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Giardiasis in cats – Symptoms and treatment

Parasitic diseases are very common in mammals, either in humans or animals. The mode of transmission and the degree of damage they cause in the body vary, but in all cases they are diseases that must be treated.

Cats are animals known for their careful hygiene routine, but sometimes the licks with which your cat groomes, among other reasons, could have negative consequences for your health.

On this occasion, we want to talk about the giardiasis in cats – symptoms and treatment. It is a parasitic disease that is spread by means that you could not even imagine, and that brings complications for the health of your pussycat and even for yourself.

What is giardia?

The name “giardia” is received by a protozoan type parasite capable of causing some mammals, such as cats and dogs, to develop a disease called giardiasis.

Giardia lambia o Giardia intestinalis It is the scientific name that the parasite receives. It is an organism with the shape of a flagellated protozoan impossible to appreciate without a microscope. It can present two forms: the variety of trophocyte, which is the parasite itself, which swims inside the intestine, and the giardia cyst, which is a hard form without flagellum that can live outside the cat, housed in its feces in humid environments, waiting for a new host.

Upon entering the body of the cat, the trophocyte travels to the intestine and adheres to its walls, which ends up deforming this organ. When deformed, the intestine stops performing its normal functions, so it does not absorb properly neither the fats nor the vitamins that the cat needs to be healthy.

What is giardiasis?

It is a disease caused by giardia, affects the intestine thin animal and then the thick, causing problems that affect the entire digestive system, worsening the health of the animal in general.

Infection is most common in animals with low defenses, such as those suffering from feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency syndrome, in very young or very old animals, as well as in large colonies of cats, such as shelters.

It can rarely cause death, although if the symptoms are ignored the cat could decompensate to such an extent that the infection ends his life. The parasite that produces giardiasis It is highly contagious, can even be transmitted to humans if your pet is infected.

How is contagion produced?

If your cat has access to the outside of the house or apartment, the contagion is very easy, since it can happen in several different ways. The giardia It is incubated in humid and unsanitary environments, so it is likely that your pet acquires the parasite if:

  • It approaches places where other animals defecate, because it can have contact with contaminated feces that contain giardia in the form of a cyst, where they lodge until finding another animal whose organism they can invade. The contact with these feces, which can remain attached to the legs of your cat and then be licked by it, is enough for the parasite to lodge in your body.
  • Drinking in puddles of water that cats with the parasite have contaminated, is also a means of contagion.
  • A contaminated cat can infect the giardias with their puppies.
  • In the fur of the animal, when one of the cats cleans the anal area and then licks another cat.

All these channels of contagion do not occur only when your cat goes outside. If you have a sick kitten at home and there are other pets, they can get infected in this way.

What are the symptoms?

In some cats, giardiasis it can be asymptomatic, so that the cat can live with the parasite even for years, without at any time revealing any kind of discomfort. Other cases, however, throw some signs:

  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Intestinal disorders

Diarrhea, either chronic or sporadic, is usually abundant and sudden, accompanied by bad odor, mucus and even blood. When gathering several of these symptoms, it is necessary to go to the specialist to rule out giardiasis.

How is the diagnosis made?

This part is usually complicated. Technically, the giardia should be detected floating in the stool, when it is in the form of a cyst. However, not all stools contain the parasite, so detecting its presence is difficult.

It is not enough that the veterinarian reviews the sample, it is necessary send it to a laboratory for your analysis. If giardiasis is suspected and it is not possible to appreciate the parasite in the sample, it is recommended to repeat the test several times a few days in between, until the existence of the intruder can be confirmed or completely ruled out.

Currently there is also a type of test called Elisa, capable of detecting giardia disease in only 8 minutes.

Which is the treatment?

When your cat has been diagnosed with giardiasis, it is necessary act immediately to eliminate the parasite completely and prevent it from becoming infected again. Usually metronidazole and fenbendazole are prescribed, either alone or combined. They are prescribed by 7 or 12 days, depending on the case, and it is necessary to be rigorous in the administration of the same, because a single day of forgetfulness could be enough for the giardias to be strengthened again.

You should provide your cat with enough fresh water to avoid complications with dehydration.

In the face of diarrhea, there is immediately clean the place where your cat has defecated, to keep the spaces clean. Make the toilet with gloves and then clean yourself very well, to avoid contracting the parasite.

You probably have to help your pussycat to clean your anal area, because diarrhea can be a bit disastrous. Remove any remaining feces from the cat’s fur and skin, to prevent cysts from being lodged there. If your cat has long hair, it may be advisable to remember a little the fur of the area to prevent dirt from adhering.

La cleaning of all spaces Where the cat is usually is crucial to the treatment. Wash these sites with bleach diluted in water, scrub well and then rinse. Let the space dry completely before allowing access to the pet, as the giardias proliferate in environments with humidity.

Can giardiasis be prevented?

Actually yes. A few simple measures could protect your cat from acquiring this disease:

  • There is a vacuna against giardiasis. It does not prevent its transmission to 100%, but it reduces the possibility of becoming infected. Check with your veterinarian.
  • Keep a hygiene regime of the spaces that your pet uses, be it sandpit, bed, toys, feeders, etc. In this way you will avoid the appearance of bacteria.
  • Do not let your cat get in contact with stray animals.
  • Do not let him use the bathroom of other animals or drink water where they do it.
  • In case of diarrhea, wait a few days and if it does not disappear, go to the vet.
  • Perform a regular health check of your cat.

This article is merely informative, in .com we do not have the faculty to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Giardiasis in cats – Symptoms and treatment, we recommend that you enter in our section of parasitic diseases.

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