Skip to content
What is Giardia in Dogs and Cats

What is Giardia in Dogs and Cats

This article will discuss Giardia in cats and dogs - including the signs, treatments and other things that paw-rents need to look out for.

What is Giardia?

Giardia is a parasite that affects many types of animals (including cats and dogs).
Giardia can also infect humans. Giardia parasites live in the intestines of affected animals, and the parasites are passed out in the stool.

How does Giardia infect animals and humans?

Giardia infection occurs when contaminated poop gets into a human or animal’s mouth. This can happen in many ways, such as:

-Drinking contaminated water
-Touching a contaminated surface (e.g. tabletop, leash) and then touching your mouth
-Close contact with an infected person or animal

Children are generally at greater risk than adults, as children are more likely to touch their mouths right after playing with pets without washing their hands.

Signs of Giardia in Cats and Dogs

Signs of Giardia in Cats and Dogs include (but are not limited to):

-Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
-Smelly farts (flatulence)

In severe cases, pets may vomit, eat less and/or lose weight.

However, some pets will have a Giardia infection and be completely healthy. Animals with weaker immune systems (e.g. puppies and kittens) are more likely to show signs of disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Giardia

If you suspect Giardia in your dog, do not try to diagnose and treat it by yourself! There are many other potential causes of diarrhea/vomiting/decreased appetite and weight loss. Some of these causes are potentially severe. Therefore, you should

Giardia should only be diagnosed with diagnostic tests by a veterinarian.

The Giardia parasites can be treated with the antibiotic metronidazole, the antiparasitic drug fenbendazole, or a combination of both. These two medications are prescription-only. This means that only a licensed veterinarian can prescribe them.

Other medications or supplements may be prescribed to help treat the clinical signs. For instance, your vet may give probiotics or postbiotics to help with the pet’s gut bacteria. The gut normally has bacteria and diarrhea occurs when the population of beneficial bacteria is disrupted. Potential probiotics include:

Vetra Synbiotix Prebiotic / Probiotic
Jean-Paul Nutraceuticals Natural Gut Probiotics Paste (Immuno XT)
GoodGut Probiotic Treats for Dogs and Cats
Rocks Nutraceuticals Digestive + Probiotic Supplement
PURINA® PRO PLAN VETERINARY SUPPLEMENTS® FortiFlora™ (for Canine and Feline)
Protexin Synbiotic D - C Daily Capsule for Dogs and Cats
MaxxiPaws MaxxiDigest + Digestive and Immune Support Supplement for Dogs (200g)

Potential postbiotics include Furment Corvet Postbiotics Healthy Digestive Supplement Gel and Furment MegaCor Postbiotics Healthy Digestive Recovery Supplement.

If you’re wondering what how prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics differ from one another, long story short: The good gut bacteria (‘probiotics’) make use of ‘prebiotics’ (gut bacteria food) to produce postbiotics (the end-product that boosts gut health).

The vet may also prescribe stool firmers to firm up the stool. Some probiotics come with stool firmers. Examples of stool firmer/probiotics include:

Protexin Pro-Kolin Advanced for Cats and Dogs
LactoGold K Gel Firm Up Stools
VetPlus PROMAX® Gastrointestinal Health Supplement for Dogs and Cats

If the pet is vomiting, the vet may prescribe anti-vomiting medication such as Cerenia (prescription-only). If the pet is not eating, your vet may prescribe appetite-stimulating medication such as Mirtazapine.

How can I protect my loved ones (humans and pets) against Giardia?

Remember that plenty of healthy cats and dogs have Giardia without showing any signs, and these pets live long and happy lives with their families. You don’t have to go around testing for Giardia in a healthy pet, as there is no point in doing so! However, if your cat/dog displays signs of tummy upset (mentioned above), it’s always good to visit the vet and rule out a bad Giardia infection.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, simply practice good hygiene. Wash your hands after playing with your pet and handling their feces/litter tray, and clean their environments regularly. Pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should avoid clearing a pet’s poop.

Consult your vet if you need more detailed advice on Giardia!
Previous article Understanding Senior Eyes in Pets
Next article 2024- Beyond Our Shores

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields

Liquid error (layout/theme line 287): Could not find asset snippets/expo.liquid