Can Giardia Stunt Puppy Growth

I first heard about Giardia in dogs when I was living in the Caribbean. Giardia was very common on the island where we were staying, and as I was researching what I needed to do to protect myself against the dangerous parasite I discovered that my dogs were also at risk.

After speaking with my vet, I realized that Giardia was not limited to foreign countries. The parasite is found all over the world, including in the U.S., but my vet told me not to panic. Luckily, there are many things dog owners can do to prevent their dogs from becoming infected with this unpleasant parasite. Here are the facts about Giardia in dogs you need to know to keep your dogs safe.

Giardia is a single-celled parasite that inhabits the intestines of mammals, birds, and amphibians. There are several different “assemblages” of Giardia, which is the scientific term used to describe the many subspecies of Giardia. Each assemblage targets a specific group of animals, but all Giardia assemblages have the same life cycle and mode of transmission.

The lifecycle of Giardia is composed of two stages. The mature parasites, or trophozoites, live in the small intestine where they multiply and eventually become cysts. Cysts are the infective stage and are shed into the feces of the infected animal. They can survive for several weeks in the environment as cysts, and when they are ingested by an unsuspecting host, they turn into trophozoites and repeat the life cycle.

In children, puppies, and kittens, severe giardiasis might slow development, and cause malnutrition and stunting of growth.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

If you want to do your part taking care of a puppy with giardia at home, one thing you can do to complement the meds from the vet is to keep your dog hydrated.

Remember that they are losing a lot of fluids from vomiting and diarrhea, and will need as much help replacing that water as they can get.

We recommend that you leave a bowl of clean, cool water in an easily accessible spot for your sick puppy. You can also try to encourage them to drink more water by serving it just before or with their meals.


Dehydration is one of the most serious consequences of poorly managed giardia infections in puppies. Your little pooch will be losing water not only from diarrhea and vomiting but also from the heavy panting a lot of them do as a result of the discomfort.


Check your dogs annually for giardiaThankfully, the chances of humans being contaminated with Giardia from pets is reasonably low. There are seven different variants of this intestinal parasite, they are assigned letters A through G. Canines are most commonly affected by types C and D, felines with F, and humans mostly infected with A and B. Nevertheless, it is still possible! So to reduce the danger we advise thorough hand washing after handling your pet’s poop and also by keeping your dog’s toys, food and water bowl as clean as a whistle!


Can parasites stunt a puppy’s growth?

If a growing puppy is infected with a large number of roundworms, the worms can stunt the puppy’s growth, cause serious digestive upset, and result in excessive gas formation. These puppies often have a characteristic ‘pot-bellied’ appearance. Roundworms are free-living in the intestines.

Can Giardia cause long term problems in puppies?

What To Do if Your Pet Has Been Diagnosed With Giardia. Treatment for giardia needs to contain a multipronged approach. While medications may kill giardia, the infestation can have a long-term impact on your pet’s immune system, digestive system and bowel function (many pets may be diagnosed with IBD later in life).

Why is my puppy not growing?

Giardiasis typically affects young dogs with underdeveloped immune systems. Puppies ingest giardia parasites when drinking contaminated water such as puddles or ponds. The parasites make puppies’ bellies swell with gas and cause diarrhea that can negatively affect pups’ health via dehydration and nutrient loss.