Dog Diseases - Giardia

Giardia Disease in Dog
  • Giardia is a one-celled protozoan organism that produces a diarrheal disease in animals called Giardiasis. Infection occurs through drinking or eating of contaminated water or food.
  • Giardia lives in the intestine of infected dogs, cats, cows, humans and other animals.
  • Giardia can be found in two forms. The active form is motile (swims around) and is called a trophozoite. The inactive form is called a cyst. The cyst has a "shell" to protect it and can survive outside the body.

  • The most common sign is diarrhea.
  • Nausea, bloating and cramping may also be present.
  • The Giardia parasite interferes with the absorption of fats, so the stool is often greasy and with a foul odor.

  • The best way to prevent infection is to remove dogs from situations where they can come into contact with contaminated substances.
  • Areas where dogs or other domestic animals defecate should be thoroughly and routinely disinfected.
  • Giardia cysts can be inactivated by steam, boiling water and most ammonia-based disinfectant solutions.
  • Regular veterinary check-ups, including fecal examinations, can usually identify Giardia infections. These examinations are especially important at the end of summer, after the hot season.
Giardia Disease in Dog
  • Treatment is typically done on an outpatient basis unless the dog has become sick and weak.
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl) is commonly used to treat Giardiasis, but there may be side effects and efficacy is about 70%. Fenbendazole (Panacur) has been shown to have less side effects and possibly be more effective.
  • Repeat fecal exams are often required to confirm that the infection has been removed, as an ongoing (chronic) infection can be debilitating for the animal.