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Diarrhoea is similar to vomiting in that it is a clinical sign rather than a disease itself. Diarrhoea can be a sign of a mild digestive upset or of something more serious e.g. food poisoning or ingestion of other toxic materials. Acute and chronic diarrhoea can be life threatening, particularly in puppies or older dogs. If the diarrhoea lasts longer than a couple of hours, contains blood and the dog appears to be in pain and has a fever then veterinary attention is required immediately. Treatment in this case will include identification and appropriate treatment for the underlying condition causing the diarrhoea as well as fluid and electrolyte therapy. Mild cases can be treated at home by removing food for a period of 12 hours and then re-introducing small amounts of bland food (e.g. chicken and rice). Probiotics can also be a useful addition to improve the overall health of the affected dog’s intestines.
However, if you decide to keep your dog outdoors, it is important to consider how you'll ensure it receives the appropriate amount of human contact (particularly during those cold winter months in which we'd all much rather stay snuggled inside rather than playing fetch with our pals in the cold!). An option could be to enlist the service of a dog walker. Also, if you work long hours or are sometimes forced to take overnight trips, it may be useful to consider "doggy day care" facilities to ensure that your dog receives the TLC and companionship it will need in your absence.
If you are not home during the day, your dog should be kept secure in a dog-proof fenced yard and should never be left unsupervised when tethered. In the case of larger properties where this is not possible, then an appropriately fenced dog-run should be constructed, and the dog kennel, along with a plentiful supply of fresh water, should be placed within the run.
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.