What To Feed A Dog With Giardia? Symptoms and Treatments

What To Feed A Dog With Giardia

Dealing with an infectious disease in dogs can be a nightmare for every pet parent, especially if that disease is Giardia infection.

And especially if you are wondering what to feed a dog with giardia.

Good and balanced nutrition is essential for both healthy and sick dogs. Infected dogs with Giardia have lower immunity and might require special diets during the infection.

Stay with us; we will help you create a good diet for your infected dog!

Key Takeaways:

  • Giardia is a widespread disease in dogs, and treating Giardia is a complex process that includes prescription medication and natural remedies.
  • Take good environmental hygiene measures while owning a dog to prevent spreading infections.
  • Changing the dog’s diet in Giardia-infected animals can improve disease control.

What is Giardia Infection in Dogs?

Giardia spp. is a protozoan parasite that affects the intestines and causes Giardiasis in dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the most common Giardiasis in veterinary medicine is caused by G. duodenalis (also known as Giardia intestinalis), which affects and weakens the dog’s small intestine.

There are different types of Giardia parasites in dogs, but each Giardia parasite has its specific host.

This disease is zoonosis, which means that it can affect people as well. But that’s not all. These tiny parasites infest not only dogs. It can also affect birds, muskrats, voles, cats, sheep, goats, pigs, etc.

According to the European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP), the risk of dog-human transmission is very low. But infected humans can be a risk for their dogs.

In companion animals, dogs are mostly infected by this disease compared to cats. It is also important to mention that young dogs are mostly infected by this disease. If you just adopted a puppy, be especially careful where you take your dog for walks. And also, observe their movements!

Transmission of Giardia in Dogs

Giardia is a parasite that can persist in different environments for several days. It can survive for months before finding its next host.

Their main place of inhibition is the lumen of small intestines. There are no intracellular stages in the intestines, and the different forms of the parasite travel through the intestines.

There are 2 forms of Giardia. The trophozoite form lives in the small intestine of the animal, while the cystic stage is shed in feces.

After this prepatent period, the infection leads to cysts in the feces, which is infectious. The cyst in the outdoor environment can survive for several days or even months. Cysts need cool and damp environments to survive.

We advise you to be extra careful when you visit a dog park because this is where dogs get infected most frequently. The transmission is through fecal-oral or direct contact with the infected host.

The feces from other animals is a major source of Giardia. This parasitic infection can also spread from contaminated food and water.

You can even use dog shampoo when you come home from your daily walk with your dog.

Is this a solution to avoid a Giardia infection? No, it is definitely not. But it will especially help you to protect your dog as much as possible.

If a healthy dog gets in contact with a sick dog directly or indirectly, it can lead to Giardia.

Bear in mind that contaminated food, contaminated soil, or contaminated water can also lead to Giardia in dogs. So, inspect the environment carefully the next time you are hiking with your dog. This very simple step can keep your dog healthy and safe for many years.

Good environmental hygiene can keep your dog safe from many diseases, not just Giardia. So, carefully choose a vet clinic, grooming salon, and pet shop for your furry buddy.

Giardia Symptoms in Dogs

The most common symptoms of Giardia in dogs include gastrointestinal symptoms. This includes:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Dull coat
  • Appetite issues

In general, you should call a veterinarian immediately if you notice changes in your dog’s health. The vomiting and diarrhea should be managed as soon as possible because they can lead to a severe case of dehydration.

Severe cases of dehydration can lead to noticeable weight loss and changes in the dog’s appetite.

Let us clarify a bit more! It does not necessarily mean that if your dog’s digestive system is acting strange, it is Giardia. But these symptoms are a huge red flag for your dog’s well-being.

Diarrhea and vomiting are common symptoms of many diseases. However, persistent symptoms require immediate attention.

On the other hand, clinical giardiasis in dogs manifests with soft feces. To describe it a bit more, it has the following characteristics in most dogs’ feces:

  • Soft
  • Poorly formed
  • Pale
  • Malodorous
  • Mucous
  • Fatty

Be especially careful if you own a young dog. These dogs have compromised immune systems, and getting Giardia can be life-threatening. In general, this disease is prevalent in young dogs but is also heavily manageable.

Diagnosis of Giardia in Dogs

Here comes the tricky part! Diagnosing Giardia in dogs can only be done with a fecal sample.

We hope that you already have an experienced veterinarian who will suspect Giardiosis and ask to perform a fecal test.

After you bring the sample to your vet, he has 2 choices:

  • Detection of Giardia antigen
  • Detection of Giardia cysts or trophozoites

If you are lucky enough, you can collect your dog’s feces during your vet visit. If not, you should bring one sample before you visit the vet.

Pet owners who have multiple dogs should test all of them. Treating only one dog and leaving the others untreated won’t lead to success.

It might seem like the other dog is completely healthy. But, you must test it to ensure this.

Treatment of Giardia in Dogs

So, how to stop this disease?

Our first advice is to start with treatment as soon as possible. In the beginning, you must address the clinical signs.

An animal affected with Giardia usually needs benzimidazoles, including fenbendazole, metronidazole, or albendazole. According to Raúl Argüello-García, benzimidazoles have great anti-Giardia potency.

But this is not the end of the story!

Some pets can shed Giardia cysts even after the treatment process, and there is a huge debate about whether they should continue the treatment process.

Benzimidazoles are recommended from 3 to 10 days, and the following therapy depends on an individual basis. Each animal needs to be evaluated separately.

During the treatment, you must protect yourself as much as possible. Wearing gloves will help you avoid direct contact with feces and infected soil outdoors.

What Is the Best Food for Dogs With Giardia?

Food treatment is as important as regular drugs during the healing process of Giardia. First of all, you must keep your dog comfortable. This is a very annoying disease that puts your dog in constant discomfort and upset.

Here is some weird information! Some veterinarians require fasting for 24-48 hours to achieve a gastrointestinal break. This is a very good choice, but only when advised by a professional.

Don’t practice this on your own without prior consultation!

Although it might seem like a cruel treatment, it helps dogs a lot.

Try to compensate the kibble or wet food with the same amount of cooked “human food”. Diarrhea is persistent in cases of Giardia, so you may add cooked rice and chicken to normalize the digestion.

The following foods may help your dog while fighting Giardia disease:

  • White rice
  • Yogurt
  • Pumpkin
  • Potatoes
  • Probiotics

You must choose food that will be gentle for your pet’s stomach. If you are looking for a meat-based meal, consider chicken or turkey. Meat is a good protein source that contains excellent amounts of essential nutrients that will contribute to the recovery process.

Rice and pumpkin are excellent choices of easily digestible carbohydrates. Don’t add any spices while cooking these foods.

You can always add probiotics to your pet’s nutrition. It will help in recovering the gut health. But remember to consult with a veterinarian before adding probiotics.

But wait, there’s more!

You need to be careful about your dog’s water. You must provide your dog with fresh drinking water. This will minimize the chances of getting your dog infected again.

Treating Giardia with the right food and recommended medications will lead to health improvements in a few weeks. Make sure to clean all the surfaces and keep good hygiene to eliminate Giardia once and for all.

To avoid reinfection, we have another great tip. Clean the food bowl daily with boiling water, steam cleaner, or disinfectant. Cleaning the dog’s toys, clothes, blanket, or bedding is also helpful.

There aren’t any strict rules for avoiding food, but we have some suggestions. Avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods during the treatment period. Pets struggle to digest them and might exacerbate the symptoms.

When your pet is completely healed, you will probably want to switch to its regular wet or dry food. It would help if you did this gradually so your dog can adapt well without any consequences.

Natural Home Remedies for Giardia Dogs Treatment

Let’s move to the bad news now!

No home remedy has been proven effective in treating Giardia in dogs. Even antiparasitic drugs are not 100% effective.

You can include some natural remedies to treat Giardia, but it will never have the same effect as benzimidazoles and other vet-approved drugs.

Oregon grape can be used as a natural antibiotic. The recommended dosage is 12 drops for every 20 pounds of the dog’s body weight daily. Oregon grape is not recommended for pregnant females or a dog with liver disease.

Some holistic professionals say garlic is a natural remedy that can destroy Giardia in dogs. But we don’t suggest garlic because it is highly toxic to dogs. Even a tiny amount of it can lead to toxicosis or poisoning.

Make sure to consult with a veterinarian before you add any natural home remedies. The dose for each home remedy is based on the body weight of the animal. For example, small dogs should consume much lower amounts of natural remedies than medium or large dogs.

There are also many supplements that will help you treat Giardia in dogs, but consult with a veterinarian before you start the treatment process. These supplements and natural remedies can boost the immune system of the animal.


Is a dog with Giardia always hungry?

A dog with Giardia can have changes in its appetite. The most common change is decreased appetite. This means that dogs with Giardia are not usually hungry.

Does yogurt help in dogs with Giardia?

Yogurt is a probiotic that can positively affect gut health. Advise a veterinarian before you add yogurt to your Giardia-infected dog.

Can my dog with Giardia lick me?

The risk of getting Giardia from your dog is very low, so you shouldn’t worry much about it. However, to reduce the risk, regularly wash your hands after getting in very close contact with your dog.

According to the American Kennel Club, Giardia in humans usually occurs after the consumption of contaminated water or food, and not from pets.

When should I stop treating my dog’s Giardia?

Veterinarians decide about the length of the treatment process. Usually, they repeat tests to ensure that the Giardia left your dog’s system.

Final Words

We encourage all dog owners to contact veterinarians as soon as they notice some gastrointestinal upset in their pets. This might be more serious than you can even imagine.

Changing your pet’s diet while fighting a serious infectious disease can be crucial in the treatment process.

Knowing what to feed a dog with Giardia is a severe challenge for many pet owners. What did you change in your pet’s diet to beat Giardia? Let us know in the comments below!

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