Giardiasis can be transmitted by eating or sniffing the cysts from contaminated ground, or by drinking contaminated water. When Giardia cysts are found in the stool of a healthy adult dog without diarrhea, they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding.
Giardia is a single-celled parasite that lives in your dog’s intestine. It infects older dogs but more frequently infects puppies.
If it does, it will usually appear one to three weeks after the initial infection, and usually the pet has watery diarrhea for a few days. Some dogs and cats may have subclinical infections, meaning they may be passing it in their stool but have no noticeable signs of disease themselves.
What are the symptoms of giardiasis?
For those who do get sick, signs and symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after exposure and may include: Watery, sometimes foul-smelling diarrhea that may alternate with soft, greasy stools.
When Giardia cysts are found in the stool of a healthy adult dog without diarrhea, they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding. However, in puppies and debilitated adult dogs, they may cause severe, watery diarrhea that may be fatal if left untreated.
No natural methods are proven to effectively cure Giardia. Metronidazole is a prescription medicine your vet can dispense which should work quickly and effectively. It is important to get on top of the infection as soon as we can.
Giardia is hard to eliminate from the environment, but there are things you can do to lower the chances of your pet getting sick again, and to help you and your family stay healthy: Always remove poop from your yard or other outdoor areas by using a bag and throwing it away.
Giardia organisms can sometimes be identified using fecal flotation, but some veterinarians prefer to use a different test, called a SNAP test, to screen for Giardia. The SNAP test detects Giardia antigens(proteins produced by the parasite) in the fecal material of infected pets.
In North America it has been estimated that about 7% of dogs carry Giardia, but most of them are not sick at all. It is less common in cats. Young animals (puppies and kittens) and those that live in shelters or with a lot of other animals are much more likely to have Giardia.
With proper medicine, giardia can be eliminated within two weeks. However, be aware that at the end of the treatment, you will need to give your dog a good and thorough bath to get rid of any cysts that could be on your dogs coat.
A dog who’s been diagnosed with giardia has a weakened, inflamed gastrointestinal system, so proper nutrition is an essential part of treatment. The vet will likely recommend feeding your dog a bland food that’s easy to digest and that promotes intestinal healing.
The most readily available disinfectant is bleach diluted 1:32 in water. Studies have shown this dilution to require less than one minute of contact time to effectively kill giardia cysts. As for areas with lawn or plants, decontamination may not be possible without the risk of killing the foliage.
A study at Kansas State University showed that bathing the pet at least 1-2 times per week to remove Giardia cysts clinging to the fur can help prevent reinfection.
– Quarantine a section of your yard for infected pets to urinate and defecate to prevent the spread of the parasite to healthy pets and family members. REMEMBER: Giardia can survive in 39.2ºF soil for up to 7 weeks and in 77ºF soil for a week!
In dogs, Giardia is often treated with fenbendazole (a dewormer), metronidazole (an antibiotic), or a combination of both. And sometimes, a combination of multiple medications including febantel, pyrantel pamoate, and praziquantel can also be effective in treating the parasite in dogs.