Giardia in Dogs – Contagious To Humans?

Giardia in DogsGiardia in dogs is a parasitic condition caused by a protozoan organism called the giardia, which lives in the intestinal tract. The giardia parasite is so small that it sometimes cannot be identified in a fecal examination and, therefore, it may require several examinations for giardia in dogs to be detected. Additionally, it is debated as to whether or not the parasite itself causes disease, as there are many cases in which symptoms of giardia in dogs are not observable. In such examples, it is thought that a dog’s immune response to the giardia parasite is actually responsible for disease, and not the giardia parasite itself. This means that, although giardia infection may not be dangerous itself, complications stemming from the infection may lead to more serious conditions. For those dogs that do present with symptoms of giardia infection, telltale signs may be very similar to the most common canine parvovirus symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and lack of appetite. For this reason, giardia may be confused with another common cause of diarrhea, coccidia in dogs.

Many dog owners wonder whether or not they can contract the giardia parasite from their dog. The truth is, giardia in dogs is, in fact, contagious between dogs and humans. There are many over-the-counter treatments for giardia, but because giardia can easily be confused with other illnesses, it is important to consult your vet for a dog illness diagnosis before administering any medication. Humans infected with giardia should see a physician for treatment.

Because giardia in dogs and humans is so easily transmitted by way of infected surfaces, the best prevention is cleanliness. Be sure to stay clear of areas where infected dogs have been present, and keep your dog’s living and grooming areas clean with Lysol or bleach. There is a vaccination under development, but it is still in its early stages and only effective in treating already present giardia infections, as opposed to preventing them.