Giardia in Dogs: Here’s What Pet Parents Need to Know

Giardia in Dogs: Here’s What Pet Parents Need to Know

Alpha Paw Sale

Jan 02, 2024

What is Giardia in dogs?

Giardia is a microscopic protozoan intestinal parasite that can infect dogs. The scientific name of giardia in dogs is Giardia intestinalis. This single-celled parasite can wreak havoc on your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and can cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. There are many different species of giardia that can infect dogs, wildlife, cats, and people.

How do dogs get giardia?

Dogs most commonly get giardia from other dogs. Giardia is spread to your dog when they get fecal material with giardia organisms into their mouth. This can happen if they play with a dog with giardia or they walk in an area where a dog with giardia has defecated. Your dog might lick their paws later and become infected. Your dog can also become infected if they drink water from a contaminated water source, including creeks, lakes, ponds, or puddles.

Can giardia be passed from dog to human?

The transmission of giardia from a dog to a human does not occur commonly. Most humans are infected by other humans or contaminated water sources. There is a small risk that giardia could be passed from pets to people, especially in individuals who are immunocompromised. If your dog has been diagnosed with giardia, it is important to practice good hygiene, like frequent hand washing and disinfecting. If you are concerned you may have gotten giardia from your dog, I recommend speaking with your doctor.

Giardia in dogs: here's what pet parents need to know

Symptoms of Giardia in Dogs

The most common giardia symptoms in dogs include vomiting and diarrhea. Because Giardia is an intestinal parasite, it mainly causes intestinal symptoms. Unfortunately, vomiting and diarrhea are both nonspecific symptoms that can be associated with many different illnesses or the ingestion of toxic substances. Your veterinarian will be able to determine if your pet’s symptoms are caused by giardia.

According to the AKC, the most common giardia symptoms in dogs include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Poor quality of the coat
  • Decreased appetite

Diagnosing Giardia in Dogs

If you suspect your pet has giardia, I recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. For your appointment, I recommend bringing your pet’s stool sample in a ziplock bag so your veterinarian can examine and test it. Sometimes, your veterinarian may diagnose giardia based on history and physical exam. Giardiasis can usually be diagnosed by running a fecal examination on your pet’s stool sample to get a definitive diagnosis. Giardia organisms can sometimes be seen on microscopic evaluation of your dog’s stool sample. Also, there are special laboratory tests that your veterinarian may wish to perform to check for giardia. If your dog has been vomiting, your veterinarian may wish to perform x-rays of your dog to rule out other common medical conditions.

How To Treat Giardia in Dogs

Once your veterinarian diagnoses giardia in your dog, they will recommend treatment with an oral medication. The most common oral medication to treat giardia is called Panacur (fenbendazole). This medication is used once daily for five days. Your veterinarian may also prescribe metronidazole. This medication also treats giardia and may be effective at decreasing diarrhea symptoms. Your veterinarian may recommend bathing your dog to clean off any giardia organisms. The bedding should be washed in hot water and dried on high heat. For easy-to-wash pet bedding, check out this cozy calming pet bed.

Top Picks for Maintaining Your Dog’s Digestive Wellness

Ensuring your dog has a healthy tummy is crucial for their overall well-being. Consider incorporating top-rated products that promote digestive wellness into your routine. High-quality, easily digestible dog food with probiotics can foster a balanced gut microbiome. Treats fortified with natural fibers or digestive enzymes can further aid in digestion.

Additionally, adding a probiotic supplement to their diet may support a healthy digestive system. Regular veterinary check-ups can guide you in choosing the most suitable products for your dog’s specific needs, contributing to their happiness and vitality. Prioritizing digestive health ensures your furry friend enjoys a comfortable and thriving life.

Zesty paws probiotic for dogs - probiotics for gut flora, digestive health, occasional diarrhea & bo
Zesty paws probiotic for dogs - probiotics for gut flora, digestive health, occasional diarrhea & bo
Zesty paws probiotic for dogs - probiotics for gut flora, digestive health, occasional diarrhea & bo
Our Score
  • These functional soft chew supplements feature a base of pumpkin and papaya—two sources of enzymes—plus probiotics for digestion, bowel and immune support.
  • Contains DE111, a bacillus subtilis that supports digestive function and a strong immune system.
  • These chewables contain six probiotics—DE111, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. brevis, L. fermentum and L. lactis—to promote proper gut flora and function.
  • May provide relief from occasional gastric distress, including constipation, indigestion, gas and bloating.
  • Paw-fect for small, medium and large breed dogs.
Royal canin small digestive care dry dog food, 3. 5 lb bag
  • Dry dog food specially formulated for small dogs 10 months and older weighing up to 22 lb with a sensitive stomach.
  • Promotes healthy digestion with optimal blend of highly digestible proteins, prebiotics, and dietary fibers.
  • Aids digestion and supports a balanced intestinal flora that also promotes optimal stool quality.
  • Supports digestive health with highly digestible proteins.
  • Perfect complement to Royal Canin Wet Dog Food formulas.
Purina pro plan veterinary supplements fortiflora dog probiotic supplement, canine nutritional suppl
  • This veterinarian-recommended dog probiotic helps support digestive health and manage the symptoms of diarrhea.
  • Recommended for the dietary management of puppies and adult dogs with diarrhea.


Be prepared the next time your dog has an upset stomach by keeping Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements FortiFlora Dog Probiotic Supplement close at hand. Designed to manage the symptoms of dog diarrhea, this digestive care dog food powder supplement contains special probiotics for dogs, plus healthy antioxidants for added immune support. FortiFlora dog digestive health supplements supply dogs with a guaranteed level of live microorganisms to benefit beneficial intestinal microflora and help quell a variety of digestive issues. A proprietary microencapsulation process helps enhance the stability of the probiotics in each sachet, aiding their survival until they can reach your dog’s intestinal tract. This formula is appropriate for use in both puppies and adult dogs, and it can also be helpful for treating excessive gas. Don’t let your best friend suffer tummy upsets any longer than he has to—let this vet-recommended supplement swoop in and save the day!

Native pet vet created probiotic powder for dogs digestive issues - dog probiotic powder + prebiotic
  • Sprinkle on dry kibble as a food topper mix with water for a broth, paw-feet alternative to probiotic chews.
  • Created by vet nutritionists to provide maximum digestive health.
  • Promotes skin health, and effectively controls yeast overgrowth, so your best pal stays comfortable and itch-free.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients for a powerful probiotic and prebiotic digestive supplement.
  • Supports overall gut health, is used as a preventive probiotic for diarrhea, serves every day.
Naturvet – digestive enzymes - plus probiotics & prebiotics – helps support diet change & a heal
  • Formulated to support and balance the digestive tract.
  • Great for dogs with sensitive stomachs and digestive issues caused by stress, antibiotics, a weakened immune system or dietary issues.
  • Features a special blend of probiotics, including veterinary-strength PB6, which helps support good bacteria in the gut and promotes a balanced and healthy GI tract and normal stool quality.
  • PB6 technology enables beneficial bacteria to travel through the complete GI tract for optimal stomach and intestinal balance.
  • Bite-size chew that you can feed like a treat.

What happens if Giardia is left untreated in dogs?

If giardia is left untreated, your dog may lose weight and continue to have intestinal symptoms. Your dog is at risk for developing dehydration if the vomiting and diarrhea continue. Very young and very old animals are at high risk for developing complications secondary to giardia.

How long does it take to clear up Giardia in dogs?

Once treatment is initiated, your pet should see some relief of their symptoms within 24 to 48 hours. If their symptoms are not improving, you should let your veterinarian know. Within 1 to 2 weeks, your dog will likely be fully recovered from their giardia infection as long as they don’t become reinfected.

Giardia in dogs: here's what pet parents need to know

How do you get rid of Giardia in your yard?

The CDC states that giardia can live for about a week at 70 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures and up to 7 weeks in 30 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. They suggest that it is important to pick up any stool in the yard so your dog does not get reinfected with the organism. Always wear gloves when picking up stool in the yard and wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up the yard. As soon as your dog has a bowel movement, it is a good idea to go ahead and pick up the stool (wearing gloves) and dispose of it promptly.

Giardia organisms are immediately infective meaning that as soon as your dog has a bowel movement, there are giardia organisms in the stool that can infect other animals. This means if your dog eats their own stool or licks stool off of their paws, they could become reinfected. It may be a good idea to keep your dog away from the infected area of your yard for about a month after your dog has been diagnosed and treated with giardia to prevent reinfection.

Preventing Giardia in Dogs

There are a few things that you can do to reduce your dog’s risk of developing giardia. Dr. Brett Wasik, a veterinary internal medicine specialist, states that you should not allow your dog to drink water from ponds, puddles, rivers, or lakes. These water sources could contain giardia organisms that may infect your dog. In areas where there is high dog traffic, like dog parks, there may be a higher risk that your dog might develop giardia. If you avoid these places, this could help reduce your dog’s risk of giardia. Last, it is important to promptly pick up any of your dog’s stool. This will help keep your yard clean and reduce the risk of reinfection with giardia!

Alpha Paw Sale
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Dr. Addie Reinhard, DVM

Member of Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts

Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced companion animal veterinarian who lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and currently practices in the central Kentucky region. Dr. Addie has special interests in preventative care, dermatology, and diseases, and she enjoys creating helpful educational resources related to these topics to help pet parents keep their four-legged family members happy and healthy. We love Dr. Addie’s passion for providing reliable veterinary insight and medical advice to help pet parents like us give their pups the happy & healthy lives they deserve!


The medical, nutritional, or behavioral advice we provide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our editorial content is not a substitute for formal or personalized medical advice from a veterinary professional. Only board-certified veterinary specialists who have examined your pet should diagnose medical conditions, provide personalized treatment, or prescribe appropriate medication. For questions regarding your pet’s health, or if your pet is exhibiting signs of illness, injury, or distress, contact your veterinarian immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.