How contagious is Giardia in dogs? A Step-by-Step Guide

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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.

How Is Giardia in Dogs Spread?

Giardia has to be ingested by your dog in order for him to get the parasite. Your dog can get Giardia by drinking water that has been contaminated by feces or by eating something that has been contaminated by feces, like grass. Since dogs love to put things in their mouths, this means that there are plenty of ways your dog can pick up the parasite in his environment, whether it is by chewing on a stick, eating poop, or drinking from a puddle.

Once the parasite is in your dog’s intestines, your dog can spread the parasite, even if he doesn’t show any signs of infection. This is worrisome, especially if you have more than one pet in your household. While transmission from dogs to cats and cats to dogs is unlikely, the transmission from dog to dog is certainly a cause for concern. If one of your pets is diagnosed with Giardia, talk to your vet about the precautions you need to take to protect your other pets.

What is the Prognosis for Dogs with Giardia?

Giardia is easily treatable, and infection is rarely life-threatening. However, for elderly dogs, puppies, or dogs with immunodeficiencies, the risk of complications and even death is possible. After your dog’s treatment is completed, they should be retested within two to four weeks to ensure the infection is completely gone.

Giardia in the dog and cat. Dr. Dan- what giardia is, giardia symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Giardia, or Giardiasis, is an infection in the intestines caused by a microscopic parasite. The single-celled parasite, also referred to as Giardia duodenalis or Giardia lamblia or Giardian intestinalis, travels through the intestines, latches itself to an intestinal wall, and feeds from its host. There are various types of Giardia, two of which are most prevalent in dogs.

Giardia infection has two life cycle stages: trophozoite and cyst. Trophozoites are the mobile form of Giardia that pass through and stick to the dog’s small intestine, feeding there. Giardia reproduce by dividing, and some trophozoites transform into cysts. When the dog excretes its feces, the cysts then pass on and can survive in most environments for an extended period of time. If another animal comes into contact with the contaminated surface, they can become infected – and the cycle repeats.