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Giardia intestinalis and Giardia duodenalis are single celled protozoan parasites, which inhabit the affected dog’s small intestine, causing clinical signs of Gardiasis. The protozoa attach themselves to the intestines and multiply. They may be directly swept through the intestines and appear in the infected dog’s faeces or they may develop into a tougher more durable ‘cyst’ form, which is again passed in the dogs faeces but is able to survive for long periods in the external environment. Dogs are infected by ingesting the cysts from contaminated water and the environment. Infected dogs may not show any clinical signs of Gardiasis, but they can still shed the protozoa from their systems, spreading the infection to other healthy animals. Infection and subsequent illness is more commonly seen in younger animals. Signs of infection include: chronic or intermittent diarrhoea that may appear ‘fatty’ and slimy, accompanied by a very foul smell. Weight loss is also possible if left untreated.
As a dog owner you are fully and legally responsible for any harm or damages caused by your dog. If your dog bites a human, kills wildlife, damages property, causes a traffic accident, creates noise or other pollution, or is the direct cause of any other damage to the community, you may have to shoulder a substantial financial (if not legal) penalty. It is in your best interest then to always keep a vigilant eye on your dog in public and provide him with the obedience training and socialisation skills necessary to become a well-mannered and socially well-adjusted dog.
It is important to note however that dogs who are never, or seldom allowed indoors, are more likely to become bored - and as a result become disruptive (e.g. bark for attention) and/or destructive (e.g. dig up your newly- planted rose bush). This is because dogs associate their human family as their pack and can develop behavioural issues if they feel neglected as a consequence of being excluded from interacting with their pack.
It is also important that dogs are socialised with people and other dogs from an early age. There are a range of activities dog owners and their four-legged friends can get involved in such as fly ball, agility and lure coursing. Consult your local council about activities available in your area. RSPCA training and information sessions on pet behaviour are also regularly staged at Burwood East.
Keep your dog busy by prolonging his mealtime with a number of interactive toys such as Kongs, treatballs, or Bustercubes (treats can be easily pushed in but will engage your dog for hours trying to get them out). Also try hiding part of his meal around the yard to stimulate his natural foraging instincts. Treats and toys are available at the RSPCA online shop.
It is important to buy your dog from a reputable source. Purchase your dog from a reputable dog breeder, visit an RSPCA Adoption Centre or a local animal welfare shelter such as the RSPCA where lots of happy and healthy dogs are looking for loving new homes. If you are looking to adopt a dog from a breeder, make sure you read our Smart Puppy Buyers Guide.