You may print or copy items ONLY for your own personal use! This Blog, information, and photos posted herein are copyright protected and remains the sole property of Cliff and Shela Nielsen.  No unauthorized use is permitted.

What is Giardia? (pronounced — Gee Are Dee Uh)

Giardia is a protozoa that lives inside the intestine of infected individuals and animals. It spreads through feces and since it has a protective shell it can exist outside the body for long periods of time. This is a disease that affects humans, dogs, cats, deer, birds, beavers, etc.

Growing up we remember the fairly frequent reference to Beaver Fever. It gained the nickname of Beaver Fever because Beavers frequently contaminated mountain streams and rivers with Giardia. Unknowing hikers, outdoors men, campers, and such would drink the water (without boiling it) and become infected.

Giardiasis (or infection with Giardia) often results in some pretty serious diarrhea. As you can see it is no respecter of species and can easily be carried from location to location by a bird or other critter. Given the right environment (warm and wet) it not only survive but flourish.

So what does this have to do with your Weimaraner? Giardiasis is common among dogs. Weims seem to susceptible to this infection. In the Pacific Northwest it is not uncommon to have Giardia carried into a puddle in your own backyard. Under the right conditions it can take off and multiply quickly. If your pet drinks this water it will become infected.

Another way for your pet to become infected is for them to pick up a cyst on their foot. While grooming they can ingest the cyst transporting it again to an environment where it will flourish–the gut. Ideally you would want to avoid areas where other animals eliminate, however, that is impossible. Even doing so, as we said it can be carried into your own yard. Hardier breeds such as Terriers often seem immune while other breeds (such as the Weimaraner) can easily contract this disease.

Diagnosis can be difficult and even a stool sample may not produce accurate results. There are many links below that go into great detail about symptoms, diagnosis, and varied thoughts on the disease. Most Canine Giardiasis is found when a pet develops severe on-going diarrhea. Some stools include mucous or blood. It is always wise to have your pet checked if they have on-going diarrhea. If you spot a bloody stool or mucous there is room for concern. Nevertheless, no need to panic because almost always these symptoms are controlled and the cause is removed.

Many times the treatment will be the same for other parasites, certain stomach ailments, and some infections. Some Vets will decide to treat even without a positive test results. There are many reasons some Veterinarians choose to treat without solid proof,  but primarily it is due to the fact that testing is not 100% accurate. Some dogs are in truth infected but do not pass evidence of the infection in every stool.

Regardless, going out to the yard and suddenly finding a bloody or watery stool is very alarming. If it is combined with vomiting there could be something more serious going on too. If you are skilled in taking your pet’s temperature, this is good place to start. The more information you can provide to your Vet Tech or office staff the better!

Your dog’s temperature should be between 100.5 degrees to 102.5 degrees (Fahrenheit). It is good to have a baseline temperature recorded. Some dogs will run cooler than others. If your temp is above 103.5 and rising then you need to call the Veterinary office and talk to someone. Temperature is always important!

A bloody stool can be an indication of many different problems.  Some are very serious and other far less life threatening. Some bloody stools happen from nothing more than stress, while other could be from a punctured intestine. With so many things involved, this is the time to consult a professional. Depending upon your relationship with your Veterinary, you may be able to drop a stool sample initially. That information can save repeated visits with an ailing pet.

To get a stool sample, take a small baggie and invert it. Then grab a good sample of the worst looking part of the stool. Invert again and seal the baggie. We always double bag. This sample will not be viable for any length of time and should be kept cool (not frozen). The sooner your Vet Tech gets the sample the better. Time is of the essence as they say. Once the report is back then you will have some kind of idea if there is a parasite present.

If nothing shows in the stool sample your Vet may want to do an X-ray to ensure there is not a blockage or some other problem.


Take note of anything they might have eaten include fruit pits, sharp objects, plastic, etc. Think about where you have been. Dog parks, pet rest areas, public locations where exposure to parasites is common. These tidbits of information can help determine if it indeed might be Giardia or some other problem.

In bringing the topic of Giardia to you, we first wrote from our heart and then our experience. This is a topic we knew little of a decade ago but now consider a concern. It is a concern to us because we have had first-hand experience with Giardia (on a very few occasions) and it can affect our Weimaraners health. Anything that affects the health of our beloved Weims is important.

In studying about Giardia we had already learned that information and opinions are varied. Some sources provide basic facts and others provide detailed scientific information. Some information is even geared towards breeders. A breeder who might need the detailed information to prevent or control an Giardia outbreak. Regardless of  your status (pet owner, Weimlover, potential dog owner, etc) we think you find the published materials more than sufficient.

We do caution you not to try to diagnose Giardia from the description. As you will learn in reading these various links the diagnosis is tricky even for the trained professional with all the kinds of resources. Here are those great links…….

  • http://www.cdc.gov/HealthySwimming/giardiafacts.htm

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giardia_lamblia

  • http://www.cdc.gov/Ncidod/dpd/parasites/giardiasis/factsht_giardia.htm

  • http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2102&aid=739

  • http://www.beaglesunlimited.com/beaglehealth_giardiasis.htm

  • http://ezinearticles.com/?Symptoms-of-Giardia-in-Dogs-(Giardiasis-in-Dogs)&id=2524242

  • Note: If you are part of the extended OwyheeStar family or on our waiting list, then please feel free to share your questions, comments, pointers, insights, experiences, and valued tips. Please keep in mind that all of our information is based from our experience and is our personal opinion.  Information found within this blog and on our website is not meant to replace that of your personal Veterinary. We are not licensed Veterinarians or licensed Vet Techs. We do not give treatment advice, diagnose illness, or consider ourselves the final authority on Veterinary medicine.

    About OwyheeStar

    We are Professional Weimaraner breeders–with forty years experience at raising puppies. For many years, we have focused exclusively on the Weimaraner! If you are considering the Weimaraner, or live with one, we welcome you to sign up to our blog. We sincerely hope you will find the information, the stories, and varied posts insightful (as well as entertaining). To those who live with an OwyheeStar Weimaraner, we send special thanks. We appreciate the photos, the news, and your friendship. Thank you for being a part of the extended OwyheeStar family.

    Posted on June 26, 2009, in Health and Wellness. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.

      Comments are closed.