Breeder Support :

Giardia - Puppy Poop Problems



We are happy to present you with the following information. 


If you have any questions, please send through an email



The medical information on this page is for reference only and we cannot be held liable for any practices a puppy owner may choose to use on their own dog. 


We strongly recommend that owners of sick puppies seek the professional advice from a licensed Veterinarian in a timely manner upon the puppy showing any clinical signs of illness.





Giardia are single celled organisms (a parasitic protozoa) that are found in the intestines of almost every dog on the planet.  These microscopic "parasites" cling to the surface of the intestine or float free in the mucous lining of the intestine, and they occur in two types (or forms):


Type A = the live, adult, mobile, feeding stage that lives in the intestine, and


Type B = the non-mobile, hard cyst form (or egg) stage that passes in the poop



Type A:  When a puppy has Type A then poop formation can have a consistency that ranges from watery and gravy like  to a "pudding" formation.  These type of poops occur when the Giardia travels to the large intestine, where they actively feed and breed to a number of protozoa that eventually cause this intestinal upset.  Diarhea is the most common symptom and can be severe or mild, and can have some mucous or blood and have a really bad smell to it.  There can also be flatulence and bloating of the stomach.


If this happens to your puppy DO NOT PANIC.  Usually the diarrhea will go away on its own as the puppy's immune system matures and the puppy will be fine.  Sometimes a severe case of Giardia can cause weight loss and malabsorption of nutrition (evidenced by lethargy) at which stage a vast number of Giardia protozoa are instigating this reaction, and then treatment is obviously required. 


The usual treatment for a severe case of Giardia is to give the puppy Panacur for 10 straight days (dosage of 1cc per 10 pounds of body weight given once a day).  If the outbreak in the puppy is at an acute stage and left untreated it may be followed by a chronic syndrome of malabsorption diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain that last for months with on and off flare ups.  While it remains unproven, this acute stage may be a pre-curser to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.



Type B:  Puppies and adult dogs can test positive for Giardia cysts in a stool sample but have no clinical signs of a live Giardia infestation.  Some adult dogs are chronic shedders of Giardia in cyst form and yet NEVER have diarrhea.  It is not necessary to treat dogs for Giardia if they do not exhibit any clinical signs.  In adult dogs treatment with Metronidazole is often enough to eradicate the problem.  Metronidazole is a mild antibiotic as well as an antiprotozoal drug that is used for many different causes of diarrhea in dogs.  Adult dogs have a mature immune system and better able to handle an outbreak of Giardia then puppies.  That is why puppies are often more affected with diarrhea when they are young and first home from the breeder, but as their immune system matures the clinical signs of Giardia often disappear.




How Did My Puppy Get Giardia?


Veterinarians are very often quick to blame the breeder of the puppy as the source of infestation, and while it is true that a lot of kennels provide an environment well suited to hosting Giardia protozoa, it must be understood that Giardia is very common in the environment and can be contacted by puppies anywhere in their daily routine. 



Prevention of the spread of parasites has always been the number one priority here at Herdabout Shelties.  We installed synthetic grass in all our dog yards for easy disinfection with a liquid solution sprayed on the grass and hosed into the ground.  Because our dogs cannot dig through the synthetic grass, they cannot re-infect themselves by coming in contact with shed cysts that would live in the dirt.  We also initiated a parasite prevention program with our veterinarian to give our puppies preventative treatment for both Giardia (with Panacur) and Coccidia (with Baycox) just in case there are any cysts in our puppy's intestines --  the medications would kill off any existing protozoa before they become an outbreak.  


However,  as careful we are with our puppies, it must be understood that an infestation of Giardia (or Coccidia) can occur after a mere 48 hours in the puppy's new home that was NOT initiated here.  That is why there is a 48 hour waiting period on the health insurance... if a puppy gets sick within 48 hours of going to his new home, the puppy came in contact with the illness while under the breeder's care... if the puppy gets sick after 49 hours or more, the puppy would have picked up the disease after leaving the breeder's care and property.


This protozoa is transmitted by the puppy coming in contact with Giardia cysts.  They are commonly found in water, such as wells, ponds, creeks and puddles.  A bird bath, or pond is the worst thing a dog owner can have in their yard.  An adult dog shedding cysts on the sidewalk, the road, your front lawn can be picked up by your puppy simply taking a lick of wet grass, of licking his paws after stepping in an area where cysts have been shed, and then an outbreak can occur.  Once a puppy ingests a single Giardia cyst, the cyst breaks open (hatches) in the intestine and releases the mobile and translucent adult into it's feeding stage (called a trophozoite).  Then the Giardia reproduce, and increase their number by dividing itself in half by a process called binary fission.


Puppies, or dogs, that eat their own, (or other dog's poop) are quite commonly affected by Giardia.  Dog parks, training schools, vet's offices (parking lot and lawns) are a haven of parasites that are being shed by their doggy users.  We figure that 85% of all puppies attending obedience classes are carriers of Giardia cysts and shed them when attending classes.  Puppy playtimes in class can be one of the biggest transmitter of cysts, as puppies wrestle and play with each other, sniffing each others butts and mouthing areas of fur where cysts can be attached.


It is only because most puppy owners do not get regular stool checks on their puppies, and often never take in a poop sample for analysis until their puppy show clinical signs, that most puppy owners are unaware that their dogs even have the partozoa parasite.


During VETERINARY medical treatment of Giardia in your puppy, it should be noted that a daily "bum bath" should be given to your puppy using a dog shampoo and water to wash off any cysts that my be clinging to the fur around the back end of the puppy.  This would best be done before putting the puppy to bed for the night (when there is a prolonged time without pooping).  Also a daily washing of water bowls, buckets, food bowls, and puppy bedding will help kill of any cysts that may have been transferred to those items by contact with the puppy.  Sometimes puppies will step into their water bowls and if there is any poop crumbs or cysts on their feet, then the protozoa is again transferred to the water bowl and there is risk of re-infection.


Once the 10 day treatment for Giardia has been complete, a thorough disinfection of the puppy's crate, bedding, toys etc. should help prevent re-infestation.  Your household floors and carpets are not good hosts for Giardia cysts.  While it is true that the cysts can survive for a lengthy period once having been shed by their host, the cysts prefer a moist environment which is why water is such a frequent course of infection.  Using a good chlorine product (such as Javex or Clorox bleach) for disinfection will kill off any cysts in bedding and on dishes.  This is also why Giardia will NEVER be found in town water from your tap.  Town water has been treated with chlorine from the water treatment plant and is safe for drinking.  Water from wells (drilled or dug "sandpoint") however, can be a source of contamination and infection.


In humans, Giardia is often called "Beaver Fever" or "Traveller's Diarrhea".  This is because of the water that beavers and muskrats live in is the same water they poop in, and these animals have Giardia carriage rates between 16 and 95%.  Anyone (dog or human) coming in contact with the contaminated water source (drinking or swimming), even accidently, can result in a large dose of cysts entering the digestive tract.


The significance of a puppy serving as the source of infection in humans is unknown, and until proven otherwise, we should assume that Giardia can be transmitted from animal to human from the ingesting of cysts and that doing things like kissing your poop covered puppy could be possible to contact an outbreak of Giardia.  However DO NOT PANIC, humans have a much stronger immune system then puppies do, and an acute infection in a human from a single cyst is not likely.  Unless there is an immune compromised human involved, there should be no reason for heightened concern.  Common sanitary practices, such as hand washing after picking up puppy poop, before eating, etc. should serve enough to prevent human infection of Giardia.



If you have any questions, please send through an email





705 - 429 - 0833

Located in the Southern Georgian Bay

Region of Ontario Canada

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