wellbeing, healing and disease prevention

Curing Giardia in dogs naturally

Either you have a dog with giardia who has been through the conventional treatments and are at your wits end and want to scream - or you simply prefer natural methods over drugs then, this fact sheet is for you. Download a free copy of our Giardia fact sheet here.

What is Giardiasis?

It’s simply the term your vet uses to say your dog has been infected with Giardia. Doesn’t matter whether you call it Giardia Lambia or Giardia duodenalis. Same critter.

In case you’re unfamiliar with giardia, it’s a parasite, a one celled protozoa you cannot see because it is so miniscule. That means it feeds off other living organisms (like dogs) to survive. It reproduces by splitting – so it only takes one to get things rolling. That means no wait time for laying eggs or hatching or even growing up. One adult makes two; so rather quickly. If you’d try to do the math you end up with literally thousands and thousands in a pretty short time.

Giardia does have two stages. Both are adult, but some form a ‘shell’ of protection and are passed out of the body to wait and infect someone else later. These are called cysts.

Once inside your dog, giardia calls your pet’s intestines home, and the environment allows them to break out of their shell so they get to the intestines and attach themselves there to feed and split and split and split. This in turn creates an infection and leads to weakening of your dog’s small intestine. It starts to have trouble absorbing water, electrolytes, and nutrients. This can cause malabsorptive diarrhoea, leading to difficulty in gaining weight or keeping it on.

Your vet may want to prescribe medication for treatment, that call is up to you. Just remember, drugs can cause avoidable and unnecessary side effects

Giardia has two forms: 

  • A trophozoite that lives in the gut of infected animals.
  • A cystic stage that’s shed in faeces.

The cyst form can survive several months in the environment, especially in water or damp conditions. If your dog swallows the cyst, it enters his intestines. Once there, it transforms to the trophozoite form and feeds from your dog’s intestinal wall. 

Some trophozoites transform into the cystic form. After about 5 to 12 days, your dog may pass infectious cysts in his stool.

There are several reasons why dogs are so susceptible. Your dog could pick up giardia from any of the following: 

  • Contacting the infected stool of another animal
  • Rolling or playing in contaminated soil
  • Licking himself after contacting a contaminated surface, like a kennel
  • Drinking contaminated water

Signs and symptoms your dog potentially has giardia:

Giardia isn’t an easy parasite to detect, so it can live unnoticed inside your dog for a while. If you suspect your dog has giardia, there are signs you can watch for. Keep an eye on your dog’s stool for these symptoms:

  • Unusually soft
  • Oddly or poorly formed
  • Pale-coloured or greenish
  • Extra-foul smelling
  • Contains mucus
  • Appears fatty
  • Blood in stool

and perhaps even vomiting and fatigue, then the little devils have been doing what they do best.

Damaging the gut which is where most of the immune system is, along with the digestive tract. Your dog cannot have proper digestion and be able to use food when it's all going straight through in as a soggy wet mess.

What to do to get tested: If your think your dog might have giardia, contact your holistic vet. You can bring a stool sample to get tested.

Collect a sample using the following four-step process recommended by canine herbalist Rita Hogan.

  1. You’ll need a fresh stool sample, nothing older than a day. So first, bring your dog outside and let him take care of his business.
  2. The sample doesn’t have to be big. Collect one that’s the size of about 2 or 3 sugar cubes. Use a poop bag to collect a pinch.
  3. For storage, place it in an old pill bottle that has been prewashed. If you don’t have this, any small plastic container will do.
  4. Label the container with your dog’s name along with your last name. This prevents any confusion at your vet’s office. 
  1. If you can’t give your vet the sample right away, store it in your fridge, not freezer.
Why it’s NOT recommended to treat Giardia in dogs with medication

There are three drug’s vets commonly prescribe to get rid of giardia. 

Sometimes they may even prescribe a combination of two of these medications.

But none of these three drugs is FDA-approved for animals. They can also can create a mixed bag of side effects. All these drugs often cause diarrhea and vomiting, and they may have other side effects, such as:

  • Fenbendazole: facial swelling, hives, and excess salivation.
  • Metronidazole: blood in urine, muscle stiffness, and dilated pupils, neurological issues.
  • Albendazole: low energy, lower white blood cell production, and convulsions.

Here is the thing: Giardia can take a while to get rid of. And these drugs also carry long-term risks.

  • Albendazole can cause bone marrow suppression.
  • Metronidazole can cause gastrointestinal illnesses and allergies. 
  • Albendazole and fenbendazole can exacerbate liver problems 

And like most conventional “anti-” medications, these drugs can wreak havoc with your dog’s gut health. Because 80% of your dog’s immune system lives in the gut, that means it can make him more susceptible to illness in the future.

But the good news is, there are natural ways to get rid of giardia in your dog.

Now that you know the risks involved with medications, let’s talk about alternatives. Use specific, non-toxic herbs etc that work to slowly kill the protozoa; stop and prevent secondary infection; heal those intestinal walls as well as a reseeding the gut while addressing the diarrhoea.

Here are the top 10 natural remedies:

  • Black Walnut(natural anti-parasitic), Echinacea and Goldenseal are both (antimicrobial and infection fighting herbs) see Dishy Dogs Giardia Pet a ready-made formula to assist in eliminating the bug and supporting healing.
  • Liver Support (Dishy Dogs Liver Tonic) - Helps with those 500 daily liver functions and reduces toxins.
  • Colostrum (Dishy Dogs Colostrum Pet) - Super nutrition to get health back on track
  • Probiotics with Bacillus Coagulans (Dishy Dogs Probiotic Pet is chock full of Bacillus Coagulans) - Resets the intestinal microbes. Regular probiotics cause diarrhoea in a sick dog, these curb diarrhoea
  • Liquid Silver Shield - a non-drug patented product. Works as an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic but only gets the bad guys.
  • Intestinal Soothe and Build - Soothes the damaged intestinal wall and encourages new cell growth for faster recovery.
  • Oregon Grape - an effective natural antibiotic and liver tonic that can attack parasites.
  • Cloves - work well against parasites like giardia. The oil in cloves is the key to their effectiveness. One study found that essential oil of cloves can inhibit the growth of parasites. It also stated the essential oil can kill almost 50% of parasites in a “time-dependent manner.”
Clove dosage for dogs: Give one clove per 4.5kg of body weight once every day. Or, mix a small pinch of clove powder into your dog’s food.
  • Garlic – is a safe option to help boost your dog’s immune system. Allicin, one of the compounds in garlic, is effective against parasites

You can release it by letting garlic sit for 15 minutes after peeling and chopping. Caution: Avoid feeding garlic to your dog if it is taking cyclosporine or blood thinners.

Garlic dosage for dogs:

  • Small dogs: up to ¼ clove, twice a day
  • Medium dogs: ½ clove, twice a day
  • Large dogs: up to ¾ clove twice a day
  • Giant breeds: up to 1 clove twice a day
  • Pumpkin Seeds - have long been used as a traditional remedy for intestinal parasites — especially tapeworms. Studies showed the seeds from the pumpkin species Cucurbita maxima D killed 100% in 48 hours, pumpkin seeds of the variety Lagenaria siceraria killed 100% in 72 hours and seeds from Cucurbita pepo L killed 85% in 96 hours. They compared these with Metronidazole (conventional drug) which killed 100% in 96 hours.

Results showed that pumpkin seeds were 85% and 100% effective at eliminating giardia depending on the species of pumpkins used.

The reaction is believed to be caused by an amino acid in the seeds called cucurbitacin. This compound effectively paralyses the leeching worms — making them lose their grip on your insides. About 60 to 130g per day is your aim. Grind them down in a coffee grinder and sprinkle them on your pet’s food ½ int the morning and ½ at night. 

Tips to prevent Giardia in dogs: Being proactive can keep your dog healthy It’s better to prevent your dog from getting giardia in the first place!

One of the most important things you can do is keep your dog’s environment clean. Faecal parasites like giardia are invisible to the naked eye. So, keep your dog’s kennel, food and water bowls, and his favourite toys clean.  Be sure to pick up poop in your backyard regularly. 

As mentioned earlier, contaminated water is often a major source of giardia. Make sure your dog only drinks water from a clean source. Limit your dog’s access to creeks or lakes (it is easier said than done as most dog’s love drinking out of the filthiest puddles and ponds they can find.)

Keep in mind: Giardia isn’t easy to treat, and if you are using conventional medication, it isn’t always cleared by the first round. It’s tough to get rid of whether you use conventional meds or natural remedies. But with the right solutions, you can successfully get rid of your dog’s giardia.

Dishy Dogs is certified “Australian Made and Owned”. Our ingredients are of the highest quality and are 100% human grade, preservative free with no added salt, sugar, flavour or colour.