Giardia Infection & Treatment

Giardia is an intestinal parasite found in the environment that inhibits your dog’s ability to properly absorb nutrients, water, and electrolytes; which leads to diarrhea and weight loss.

What are the symptoms of giardia?

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss/failure to gain weight
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Poor Coat Appearance

How is giardia transmitted?  Dogs contract giardia by coming in contact with feces from giardia-positive dogs.  That could be direct contact (for example stool that hasn’t been picked up at the dog park) or indirect contact (such as playing in bodies of water that have been contaminated by stool from giardia-positive dogs).

How is giardia diagnosed?  If we suspect giardia, we will test your pet’s stool sample for the giardia antigen.  If it is found, we will prescribe a course of medication for your pet.

Is giardia contagious to humans?  The odds of humans getting giardia are slim, however, it can happen.  Washing your hands immediately after handling stool will reduce the risk, as well as keeping your dog from licking your face.

What is the prognosis for giardia?  The prognosis for this condition is very good and it usually resolves after the course of medication is finished.

Managing a giardia infection:   It is essential that certain steps are taken to prevent the parasite from re-infecting your pet, and to keep other pets from becoming infected.

  • Pick up stool immediately after bowel movements and spray down the area with water
  • Wipe/wash your dog’s rear end after bowel movements to make sure no traces of feces remain
  • Change & clean water bowls often
  • Disinfect areas in the house where your dog has had a bowel movement with dilute bleach (other household cleaners are not effective at killing all life stages of giardia)