Giardia is a form of protozoa, which is a one-celled organism.Â Giardia lives in the small intestines of dogs and cats.Â It is believed that infection with Giardia is common, but complications of any kind are very rare.Â Dogs infected with Giardia have a disease called giardiasis.
Giardia is contracted by eating the cyst form of the parasite, which lives in the feces of animals that have been infected.Â A dog which eats these feces, or anything around the feces, such as a source of water, becomes infected.Â When the Giardia gets to the small intestines, it burrows in, creating a cyst where it multiplies, until the cyst bursts.
It is difficult to detect Giardia because it is asymptomatic.Â This means that it normally doesnât reveal itself through the appearance of any symptoms.Â Occasionally, if the dog is young enough, it may have diarrhea, but this is rare.Â Sometimes, the feces of a dog with giardiasis is white and oily, but this is not always the case.
Testing for Giardia is difficult as well.Â Giardia does not appear in all stool samples, which means multiple tests need to be taken over many days.Â If it is found, and the dog does not display any negative symptoms, it becomes a question of whether to take actionÂ (which may itself be more dangerous than the Giardia). Â
It is still unclear whether Giardia that exists in dogs can be spread to human hosts.Â Your safest bet is to wash your hands often when handling anything that is associated with your dogâs waste or saliva.