Giardia in Dogs: Causes, Natural Remedies, and Prevention

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The Can Dogs Eat It Team

Giardia in Dogs: Causes, Natural Remedies, and Prevention
Reading Time: 7 minutes

joana garridoReviewed By Joana Garrido DVM

Estimating the prevalence of giardia in dogs presents a challenge, yet some studies suggest it could reach up to 45%. Although this medical condition is not fatal, if unaddressed, it holds the potential to infect a significant number of canines. Furthermore, giardia carries zoonotic potential, signifying it can be transmitted to humans.

Let us discuss the causes of giardia and look into how it spreads from dog to dog. You will also learn how to treat this infection during its early stage using home remedies and know preventive measures to keep it from reoccurring.

What Is Giardia in Dogs?

a dog with giardiaGiardia is a protozoan parasite that infects and inhabits the small intestines.

Different types of giardia exist and they infect different types of animals. The most common giardia strain found in canines is Giardia lamblia, which is formerly known as Giardia doudenalis or Giardia intestinalis.

Once giardia infiltrates and colonizes a dog’s small intestines, it hampers the organ’s capacity to absorb water, electrolytes, and nutrients. Consequently, infected dogs are susceptible to weight and gastrointestinal issues. The infection is particularly detrimental as it causes profuse diarrhea.

What Is the Life Cycle of Giardia in Dogs?

an ill dogThe life cycle of giardia in dogs is comprised of two stages: cyst and trophozoite.

  • Cyst

Cyst is basically the egg or larvae form of Giardia. This microorganism comes with a hardy outer shell that allows it to survive for several weeks or months in a cool and damp area until it finds a suitable host.

For this reason, the giardia cyst is highly infectious in dogs.

  • Trophozoite

Trophozoites are the replicative form of giardia that multiply and colonize the small intestine of dogs.

During this life stage, they are in the active feeding stage. Trophozoites attach themselves to the intestinal wall, where they suck off nutrients.

Compared to cysts, they have a low survivability rate outside their host’s body. If ingested by canines, infection is unlikely to happen.

How Is Giardia Spread in Dogs?

giardia in dogsGiardia is passed through the feces of infected dogs. It can be spread to other canines in many ways, including:

  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Ingesting contaminated soil or feces
  • Chewing on items exposed to contaminated feces

2015 studies show that kenneled dogs are 44% more likely to contract giardia compared to domestic dogs. It indicates that giardia outbreaks are very likely to occur in canines living in close proximity to each other such as animal shelter dogs.

Is Giardia in Dogs a Fatal Condition?

No, giardia is rarely fatal in healthy adult dogs. However, it can be life-threatening to canines with weakened or underdeveloped immune systems such as elderly dogs and puppies.

Giardia may induce persistent diarrhea, which can lead these dogs to develop severe dehydration.

What Are the Most Common Giardia Symptoms in Dogs?

As mentioned earlier, giardia in dogs primarily affects the small intestines. So the most prevalent clinical signs infected canines will exhibit are GI issues such as:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Soft stool
  • Malodorous stool

Symptoms of giardia infection in dogs can signify the presence of a different parasite or an underlying health issue like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and intestinal malabsorption. Send your dog to the animal clinic to acquire an accurate diagnosis.

Depending on the veterinarian, they may suggest certain tests like fecal samples, antigen detection, and direct smears to determine if your dog is a giardia carrier.

2 Natural Remedies for Giardia in Dogs

Metronidazole and fenbendazole are traditional medications used to treat giardia in dogs. But some dog owners prefer to stinatural types of treatment for their pets. Thus, we have prepared natural home remedies that can help resolve giardia in dogs.

1. Pomegranate Peel Extract (Punica Granatum L.) as a Natural Remedy for Giardia in Dogs

Pomegranate Peel Extract for Giardia in dogs

A 2022 in vitro experiment shows that pomegranate peel extract has several antigiardia properties namely ellagic acid, luteolin, punicalin, and punicalagin.

Researchers observed that these compounds altered the cytoskeleton of giardia, which can decrease its chances of survival.

According to the results, pomegranate peel extract inhibited the single-celled parasite’s cell growth by 74.36% and reduced trophozoite adherence by 46.8%.


  1. Choose a preservative-free pomegranate peel extract supplement. Products containing artificial flavoring and coloring can potentially trigger allergic reactions in some dogs. This can increase the severity of diarrhea induced by giardia.
  2. Pomegranate peel extract supplements for dogs are hard to come by. If you decide to use human supplements as an alternative, make sure to check for seals of approval from any of the following:
    1. S. Pharmacopeia (USP)
    2. NSF International
    3. ConsumerLab

    The presence of such a label ensures that the product has undergone third-party testing to ensure that the supplement is of good quality.

  3. Administer 50 milligrams of pomegranate peel extract for every 2 pounds of body weight. Mix it with your  dog’s food if he is averse to taking it directly by mouth.
  4. Repeat twice a day until your dog’s giardia clears up.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Pomegranate peel extract exhibits a promising potential in decreasing the bacterial component, which contributes to the formation of dental plaque in canines.
  • It promotes improved antioxidant status and the digestive process of dogs.


  • While pomegranate peel extract is safe for dogs, pomegranate peel is not. The fruit’s skin contains tannins, which can make your dog sick. Do not feed it to him.

2. Curcumin (Curcuma longa) as a Natural Remedy for Giardia in Dogs

Turmeric for giardia in dogs

Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It has several health benefits for canines, from enhancing the immune system to minimizing arthritic pains.

Curcumin displays effectiveness against giardia in vitro. A  2017 study found that it significantly inhibited giardia trophozoite growth and adherence, similar to the impact of pomegranate peel extract.

But most importantly, curcumin damaged and destroyed several parts of trophozoite’s cellular structure. Deformation was observed in the membrane, flagella, and abdominal wall of the parasite.

According to the research, after exposure to 15 μM (micrometers) of curcumin, 80% of trophozoites lost their normal morphology.


  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons ground pepper
  • ⅛ cup virgin coconut oil
  • ¼ cup distilled water


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Use a cheesecloth or a colander to strain the turmeric tonic into a cup.
  3. Give your dog 15 to 20 milligrams of the liquid per 2 pounds of body weight daily.
  4. Pour the remaining liquid into an airtight jar and store it in the fridge until the next use. It can stay fresh for up to a week.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Curcumin acts as an antioxidant that scours the body for damaging free radicals and eliminates them. It aids in reducing the risk of serious canine ailments like cancer and diabetes.
  • Curcumin can help soothe aching joints because of its anti-inflammatory properties akin to that of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.


  • Do not go beyond the recommended dose. The most common side effects of excessive curcumin intake are vomiting and diarrhea. Thus, overdosing can hasten the manifestation of diarrhea in dogs infected with giardia.

Both natural remedies should only be used for mild giardia in dogs. If your dog’s condition is severe, these home treatments will not work. Take him to the pet clinic immediately for medical care.

Dogs whose signs of giardia infection have resolved must be retested to check for any remaining presence of these parasites. Avoid skipping this trip to the veterinarian to prevent giardia recurrence.

How to Prevent Giardia in Dogs?

giardia in dogs
Giardia in dogs can be prevented primarily through proper sanitation and good hygiene, such as:

  • When walking your dog outdoors, avoid damp areas since they are the ideal habitat for giardia cysts.
  • If you live in a giardia hotspot, get a filter that specializes in blocking out these parasites from the drinking water. The CDC recommends using less than or equal to a 1-micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction/removal” filter).
  • Boiling your dog’s drinking water for around 1 to 2 minutes is also effective in eliminating giardia. Make sure to let it cool down before letting your dog drink.
  • Give your dog a thorough wipedown with medicated wet wipes to remove giardia cysts from his fur.
  • Always sanitize areas where your dog frequents and clean his toys, bed, and other belongings weekly if possible. On the other hand, wash food and water bowls daily.

Dogs can be asymptomatic carriers of giardia. So aim to get your dog tested every 2 to 3 months to ensure that he is not infected.

The Giardia vaccine, designed to prevent the clinical symptoms of giardiasis and decrease cyst shedding in dogs and cats, is now commercially accessible in the USA. Its formulation reflects our current understanding of Giardia’s antigenicity and immunology.

FAQs About Giardia in Dogs

1. Can Dogs Be Cured of Giardia?

Yes, dogs can be cured of giardia. However, dog owners need to remember that their canine companions can get reinfected after recovery.

Hence, taking preventative measures should always be carried out to keep giardia from recurring.

2. How to Treat Giardia in Dogs Naturally?

Giardia in dogs can be treated naturally by using pomegranate peel extract supplements or curcumin.

Both of these home remedies showed effectiveness in suppressing the growth and reducing the adherence of giardia trophozoites. They were also able to damage these parasites’ cytoskeleton.

3. What Can I Feed My Dog with Giardia?

The most ideal food to feed a dog with giardia is bland food. Their easy digestibility helps your dog’s digestive tract rest and heal.

Keep in mind that this change in diet is only temporary as prolonged consumption of bland food can eventually lead to severe nutritional deficiencies.

Discuss with the veterinarian to know the duration of your dog’s bland food diet.

4. How Long Does It Take for Giardia to Go Away in Dogs?

It can take 1 to 2 weeks for giardia to go away in dogs provided that they receive proper treatment. Once they are officially free from these parasites, care should be taken so that reinfection will not occur.


Although giardia in dogs is rarely life-threatening, it should be treated immediately to prevent the infection from spreading out and causing outbreaks.

Natural remedies can work in resolving early and mild cases of giardia. Severe conditions, on the other hand, require prompt medical care. As this health problem can reoccur, strict adherence to sanitation and hygiene must be observed.

Most of the time, giardia in dogs is accompanied by diarrhea. Know how to manage this symptom with the help of our “4 Natural Remedies for Dog Diarrhea.