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Giardia In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Giardia In Dogs

What Is Giardia In Dogs?

Giardia is a protozoan parasite that affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal problems.

It is a common problem among dogs and can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Giardia in dogs is caused by a single-celled organism called Giardia lamblia, which is found in contaminated water, food, and soil.

The parasite attaches itself to the lining of the small intestine, causing inflammation, and disrupting the dog's ability to absorb nutrients from food.

Symptoms Of Giardia In Dogs

The most common symptoms of giardia in dogs include diarrhea, vomiting, Dehydration, weight loss, and poor fur condition or coat appearance.

Diarrhea may be watery or mucousy, and it may have a foul odor. The dog may also have abdominal pain, gas, and bloating, and it may be reluctant to eat.

In some cases, the dog may also develop a fever, and it may become dehydrated if it is unable to keep fluids down.

Treatment Options For Giardia In Dogs

The treatment of giardia in dogs usually involves a combination of medication and supportive care. Your vet will carry out several tests and then discuss an individual treatment plan for your dog if he has Giardia.

He may prescribe traditional pharmaceutical drugs such as metronidazole and fenbendazole for 3 to 10 days to kill the gut’s parasite.

Metronidazole is the most commonly used drug to treat giardia, and it works by killing the parasite in the dog's intestinal tract. But, it may cause more side effects such as lethargy, blood in urine, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness in your dog. It’s also not safe for pregnant canines.

Fenbendazole is also effective in treating giardia, and it is often used in conjunction with metronidazole to increase its effectiveness. It is one of the safest drugs.

It is more effective than metronidazole. It can also cause vomiting as a side effect in your dog, and some canines are allergic to it.

Other drugs that may be used to treat giardia include albendazole and tinidazole. Your dog may also need follow-up tests and treatments based on the severity of the infection. Retesting is usually done 2 to 4 weeks after the completion of treatment.

The vet will also suggest the repetition of fecal exams to confirm the removal of the infection.

You can follow a few tips while your puppy is getting treatment. This will help it to avoid getting the risk of infection again.

  • Bathing will reduce the repetition of infection and help remove the parasite from the dog’s body. So, bath your pup’s rear end with high-quality dog shampoo to remove any cysts.
  • The easily digestible diet will help your pup have diarrhea during treatment.
  • You can add nutritional supplements to your dog to regain the weight it lost.

Home Remedies For Giardia In Dogs

While prompt veterinary care is necessary for the treatment of giardia in dogs, there are some home treatments that can be used in conjunction with medication and supportive care to help manage the symptoms and support the dog's recovery.

Here are some home treatments for giardia in dogs:

  • Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes: Giardia can disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the dog's gut, so it is important to support the digestive system by giving probiotics and digestive enzymes. These supplements can help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria and enzymes in the gut, which can improve digestion and absorption of nutrients from food.
  • Easy-to-Digest Food: Offer the dog easy-to-digest food such as boiled chicken and rice, which can help soothe the stomach and provide nutrients that are easy to absorb. Avoid feeding the dog fatty or high-fiber foods that can further irritate the gut.
  • Hydration: Giardia can cause severe dehydration, so it is important to encourage the dog to drink plenty of water. Offer the dog fresh water regularly and consider adding some low-sodium chicken broth to the water to make it more appealing.
  • Herbal Remedies:
    • Some natural remedies that may be effective in treating giardia include:
    • Coconut oil (1 tsp per 10 pounds of dog weight)
    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Turmeric (Very small dose)
    • Garlic (Too much garlic is dangerous for your dog. Small puppy ¼ clove, medium 1/2 clove, large ¾ clove, giant 1 clove)
  • Cleanliness: Keep the dog's living environment clean and free from feces to prevent the spread of giardia. Wash the dog's bedding and toys regularly and disinfect any surfaces that may be contaminated with feces.

In summary, while home treatments can help manage the symptoms of giardia in dogs, it is important to seek veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Home treatments should always be used in conjunction with medication and supportive care prescribed by a veterinarian.

How To Prevent Giardia In Dogs?

Preventing giardia in dogs requires taking several precautions, including avoiding contaminated water sources and keeping the dog's living environment clean and free from feces.

It is also important to practice good hygiene when handling the dog, including washing hands thoroughly after handling it or cleaning up its feces.

Regular deworming is also important in preventing giardia, as well as other intestinal parasites that can be transmitted through contaminated soil or water.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Giardia

Giardia can affect dogs of all breeds, but some breeds may be more susceptible to the infection than others.

Breeds that are known to be at increased risk of giardia include Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, and German Shepherds.

Dogs that live in areas with a high prevalence of giardia, such as kennels or animal shelters, are also at increased risk of infection.

Causes And Diagnosis For Giardia In Dogs


Giardia is usually contracted when dogs drink from contaminated water sources, including streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes.

It can also be spread through contact with infected feces, either through direct contact with an infected dog or by ingesting contaminated soil or water. The parasite can survive for several months in moist environments, making it a persistent problem in some areas.


The diagnosis of giardia in dogs involves a combination of clinical signs, fecal examination, and sometimes additional testing.

  • Clinical Signs: Your veterinarian will first perform a physical examination of your dog, checking for any signs of dehydration, abdominal pain, or discomfort. They will also ask you questions about your dog's recent medical history, including any changes in appetite, behavior, or bowel movements.
  • Fecal Examination: Your veterinarian will collect a fecal sample from your dog and examine it for the presence of giardia cysts or eggs using a microscope. However, it is important to note that giardia cysts can be difficult to detect, and multiple fecal samples may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
  • Additional Testing: In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic testing, such as blood tests or imaging studies, to rule out other conditions or complications associated with giardia infection. For example, if your dog has persistent diarrhea or vomiting, your veterinarian may recommend blood tests to check for dehydration or electrolyte imbalances.

It is important to note that the diagnosis of giardia in dogs can be challenging, and false negatives can occur.

If your dog has persistent gastrointestinal symptoms despite negative test results, your veterinarian may recommend retesting or additional diagnostic testing to identify the underlying cause of the symptoms.

Additionally, proper hygiene and sanitation practices are essential to prevent the spread of giardia and other infectious diseases among dogs and other animals.

When To See A Vet For Giardia In Dogs?

If your dog is showing symptoms of giardia, it is essential to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

The veterinarian will perform a physical examination and may recommend blood tests, fecal analysis, or other diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of giardia.

Depending on the severity of the infection, the dog may need to be hospitalized for treatment or may be treated on an outpatient basis.

Food Suggestions For Giardia In Dogs

When a dog is suffering from giardia, their gastrointestinal system can be inflamed, and it may be experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or lack of appetite. Providing the right food can help soothe the stomach and provide the necessary nutrients to support the dog's recovery.

Here are some food suggestions for dogs with giardia:

  • Boiled Chicken and Rice: This is a classic bland diet that is easy to digest and provides the necessary nutrients that the dog needs while they recover from giardia. Boiled chicken and rice are low in fat and fiber, making it easier for the gut to process.
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and is easy to digest. Choose a low-fat option, as too much fat, can cause further irritation to the gut.
  • Cooked Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, which can help regulate bowel movements and soothe the digestive system. Make sure to cook them thoroughly before serving them to the dog.
  • Canned Pumpkin: Canned pumpkin is another high-fiber food that can help regulate bowel movements and soothe the digestive system. Make sure to choose 100% pure pumpkins without any added sugars or spices.
  • Bone Broth: Bone broth is rich in nutrients and is easy to digest. It is also a great way to encourage the dog to drink more fluids, which is important for preventing dehydration.
    When introducing new foods to a dog's diet, it is important to do so gradually to avoid further upsetting their digestive system. Start with small portions and gradually increase the amount over time. Always consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to a dog's diet, especially when they are suffering from a medical condition like giardia.


Giardia is a protozoan parasite that affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and other gastrointestinal problems.

The parasite is contracted by drinking from contaminated water sources or contact with infected feces. Treatment involves medication and supportive care, and prevention includes avoiding contaminated water sources and practicing good hygiene.

Prompt veterinary care and preventive measures are necessary to manage giardia in dogs effectively.

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