Overview of Giardia in Dogs

What is Giardia?

The term "Giardia" is actually a shortened term that can either refer to Giardiasis (the state of being infected with the Giardia parasite), or the (the type of parasite that causes Giardiasis). Like many parasitic infections, Giardia is characterized by an organism infiltrating a dog's systems in order to survive. This usually causes adverse health effects, which manifest as the symptoms of this condition.

Is Giardia Dangerous?

Though an infection with Giardia is not intitially fatal to your dog's health, it can develop into a very serious condition. Since the Giardia organisms interfere with the normal absorption of your dog's food, this can result in malnutrition, weight loss, and other serious symptoms. In addition to this, due to the frequent diarrhea that most dogs experience when infected with Giardia, a dog may also become severely dehydrated.

Is Giardia Treatable?

Fortunately, there are many different treatment options currently available for treating a dog infected with Giardia. Although there are several different medications that are available over the counter for treating Giardia, it is still very important not to use any medication until consulting your veterinarian. Since the symptoms of Giardia are very similar to some other medical conditions, it's essential to first obtain a positive diagnosis for Giardia from your veterinarian prior to consulting them about any medications.

The treatment options for Giardia are relatively effective, though it may be necessary for your veterinarian to prescribe several different medications before the Giardia infection is eliminated completely.

How can I prevent Giardia in my Dog?

Giardia is transmitted through direct contact with contaminated water, food, or fecal material from an infected animal. The best way to prevent Giardia is to avoid bringing your dog to areas where a known Giardia infection is present.

This may include some waterfront areas, most of which undergo regular testing by the state. Though there is a vaccine that has been developed, it has not yet been effective in preventing Giardia.

Instead, the vaccine merely helps treat an existing Giardia condition. This vaccine is still in experimental stages, and may be the precursor to a true preventive vaccine against Giardia.