Giardia is a protozoan parasite that can infect both humans and animals. This parasite is mostly seen in puppies and younger animals but can also infect older pets. Giardia is spread through the fecal- oral route. This means that the parasite is shed in the feces and then ingested by the newly infected pet.
Symptoms for Giardia include but are not limited to: diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. Usually though, it is found on routine fecal examination in an otherwise apparently healthy animal. Even in these cases where your pet does not appear to be sick, it is important to treat the Giardia to prevent the continued shedding of parasite into the environment and making your pet and others sick.
Once a pet is found to have Giardia, we will start with a course of therapy that usually lasts several days. Once the treatment is finished, a follow up fecal exam should be performed ~ 1 week after the completion of treatment. Based on this fecal exam, further courses of treatment may be needed. Giardia can be difficult to treat and may require several rounds of treatment in order to be fully rid of the parasite.
While Giardia can infect humans, there have not been any confirmed cases of domestic pets passing Giardia to humans. Even so, basic hygiene is recommended along with cleaning out all animals’ food and water bowls and cleaning their rectal area daily while undergoing treatment. If you have any questions about Giardia, please let us know.
Link to the CDC for additional information about giardia and pets