Understanding Giardia in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

Understanding Giardia in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

Posted by volhard dog nutrition on Jul 11th 2024

Giardia is a common but often misunderstood parasite that can affect our furry friends.

If your dog is experiencing persistent diarrhea or tummy troubles, Giardia might be the culprit. Understanding this pesky parasite is crucial for every dog parent.

Let's discuss the symptoms, treatments, and prevention strategies for Giardia in dogs, helping you keep your canine companion healthy and happy.

What Is Giardia?

Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can infect the intestines, causing gastrointestinal issues.

This member of the genus Giardia thrives in the digestive system. When ingested, the parasite attaches to the lining of the intestines, leading to symptoms such as watery diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.

Giardia is difficult to detect because its presence can fluctuate in stool samples, making accurate diagnosis challenging without medical assistance.

Do Only Humans Get Giardia?

No, Giardia does not only affect humans; it can also infect various animals, including dogs, cats, and livestock.

Humans contract Giardia from contaminated water or food. Dogs get infected through similar means, particularly when they come into contact with contaminated water sources.

Giardia is a zoonotic parasite, meaning it can potentially spread between animals and humans. Proper hygiene and preventive measures are essential to minimize the risk of transmission.

How Do Dogs Get Exposed to Giardia?

Dogs typically get exposed to Giardia by ingesting the parasite from contaminated water, food, or surfaces.

Common sources include puddles, streams, and other bodies of water where the parasite thrives. Dogs can also contract Giardia from feces or soil contaminated by infected animals.

This highly resilient parasite can survive in various environments, making it easy for dogs to encounter it during their daily activities.

Recognizing Giardia Symptoms in Dogs

Recognizing giardia symptoms in dogs

The most common symptom of Giardia infection is very watery diarrhea, often accompanied by a foul odor.

Dogs may also experience vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and further health complications if not addressed promptly.

Weight loss is another significant sign, as Giardia interferes with nutrient absorption in the intestines.

Infected dogs may also show signs of lethargy and abdominal discomfort.

Because these symptoms resemble other gastrointestinal issues, you must consult a veterinarian if you notice any of these signs in your dog.

3 Long-Term Effects of Untreated Giardia

Long-term effects of untreated giardia

  • Chronic Digestive Issues: Untreated Giardia can lead to persistent gastrointestinal problems. Chronic diarrhea and vomiting can cause ongoing discomfort and disrupt your dog's digestive system, potentially leading to malabsorption of nutrients.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Long-term Giardia infection can result in significant weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. As the parasite interferes with the absorption of essential nutrients, your dog may become malnourished, affecting overall health and vitality.
  • Weakened Immune System: Continuous stress on the digestive system and poor nutritional intake can weaken your dog's immune system. This can make them more susceptible to other infections and health issues, compounding the problems caused by the Giardia infection.

How to Diagnose Giardia in Dogs

Diagnosing Giardia in dogs requires veterinary assistance, as the parasite is difficult to detect through routine observation.

The most reliable method is a stool sample analysis. Multiple samples over a few days are needed for accurate detection. Your veterinarian may use a combination of direct smear, flotation, and ELISA tests to identify the presence of Giardia.

In some cases, additional diagnostic tests may be required to rule out other potential causes of gastrointestinal symptoms.

4 Natural Remedies for Giardia in Dogs

Natural remedies for giardia in dogs

When it comes to treating Giardia in dogs, natural remedies can be an effective complement to veterinary assistance.

Oregon Grape

Oregon grape is a powerful herb known for its antibiotic and anti-parasitic properties. It contains berberine, a compound that helps fight off infections, including those caused by Giardia.

Oregon grape can reduce inflammation and support the immune system, making it a beneficial natural remedy for dogs with Giardia. Due to its potency, do not use Oregon grape in pregnant dogs or those with liver disease. Always consult with a holistic vet before starting this treatment.


Clove contains eugenol, a compound that helps to eliminate parasites and prevent their replication. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which support overall gut health.

Clove must be used in controlled doses to avoid toxicity, so working with a holistic vet will help determine the appropriate dosage for your dog. Proper administration can help clear the parasite while minimizing potential side effects.


Garlic is a well-known natural remedy that is effective against Giardia when prepared correctly. It contains allicin, a compound with strong anti-parasitic and antibacterial properties.

To prepare garlic for treating Giardia, crush a fresh garlic clove and let it sit for 10 minutes to activate the allicin. Mix a small, controlled amount into your dog's food, as excessive amounts can be toxic to dogs.

Golden Seal

Golden seal is another potent herb that can effectively combat Giardia. It contains berberine, which has strong anti-parasitic properties.

When combined with garlic, the two herbs work synergistically to enhance each other's effects. Golden seal, in tincture form, soothes the digestive tract and reduces inflammation, while garlic works to kill the parasites.

Preventing Giardia in Dogs

Dog at vet

Preventing Giardia in dogs involves a combination of good hygiene practices, vigilant monitoring, and creating a clean living environment.

How to Maintain a Clean Environment for Your Dog

Start by regularly cleaning and disinfecting your dog's living areas, food and water bowls, beds, and toys.

Use pet-safe, non-toxic disinfectants to kill any potential parasites. Promptly remove and dispose of your dog's feces from the yard and public spaces, as Giardia can be transmitted through contaminated feces.

If your dog spends time in areas other animals frequent, such as parks or dog daycare, be extra vigilant about cleanliness. Bathing your dog regularly, especially after being in potentially contaminated areas, can also help remove parasites from their fur before they are ingested.

Clean Drinking Water Is Crucial for Giardia Prevention

Ensuring your dog has access to clean drinking water is one of the most essential steps in preventing Giardia.

Always provide fresh, clean water for your dog, and change it regularly to avoid contamination. Bring bottled water or a portable water purifier when traveling or hiking to ensure your dog's water is parasite-free.

Avoid allowing your dog to drink from puddles, streams, or other bodies of water, as they may be contaminated with Giardia.

If you have multiple dogs, provide separate water bowls to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Protect Your Pup from Giardia with Volhard!

For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert canine nutrition coaches are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why and how to feed their dogs the healthiest foods!

Speaking to a Volhard canine nutrition coach will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind.

If you want to contact one of our Volhard canine nutrition coaches, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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