Gastrointestinal (GI) parasites

“Gastro” refers to the stomach, “intestinal” refers to the small intestines (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum), and a “parasite” is any organism that lives on or within another living animal and uses it to survive. The most common GI parasites in dogs and cats are hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia, and Giardia (though there are others).

Gastrointestinal blockage

“Gastro” refers to the stomach, “intestinal” refers to the small intestines (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum), and “blockage” refers to anything that obstructs the normal flow through these organs. This could be a foreign body, such as a toy, rock, rawhide or other type of bone, socks, rubber bands/ strings, or any other strange object a pet may ingest. It could also be the result of a mass or inflammation inside the stomach or intestines.

Giardia

This is a flagellate protozoa capable of parasitizing most animals, including humans (it is known as “traveler’s diarrhea” in humans). In most cases, the infection does not cause symptoms such as diarrhea and weight loss unless the animal has a weakened immune system. However, since it is possible to be spread to humans through the pets feces, it is a public health concern and the veterinarians at our clinics strongly recommend testing for and treating this infection. The test is routinely performed on feces sent to a reference lab, since it is difficult to detect this parasite using on-site techniques. The reference lab runs a sensitive and specific test for this parasite, looking for antigen to Giardia. There is a low incidence of false negatives and false positives using this test.