Giardia in Dogs: Can My Dog Give Me Giardia? According To Experts

You might find yourself having to see the vet often, give her meds she refuses to take, and make special meals to help her feel better while she is ill.

It might even be necessary to confine her to a box while she heals or to take her outside when she wants to use the restroom.

Even though they aren’t very enjoyable, most owners are prepared to perform these tasks in order to care for their beloved buddy. After all, the majority of us regard our dogs as part of the family, and you take care of family members when they are ill.

However, ailing pets can occasionally make their owners ill, just like sick family members. Giardia is one such troublesome parasite that frequently infects dogs. Although serious sickness is rarely brought on by giardia, it should still be addressed seriously.

Below, we’ll discuss giardia, how it affects canines, and how it spreads to people.

Giardia in Dogs: Important Lessons

  • A small parasite called Giardia can make many animals unwell. The majority of the time, it only results in mild to severe disease, mostly gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea.
  • Giardia can infect dogs from a variety of different places. Because it mostly spreads orally through feces, animals are infected when they consume contaminated food or water.
  • Giardia, regrettably, can probably be acquired from your dog. There is some controversy over this, but it seems sensible to take basic precautions to stay healthy, including washing your hands following contact with your dog.
  • Fortunately, both dogs and humans may easily get rid of giardia. The problem may usually be resolved with a short course of antiparasitic drugs, however immunocompromised canines or people are more vulnerable.

What Is Giardia?

Giardia is a protozoan, a type of single-celled creature. In actuality, depending on whose authority you consult, the term “giardia” describes anywhere between six and forty different species.

Giardia has two main stages in its lifecycle. Mature organisms have a head area and several tiny flagella that are used for propulsion, giving them the appearance of tiny octopi.

They move into the second stage of their lifecycle, referred to as a cyst, before leaving the host’s body. These tiny cysts are remarkably durable and resistant, which helps them survive in the outer environment.

Infected animals’ intestines are where giardia commonly lives. Giardia can infect a wide variety of species, from beavers to cattle. Additionally, it can spread to people, domestic cats, and dogs.

Giardia spreads orally by the fecal-oral route, in which the diseased animal excretes cysts that fresh animals eat through contaminated food or water to become infected.

What Symptoms Are Caused by Giardia?

The symptoms that Giardia produces are exactly what you would anticipate an intestinal parasite to produce.

Infection warning signs include:

  • diarrhea (the most typical)
  • a lot of gas
  • stomach aches
  • dirty stools
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of weight (if untreated)
  • Vomiting (rare in humans, but occurs in canines)
  • Poor state of the coat

How Does Giardia Affect Dogs?

Giardia is a fairly common bacteria in the environment, and it is extremely simple for dogs to contract the disease.

Dogs can contract it by licking, chewing, or ingesting anything that has been contaminated with cysts because it is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. In a way, it surprises me that they don’t receive it more frequently.

Simply licking or chewing on the incorrect area of grass could make your dog sick. She could also consume water from a pond or puddle that has been polluted with the bacterium. She might also contract it if she suckles on unclean teats or comes too near to the genitalia of an infected dog while performing the whole butt-sniffing thing.

How Do People Get Giardia?

In contrast to dogs, people often do not lick grass or casually smell butts. Instead, drinking contaminated water is how most people contract giardia. This indicates that it is often highly prevalent in underdeveloped countries and rather rare in industrialized countries.

Although beaver ponds are infamous for harboring giardia germs, even pure rivers and man-made ponds can be sources of infection. Many people actually catch the sickness by not properly treating water while camping in backcountry settings.

Giardia infection is another common result of bad hygiene habits. For instance, a sick food worker could not wash his or her hands before preparing your burger and fries or use gloves. You eventually eat the meal and consume infectious cysts.

Giardia From Dog to Human: Can My Dog Lick Me Contract Giardia?

Giardia has the potential to be zoonotic, which means that it can spread from animals to people. This indicates that your pet dog has the potential to infect you with giardia.

Giardia can be transmitted to humans from dogs in a similar manner to how it is often acquired.

In essence, your dog will excrete cysts in her excrement, and you may unintentionally ingest some of these cysts.

Take into account, for instance, the following examples of potential human infection:

  • Your dog approaches you and gives you a huge, sloppy kiss after licking her butt. This will cover your face in cysts, some of which may make their way into your mouth (dogs’ mouths are not, according to common belief, cleaner than human mouths).
  • Your dog licks her exit and then starts to groom the rest of her coat. Later, you wind yourself touching your dog, which causes the cysts to cover your hands. After that, when you prepare a snack, the cysts end up infecting your sandwich.
  • After scooping up your dog’s waste at the park, you neglect to wash your hands. Later, you take out your chapstick and coat your lips and mouth with it as well as several giardia cysts.
  • In the morning, your dog goes outside to heed the call of the natural world. She then enters the house and lies on furniture, even your pillow. You wind up wiping your face all over the pillow later that night and swallowing some of the cysts in the process.

There are numerous different circumstances in which your dog might infect you with giardia. Thankfully, pet-to-person transmission isn’t very prevalent, which is good news for pet owners.

So while it is possible to contract giardia from your dog licking you, it’s not very likely. Giardia infections in people are most frequently brought on by polluted water.

Some authorities claim that the main giardia species that infects dogs is different from the one that typically sickens humans, although other reliable sources dispute this claim.

You should always presume that you can contract giardia from your dog in order to be safe.

Dog Giardia Treatment: How Is Giardia Cured?

Giardia is typically quite simple to treat, which is good news for both you and your pet. In reality, the same medications are frequently used to treat sick humans and dogs with intestinal parasites.

The two main medications used to get rid of giardia are:

Panacur’s Fenbendazole

Flagyl (metronidazole)

These are two typical drugs that are used to treat different types of roundworms and protozoans, respectively. Both have a long history of use and are generally safe.

Additionally, it can be required to administer drugs to treat nausea or diarrhea, and certain animals (particularly those with two legs) might need IV fluids if they’ve dehydrated.

The majority of healthy people and animals will recover from giardia within a few weeks.

However, those who have additional medical issues, particularly those that impair immune systems, may experience more severe effects. Extremely young, extremely old, and even pets are all more susceptible to catastrophic sickness or even death.

Your veterinarian will request a sample of your dog’s feces and may order tests to have the contents of your dog’s stool examined if you bring your dog in with giardia suspicions.

Your veterinarian will prescribe the proper medication after confirming that giardia is the issue and ask you to come back in a few weeks. He or she can next request a follow-up stool examination to be sure the illness has vanished.

Giardia prevention for dogs and for yourself

Even though giardia is generally simple to treat, neither humans nor animals enjoy getting it. Therefore, it is preferable to make an effort to avoid contracting the ailment in the first place.

In order to do that, be sure to adopt the following behaviors:

  • After engaging with your pet, wash your hands. Practically speaking, few dog owners are likely to wash their hands after petting their pets, but at the absolute least, wash your hands before touching your mouth or face. Remember to wash your hands after touching the food and water bowls for your dog.
  • Clean up your dog’s waste. If you have numerous pets or if your kids frequently play in the backyard, this is especially crucial. It’s advisable to keep your dog away from parks and other places that have been heavily contaminated by feces.
  • Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times. Make sure your dog doesn’t need to drink from questionable water sources to satiate her thirst because drinking contaminated water can lead to infection in many dogs. One option is to install a dog water fountain that runs continuously.
  • Keep your dog away from the park poop as much as possible. Dogs frequently feel the need to sniff whatever feces they come across on walks, whether it be rabbit poop or dog dung from other dogs. Even while you probably won’t be able to completely stop the practice, take extra precautions in the dog park and try to avoid it.
  • When letting your pet swim in lakes and rivers, exercise caution. While swimming, dogs invariably ingest some water, and giardia is frequently present in rivers and lakes. Choose the cleanest water sources you can if you must let your dog swim and you don’t have access to a pool that welcomes pets.
  • Clean up mishaps effectively. If your dog accidentally craps inside the house, make sure to clean the area quickly and completely. After cleaning the area with soap and water, sanitize it with a 1:32 solution of bleach and water. Before cleaning up the bleach solution, make sure to give it at least one minute to sit. Sterilizing carpet or upholstery is difficult, but a steam cleaner’s heat can kill the parasites.
  • Regularly give your pet a bath. In order to prevent your dog from accidentally ingesting any giardia cysts that may be on her coat, bathe her frequently.

Dogs and humans alike do not enjoy having giardia, but the majority of healthy people will recover after therapy. Just remember to take the preventative steps outlined above, and visit your veterinarian any time your dog experiences diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a human get Giardia from dog saliva?

A: It is highly unlikely for a human to contract Giardia from dog saliva alone. The primary mode of transmission for Giardia is through ingestion of contaminated water or food that contains the parasite’s cysts. While it is theoretically possible for Giardia to be present in dog saliva, the risk of transmission from dog saliva is considered very low.

Q: Can you get Giardia from dog kisses?

A: The risk of getting Giardia from dog kisses is minimal. Giardia is primarily transmitted through the ingestion of the parasite’s cysts, which are usually found in contaminated water or food. While it is possible for Giardia to be present in the mouth of an infected dog, the transmission of the parasite through casual contact, such as dog kisses, is unlikely.

Q: How transmissible is Giardia in dogs?

A: Giardia can be highly contagious among dogs, especially in environments where there is poor hygiene or close contact between infected and uninfected dogs. The parasite is typically spread through fecal-oral transmission, meaning dogs become infected by ingesting the cysts shed in the feces of infected animals. Prompt treatment and good hygiene practices, such as regular cleaning and proper waste disposal, can help reduce the transmission of Giardia among dogs.

Q: How is Giardia transmitted to humans?

A: Giardia can be transmitted to humans through the ingestion of water or food contaminated with the cysts of the parasite. This can occur when water sources, such as lakes or streams, are contaminated with fecal matter containing Giardia cysts. Additionally, poor hygiene practices, such as not washing hands properly after handling infected animals or contaminated surfaces, can also contribute to the transmission of Giardia to humans. It is important to practice good hygiene, including handwashing, to reduce the risk of Giardia infection.