|What is Giardiasis?
Giardiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a parasitic protozoan (single celled organism)
called Giardia Lamblia. These protozoas are found in the intestines of many animals, including
dogs and humans. Giardia is ingested. Once a person or animal has been infected with Giardia,
the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in feces. Because an outer shell protects the
parasite, it can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time and in
extreme temperatures. Veterinary research documents suggest that 5% to 10% of all dogs in
North America have Giardiasis at any given time. Surveys also show that over 30% of dogs
under one year of age were infected or 50% of puppies.
How do dogs contract Giardia?
They can contract Giardia through contaminated food, water, soil or feces.
Transmission also occurs through direct contact, especially with asymptomatic carriers. Giardia
is so prevalent throughout North America because it is highly contagious. The ingestion of just
one Giardia cysts may cause the disease, as to most bacterial illnesses that hundreds to
thousands of organisms must be consumed to cause illness.
How does this affect my dog?
The trophozoites attach to the cells of the upper small intestine where they rapidly divide in
massive numbers. They block the absorption of nutrients and vitamins and produce toxic
What are the clinical signs?
Signs range from none in asymtomatic carriers, to mild recurring diarrhea consisting of soft,
light-colored stool, to acute explosive diarrhea in severe cases. Other symptoms associated with
Giardia, but not specific to it are weight loss, listlessness, fatigue, mucus or blood in the stool.
What do I do next?
Take puppy to the Veterinarian as soon as possible because they can become dehydrated
quickly when having diarrhea or vomiting. They will take a stool sample and check it for a
number of intestinal parasites including Giardia and Coccidia. If they are found to have Giardia
they will be put on a treatment of Metronidazole or Panacur depending on your Veterinarian’s
plan of choice.
Please call me and let me know so I can monitor other puppies and contact owners of puppies
already gone to their homes.