It’s a helpless feeling knowing that your dog can’t engage in conversation with you (although I swear pax understands English) especially when they are feeling under the weather! There are clear-cut signs that you can be on the lookout for if your dog has caught a bug. Dogs pick up actual bugs all the time- parasites are common in young dogs as they build their immune system. Recently, Pax was diagnosed with giardia which is a single cell parasite that lives in his intestine. It can impact older dogs, but it is more frequent in younger ones. Dogs become infected with the parasite when they drink water or ingest other substances that have poo particles in it. Or even have rolled around in the grass that is soiled with feces…such as the dog park and then cleaning themselves. For most dogs, their reaction when infected with giardiasis is diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, decreased appetite, and the symptoms can range from dog to dog, and some dogs don’t show signs at all! Luckily, Pax got a mild form, and he’s on the mend with some antibiotics and rest. Giardia is contagious and also be spread to humans so it’s important to do a deep cleaning of areas that could have contamination such as bedding, crates, toys, dog food, and water bowls.
So a couple questions I’ve been asked is 1) how did I know he was sick and 2) how can they prevent it from happening to their dog.
First off, I am very in tune with Pax’s routine and his energy levels. If he’s sleeping more than usual, not eating at his usual times, I like to check a couple things. First, I check his gums to make sure that they are pink and healthy. I also press my forefinger on his gums to make sure it bounces back quickly. I then look and smell in his ears to make sure there is no infection. Change in behavior is definitely an indicator that something could be off. But don’t worry it could just be an off day for them as well. If your dog is continually irritable, lethargic, showing signs of agitation, withdrawal, or needy behavior and it’s new that’s definitely something to check into.
Of course, there are other clear signs that something is wrong like if your dog isn’t breathing or they are wheezing and choking. A persistent cough could indicate kennel cough which is common in young puppies.
Checking your pup’s poop is essential as it will give you a lot of indication something is going on. For us, there was mucus in Pax’s stool that looked different than normal. He was also vomiting bile a few times which brought concern since he does not do that regularly. If your pup has trouble passing urine or stool that’s something to be aware of. And the opposite, if your pup is having diarrhea and is having tummy troubles that last over 24 hours take your pup in. I ALWAYS call my vet when something seems off. Pax vomited once on one day, so I figured maybe he ate something that upset his belly and he seemed fine. But he then vomited 4 additional times on different days which was very usual. We contacted our vet who advised us to come in. Be aware of your dog’s patterns of eating, going to the bathroom, and what their stool looks like.
Here are some tips that I’ve compiled from different sources:
Does your dog have a fever? you’ll need a thermometer to get an actual reading.
sudden weight gain or weight loss?
persistent shaking of head or scratching at ears
Here are 5 helpful suggestions:
1. Wash all bedding, toys that could be infected
2. Wash your floors, your bedding, and anywhere that could re-infect them
3. Go to the vet where they can determine if your pup is dehydrated and give them fluids, a diagnosis, and medication
4. Follow the medications prescribed by your vet. Your dog most likely won’t like the taste of some of them so be patient and “trick” them into it. For example, Pax has to take a liquid right now, and I pour the liquid over chicken I made him, and he eats it away.
5. Remember your energy when you are giving them medications- stay calm, patient, and kind. They are most likely scared or nervous about the new item and don’t like the taste. I sit with pax on the floor and hand feed him until he’s ready to take the medication. Come up with a creative way to have them take their medicine.
To get additional tips to check out: