Giardia lamblia are highly contagious single-celled organism (protozoa) parasite that live in the small intestine of many animals including dogs.
Some dogs that has giardia protozoa inside their body doesnot show any signs or symptoms at all while others get sick and need medical treatments.
Giardia protozoa is unlike other parasites. They do not harm your dog by invading or destroying the tissues but simply being in the path which block or prevent nutrients absorbtion and digestion inside small intestine. This cause diarrhea due to partially digested food get lower in the digestive tract.
Giardia life cycle are divided into 2 stage.
a motile stage that live and feed in the host intestine (trophozoite) and non-motile cyst stage that passes on along with the feces.
During trophozoite stage, Giardia attach itself to the cells of the host intestine with it’s adhesive disc and then rapidly increase their number in a very short time by dividing itself in half which is called binary fission.
They may be detach from intestine if the intestinal flow is fast and appear inside or on the surface of the feces.
If giardia have more time to stay inside the host then they will formed a protective protein shell around itself (encystment) as they move on to the large intestine.
Giardia cyst is strong enough to survive for a few weeks to several months outside infected host body if the surrounding environment is right and sufficient moisture is present.
Spread and Transmission
Giardia is spread by direct contact with the feces of infected dogs which means that dog can be infected by eating or drinking anything that is contaminated with giardia cyst.
Once the cysts ingested into the body. Giardia cysts will break open to release motile feeding stage (trophozoite) inside the host small intestine and the life circle continue on.
Recently there is reports that giardiasis can be sexually transmitted.
Giardia can infect human. The clinical signs, spreading and symptoms are similar to those reported for dogs.
Giardia Symptoms Dog
- recurring or explosive diarrhea
- bloody, foul odor, greasy, pale color stools
- mucus in the stool
- weight loss
- loss of appetite (anorexia)
Dogs that has been infected with giardia may not show symptoms immediately. The signs may appear over a period of weeks, months, or even years in some case.