Dog Parasite Giardia Advice & Care
Giardia are a type of protozoa – a microscopic, single-celled parasite – which lives in the small intestines.
Affected dogs can get nasty diarrhoea, as well as spreading the parasite to others – including us!
Giardia parasite in dogs
Giardia is a tiny organism, called a protozoa, made of only one cell! For such a tiny creature, giardia can cause nasty disease in dogs, as it lives inside the small intestine. Although any dog can be affected with giardia, it is more likely in young dogs, as their immune systems are not as strong and less likely to be able to fight off a giardia infection.
Giardia reproduce in the intestines by producing special infectious cysts which are released into the environment in faeces. Dogs who ingest these cysts are then infected themselves. Giardia can infect many animals as well as dogs, including cats, ferrets and humans.
Giardia can be difficult to diagnose, as dogs which are affected often only have giardia in their faeces intermittently. This means that a test can be negative, even if giardia are actually present – repeated tests may be needed to track this little parasite down!
As the infective cyst stage of giardia is found anywhere there have been contaminated faces, giardia can easily be picked up from the environment. Giardia likes water, and muddy puddles or other contaminated water sources are a common source of infection. As giardia can be found almost anywhere, it is impossible to stop your dog from being exposed to giardia completely.
Signs of giardia can be short or long-term, and sometimes intermittent, with dogs experiencing flare-ups of signs.
Signs of a giardia infection include:
- Diarrhoea may be strong smelling, and can contain blood and mucus
- Bloated tummy from gas
- Poor weight gain in young puppies
You can’t stop your dog being exposed to giardia, but there are some top tips to reduce the risk of infection:
- Don't allow your dog to drink from muddy puddles.
- Always pick up your dog's faeces quickly although this will not stop your own dog becoming infected, if everyone followed this simple advice, contamination in the environment in general would be greatly reduced.
- Use boarding kennels that you trust and are cleaned regularly; densely populated areas are much more likely to harbour giardia.
Health Plans to keep your dog healthy
At Vets4Pets we offer a range of Health Plans that make essential routine treatments more affordable. You'll save money on things like annual vaccinations, flea and worm treatment and routine health check-ups.
Read more of our expert dog advice to keep your dog happy and healthy.