Health | Wellness, Potty | Cleaning
You might not even realize it, but your dog could have giardia! Sorry to break it to you, but even if your dog’s poo is normal, they can still have an intestinal parasite.

What is Giardia?
Giardia is the most common intestinal parasite in dogs and is even more prevalent in puppies. It's not a worm, so it's not visible to the human eye. A recent study also found that over 70% of dog parks tested positive for giardia!

How Do Dogs Get Giardia?
Dogs can become infected by eating or sniffing the cyst stage of the parasite, which loves water sources and can survive in the environment for several months. Giardia is especially common in doggie daycares, boarding facilities, and dog parks.

Clinical Signs of Giardia in Dogs
- Many dogs may never show signs of infection!
- Diarrhea: may be intermittent, acute, or chronic
- Weight loss
- Failure to gain weight
- Vomiting
- Dehydration
- Poor coat appearance

Although giardia doesn't always cause problems, when it does, it can lead to serious illness. It affects your pet's ability to absorb nutrients, water, and electrolytes, which may lead to diarrhea.

Puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with weak immune systems are most susceptible to severe infection. In these pets, giardia can lead to severe weight loss and sometimes can be fatal in extreme cases.

Diagnosing Giardia in Dogs
Diagnosing and treating giardia is a challenging feat because cysts aren't shed in every stool. So, dogs can have giardia-free stool samples even though they are infected. This is because the trophozoites can die off after 30 minutes of defecation. Because giardia is difficult to detect, your vet may ask for fresh stool samples over 5-7 days to confirm giardia infection. The fecal sample should be fresh (not refrigerated) and recently collected to prevent death or distortion of giardia. Your vet may also recommend tests that look for giardia-specific antigens (proteins).

Treatment of Giardia
If your dog has diarrhea, it is always best to call your veterinarian. Depending on the severity of your pet's clinical signs, the veterinarian will likely perform a thorough exam, recommend fecal tests and discuss some of the available treatment options with you.

Some treatments your veterinarian may recommend include:
- Drontal Plus® for 3 days or Panacur® for 3-5 days.
- Metronidazole: Treatment with metronidazole is sometimes seen as controversial since giardia cysts in stool can be a transient finding. When Giardia cysts are found in the stool of healthy pets without signs of disease, it is often considered a transient finding. Also, more than 65% of dogs that were treated for giardia were still positive after treatment. Overall, many vets agree that dogs should not be treated with more than two courses of medication if it is unsuccessful.

- Fluid therapy if they are dehydrated or have extreme diarrhea.

There are options for a more natural approach to treatment, particularly in animals without clinical signs.
- Probiotics may help by limiting giardia's ability to attach to the intestines. They also can help stimulate the immune response.
- Lower fat and higher fiber diets can also help control clinical signs of giardia because they are easily digestible. Higher fiber has also been found to help clear giardia in lab animals so may help in our pets as well.

Prevention of Giardia
- Always have access to fresh drinking water to prevent drinking from puddles
- General hygiene is important: cleaning up your dog's poo right away.
- Limit exposure to areas where feces are left on the ground.
- Probiotics!

If your dog is on a treatment protocol for giardia, we recommend bathing your dog on the last day to reduce the risk of re-infection. Bathing will remove any cysts that remain on their fur.

Can Humans get Giardia from Dogs?
Although possible, the transfer rate from giardia in dogs to humans is rare. There is still a risk for people handling dog's stool when their dogs are affected, especially young children, the elderly, and immune-compromised individuals.

Be sure to wash your hands after picking up your dog's poop! Wearing gloves while gardening can also help prevent any chance of infection. Environmental hygiene is also important. For example, chlorine bleach and quaternary ammonium compounds can effectively kill giardia cysts in your home.

If you are worried your dog may have a parasite, check with your vet about the best next step. We also highly recommend using the DIG Labs Health Check on the purrch app to regularly monitor and track your dog’s poop!

#giardia #health #canines #dogs, #parasites #tummytroubles
DIG Labs 11-Species Probiotic + Prebiotic Dog Supplement
Purrch communities
Connect with pet parents and experts around important pet-related topics
  • Eco-Friendly Parents Community
    Eco-Friendly Parents
    Expert: Chippin

    A group of environmentally conscious pet parents committed to reducing the carbon pawprint through earth-friendly pet products.

    Passionate about this topic?

    Join Us
  • Healthy Habits Community
    Healthy Habits
    Expert: Maven

    A group of dedicated pet parents focused on assuring their pets' health and fitness through clinical knowledge and preventive care.

    Want to ensure your pet is thriving?

    Join Us