What to do if your dog gets giardia

Giardia is very common and highly contagious. That's why it's important to know how to prevent your dog from getting it, learn about the symptoms, diagnosis and how to treat your dog who gets Giardia.

What is Giardia?

Giardia is a common and contagious endoparasite or intestinal parasite that affects the normal functioning of the intestines. They are found both in the gut but can be excreted through the stool in the form of cysts that can survive for a long time in the environment or in the fur. Your dog can become infected by ingesting the cysts through the mouth, for example by sniffing the faeces or licking the fur of an infected dog.

Individuals have different levels of resistance to Giardia and a litter of puppies may show only a few symptoms, but everyone in an infected litter is a carrier. Stress lowers the immune system and with it can trigger a Giardia infection. It can involve sudden changes in food, underlying gastrointestinal problems and moving to their new home. It is young dogs, puppies and kittens, that are particularly susceptible to giardia infection.

Symptoms of Giardia

An infected dog can be a carrier without developing any symptoms. However, the most common symptoms are diarrhoea, weight loss and sometimes vomiting and stomach pain. It is usually puppies and young dogs that show symptoms, and small puppies can suffer from dehydration and nutritional deficiencies in the worst cases.

How do I know if my dog has Giardia?

If you suspect your dog has Giardia, a stool sample is needed to confirm infection. However, it is important to remember that Giardia can flare up in the context of stress, feed changes and other intestinal upsets and in those situations Giardia is not the underlying problem. However, it can be found in a stool sample.

What should I do if my dog gets Giardia?

If you suspect that your dog has Giardia, he should be examined by a vet to get the right treatment. Unfortunately, Giardia is an intestinal parasite that can be difficult to get rid of. Therefore, in addition to treating the dog, you should also sanitize the home. It is also important to separate sick dogs from healthy ones. Giardia is treated with an antiparasitic drug that must be prescribed by a veterinarian.

This is what you should do if your dog is affected by Giardia:

  • Treat the dog as recommended and prescribed by the vet

  • Shampoo the dog

  • Separate your dog from healthy dogs

  • Clean the home, scrubbing surfaces with soap and water, for example, to ensure that all residual faeces are removed 

  • Wash textiles such as sleeping mats and blankets in the washing machine at 60°C

  • If you have textiles that can't be washed, you can also put them in a freezer at -20°C for a week

  • Wash your dog's food and water bowls in the dishwasher 

  • Provide probiotics to the dog to support the intestinal tract

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