What is giardia and how do dogs get giardia?

Giardia is a type of protozoan (single cell parasite). Giardia can lead to infection (giardiasis) in both humans and dogs. Dogs pick up the cyst form of Giardia which can be found in contaminated water and or faecal deposits. 

Once ingested the parasite transforms into its feeding form (trophozoite) which attaches to the intestine wall. These trophozoites can lead to damage when in large numbers. Environments that are more likely to harbour the parasite include kennels, animal shelters and potentially pet shops.

Symptoms of giardia

Common symptoms of Giardia infection include diarrhoea, mucus in faeces and potentially weight loss. You may also notice the diarrhoea has a very pungent smell alongside fatty deposits. 

A lot of dogs will not display any symptoms of giardiasis. Giardia doesn't pose a major risk to most dogs. Symptoms are more severe in young or older dogs and those that are immunocompromised.

Treatment for giardia in dogs

Treatment would be via anti-parasitic treatments such as fenbendazole and metronidazole. Dogs should be rechecked after the treatment to ensure it has worked. 

As cysts are transmitted in your dog’s faeces, you must clear up fully after your dog. The parasite can be transmitted between dogs and humans, good hygiene is especially important if your dog is infected. 

Washing your dog well is important to remove any potential cysts from their hair. For most dogs recovery is good, the disease can be serious in immunocompromised dogs The same can be said for humans so be aware if you have anyone in your household who is immunocompromised.

You should always seek veterinary advice.

Shop now