Treating Giardia in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide
Giardia is a common intestinal parasite that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. It is caused by a microscopic protozoan organism called Giardia lamblia, which can live in the intestines of infected animals and be transmitted through the fecal-oral route. If left untreated, giardiasis can cause chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and other health problems in dogs. Standing water in your yard can easily infect your puppy with Giardia. Because of this it is important to remove ALL standing water immediately. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for giardia in dogs.
The first step in treating giardia in dogs is to confirm the diagnosis. A veterinarian will typically perform a fecal test to look for giardia cysts in the dog's feces. In some cases, additional tests such as blood work or imaging may be necessary to rule out other underlying conditions. A quick SNAP test can tell you if your dog has the antibodies/is positive. These SNAP tests can give a false positive sometimes. To avoid that, we recommend doing a lab test that can give you a more accurate result.
There are several medications that can be used to treat giardia in dogs. The most common is metronidazole, which is an antibiotic that works by killing the giardia organism. Other medications that may be used include fenbendazole and albendazole, which are dewormers that can also be effective against giardia.
It's important to note that medication alone may not be enough to completely eliminate giardia in dogs. In some cases, multiple rounds of medication may be necessary, or a combination of different medications may be required. Secnidazole can be given in ONE treatment and successfully eliminate Giardia.
In addition to medication, it's important to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of giardia. This includes cleaning up after your dog promptly, disinfecting any areas where your dog has had diarrhea, and washing your hands thoroughly after handling your dog or their feces.
It's also a good idea to isolate your dog from other dogs during treatment to prevent the spread of giardia. If you have other dogs in the household, they should be tested and treated for giardia as well. If your dog or puppy tests positive we recommend using disposable bedding, washing or cleaning anything in contact with your pet with an ammonia based cleaner, bathing the dog every other day in a chlorhexidine based shampoo and using chlorhexidine based wipes daily to wipe paws and butt area. Continue this for 10 days. If your pet has used the bathroom outside it is important to pick up ALL traces of feces and spray the area down with a bleach/water solution. Giardia can live in the yard for weeks or months.
Giardiasis can cause dogs to lose weight and become malnourished. To help support their recovery, it's important to provide a nutritious diet that is easily digestible. This may include cooked white rice, boiled chicken, or other bland, easy-to-digest foods.
In some cases, a prescription diet may be recommended by your veterinarian to help manage your dog's giardiasis. A strong probiotic is recommended during and after treatment to restore intestinal flora.
After treatment for giardia, it's important to follow up with your veterinarian to ensure that the infection has been fully eliminated. A repeat fecal test may be necessary to confirm that there are no remaining giardia cysts in your dog's feces.
If your dog continues to have diarrhea or other symptoms after treatment, it's important to seek veterinary care immediately, as this may indicate a more serious underlying condition.
In conclusion, giardia is a common and treatable condition in dogs. With prompt diagnosis, medication, hygiene, and nutrition, most dogs are able to fully recover from giardiasis. If you suspect that your dog may have giardia, contact your veterinarian for evaluation and treatment.