Giardia is a microscopic intestinal parasite that affects humans, dogs, and cats. Common signs include diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. However, it is possible for your pet to be infected without clinical signs or symptoms. The risk of humans acquiring a Giardia infection from dogs and cats is small. The exact type of Giardia that infects humans is usually not the same type that infects dogs and cats. Giardia is spread through the feces. Giardia is one of the parasites that is not treated and prevented with your monthly heartworm, flea, or tick preventatives.
Pets can become infected by ingesting grass that has been contaminated with infected feces (poop), rolling in contaminated soil, licking its body after contact with a contaminated surface, drinking water from a creek or pond. Younger pets are at higher risk of illness than adults. Good hygiene and picking up after your pet can help decrease the risk of pet reinfection. If your pet has any signs of diarrhea or frequently goes to dog parks, likes to swim in creeks or lakes, and goes to doggie day care frequently, ask our veterinarians about testing your pet for possible Giardia.