SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Humane Society of Utah is warning dog owners of a possible parasite outbreak called Giardiasis after reportedly receiving several dogs with confirmed cases.

According to the Humane Society, Giardiasis is a common intestinal parasitic infection. Dogs with Giardiasis could have symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, foul-smelling gas, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

The Humane Society said the infection is caused by a parasite known as Giardia that can be found in infected poop. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss, and excess foul-smelling gas.

“As the snow melts, much of the pet waste which was hidden by the snow can now expose dogs to Giardia,” said Humane Society of Utah medical director Dr. Timna Fischbein, DVM. “The cysts are trophozoites protected by an outer shell and shed in the dog’s stool. Cysts can survive in the surrounding environment for months. They are instantly infectious, and just a few ingested cysts can cause infection.”

Giardia can spread in several ways but the most common way is through contaminated water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said dogs and cats can also get infected by rolling and playing in contaminated soil, and licking and grooming parts that came in contact with a contaminated surface.

The Humane Society of Utah recommends avoiding areas of high traffic such as dog parks and foothill trails while they are muddy and wet.

The CDC said there is a low chance Giardia can pass from pets to humans as the type that infects humans is not the same that can infect dogs and cats. If your pet shows signs of Giardia, it is recommended to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and medication if needed.

Some steps can be taken to avoid contracting Giardiasis.

The CDC recommends always removing poop from your yard or a cat’s litterbox and throwing it away in a bag daily. Pet owners can also limit their pet’s access to outdoor spaces as much as possible, especially if they have diarrhea or are being treated for Giardia. The Humane Society also recommends bathing animals with pet shampoo.