Help! Is It Diarrhea, or Is It Giardia?

Giardia: Sounds bad, but what is it actually? Something about poop? That much is true, but there is much more to learn.

What is giardia actually?

Giardia is a parasite that lives inside the small intestine, and causes diarrhea. Although diarrhea is the main symptom, it doesn't need to be present for giardia to exist. That’s why it’s best to test your pet’s poop twice a year (it's called a fecal test, and your veterinarian can do it)!

The most common source of giardia is contaminated water. But if your dog is naughty and sometimes maybe kinda sorta eats some other dog’s poop (ew, but it happens) they can contract giardia that way, too.

My poor dog! How do I fix it?

Before you can treat giardia, a veterinarian needs to properly diagnose it through a fecal test (the only way to know for sure). After exposure, it take 5-12 days for the parasite to show up in a stool sample.

Sometime the diarrhea will precede the appearance of the parasites in a sample, but not necessarily! Since it can be a symptomless infection, you should do regular fecal screenings to make sure your pup is in tip-top shape.

If giardia is found, a broad spectrum dewormer called fenbendazole or an antibiotic called metronidazole are traditionally prescribed to treat it. To avoid reinfection, make sure to bathe your animal at least once during the course of infection to prevent pesky parasites sticking to their fur.

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