Is Giardia in Dogs Contagious?

Giardia in dogs is a protozoan infection that causes diarrhea. The infection can be transmitted from affected dogs to healthy ones through contact with feces, but also through water and soil that contains cysts. Whether canine giardia is contagious to humans is still under debate.

Giardia Is Contagious to Dogs

Giardia is an infection that will affect the gastrointestinal tract and may cause symptoms such as diarrhea with a foul odor and vomiting in rare cases. Dehydration is common in dogs that have the infection.

The infection is transmitted through the cysts, which may be easily ingested.

Giardia can be transmitted through contact with dog feces that are infected with the protozoans.

The giardia organisms may also be present in water and sand or soil that may contain traces of infested dog feces.

The giardia cysts may survive in stagnant water and soil for several months.

If your dog is suspect of being infected, he should be tested. The fecal tests may not always be relevant, as the giardia cysts may often be mistaken for pollens or yeast cells. However, if the feces are tested for giardia proteins, the test results are more relevant.

Giardia: Zoonitic or Not?

There are several infections in dogs that may be transmitted to humans; these diseases are known as zoonotic. However, whether giardia is such a zonotic disease, is still under debate.

Some specialists will claim that the dog strains are different from the human strains of giardia. Others opine that canine giardia cysts may be transmitted to humans through feces or contaminated soil or water. Children are more exposed to contracting the infection.

However, giardia from cats is clearly contagious to humans, as the feline strains and human strains are very much alike.

In humans, giardia doesn’t present severe symptoms, as the immune system will quickly fight the infection. Some people may have no symptoms. However, in children, the symptoms may be visible.

Be Cautious

Regardless of the response to whether giardia is zoonotic or not, it’s important to handle an infected dog with great care. Wear plastic gloves when you groom your pet and when you get rid of his excrements. Disinfect all areas that may contain fecal matter in your home or yard. Bleach can kill the giardia cysts.

Wash your hands each time after playing with your pet (even if you wear gloves) or after playing with other dogs in the park.

Don’t drink water from ponds or questionable sources.

If possible, try not to expose your dog to other canines that may be infected with giardia.

If your dog is infected with giardia, warn all dog owners that you come in contact with and make sure to keep your dog isolated.

If you have several pets in your home, you should isolate the infected one, but administer treatment in the others as well, as chances are they are infected as well. Metronidazole and fenbendazole are effective in treating giardia in dogs.