Diagnosis and treatment: Giardia in the dog

Many owners try to control giardia in dogs with the wrong treatment - and give anti-worm products. But they don't help against the small parasites. If your four-legged companion suffers from diarrhea or vomiting, you should always ensure that you have an exact diagnosis from the veterinarian. Giardia in dogs: Often they go undetected for a long time - Image: Shutterstock / Amor Kar

Rarely noticed and yet very exhausting for your dog: Giardias are not recognized as such in many cases. Owners usually confuse the parasite infection with worms or a food intolerance. In order to be sure what is behind symptoms like mild bloody diarrhea, vomiting and dull fur, a veterinarian should decide on the right treatment.

Diagnosis by the veterinarian

Only by examining the faeces can a veterinarian determine whether your dog has giardia. For a clear diagnosis, faecal samples must be collected over several days. The reason: Giardia do not have to appear in every excretion. To be really sure, multiple tests are necessary.

Some dog owners do not worry about further treatment if the first faecal sample has no giardia. Then it may be that the parasites still live in the dog's body, continue to be carried off and transmitted. After your dog is diagnosed with giardia infection, the vet will discuss an effective method of treatment with you. In such cases, treatment with worm preparations is not sufficient.

Treatment of giardia in dogs

Treatment for giardia in dogs is carried out with the active substances fenbendazole or metronidazole. Drugs with these agents kill the parasites. You will most likely have to repeat the medication treatment for your sick companion several times: the parasites can hide in the dog's bile duct and are therefore not always reached by the active ingredients. On the recommendation of the European Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (ESCCAP), your dog will initially be given medication for five days. Thereafter, the treatment of the giardia in the dog is interrupted for three days before another five-day drug therapy follows. The whole thing is ideally repeated after two weeks.

Accompanying conventional medical therapy, sparing food can help the dog to recover better from the Giardia infection. Milk and carbohydrates are taboo at this stage. In addition, preparations with beneficial intestinal bacteria can contribute to faster recovery. Ask an experienced veterinary practitioner about this. Important! Alternative methods of treatment for giardia in dogs can provide good support, but they cannot replace drug therapy.

Hygiene important against giardia in dogs

In the case of an infestation with the intestinal parasites, you should also pay attention to strict hygiene. Clean all blankets and pillows from the dog basket every day - preferably wash them hot. You should also rinse the water and food bowl and your dog's toys with boiling or very hot water (at least 65 degrees Celsius). After the walk, be sure to also clean your dog's anus and the fur around it! Furthermore, you can bathe your animal patient at the beginning and end of treatment with a special shampoo that contains the active ingredient chlorhexidine digluconate. Any faeces and traces of Giardia in the fur are rinsed out.

Out into the green: baby dogs in the great outdoors

Prevention of contagion

Please also think of others: wash your hands after stroking your four-legged friend. There are certain types of Giardia that dogs can transmit to humans; these are rare, but for safety's sake it is best not to take any risks. Babies, toddlers and other people with weak immune systems in particular need special protection. If you take your dog for a walk, remove the droppings so that other dogs are not infected. It is also better to remove manure piles in the garden or kennel as quickly as possible. The manure can be disposed of in household waste in a sealed plastic bag.

In addition, the parasites can be transmitted by flies - do not leave food residues and empty bowls, nor water bowls, so that no flies settle in them and spread the disease. Until your recovery, your dog should not come into contact with other animals - even if it is difficult. If this is not possible, it is advisable to treat all animal roommates against Giardia as well. Therefore, talk to your veterinarian. Follow the instructions of the doctor and pay attention to strict hygiene, the giardia in the dog will soon be a thing of the past.