Do you think Your Dog’s Kiss is Harmless? Think Again, You Might Get Giardia

can i get giardia from my dog licking me?

Treating an infected or sick dog can be very exhausting. It might require you to always visit your vet for medication and also do a series of other things.

You might also have to always keep your dog’s crate clean just to ensure sanity in his environment.

You might even have to incorporate new nutritional foods in his diet just to ensure a quick recovery and good health.

However, you’ve heard a lot of dog owners complaining about Giardia and how it can also be contracted by Dog owners. But you don’t want your dog to get infected by this protozoan. How do you go about it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is possible to contract Giardia from contact with infected animals, including dogs. However, the risk of getting Giardia from a dog licking you is considered to be low. The CDC recommends practicing good hygiene and washing your hands regularly, especially after contact with animals or their environment, to reduce the risk of infection.

In this article, I will reveal to you what Giardia is, how your dog can contact it, and also whether yes or no you can get Giardia from your dog.

Without further ado, let’s proceed!

What is Giardia?

Giardia is a microscopic protozoan parasite usually found in the intestine of animals and it also causes a series of mild illnesses in them especially gastrointestinal-related illnesses.

Judging from the microscopic view, Giardia in its matured stage looks like a tiny octopi organism. It has a head region with a lot of flagella used for movement.

Giardia is usually found in the intestine of animals and they are usually passed out of the animal with feces (poop) as a cyst.

The cysts are very resilient and they can thrive and survive the weather condition of any environment they find themselves.

This means that Giardia is usually transmitted through the fecal-oral route. i.e. The infected animal passes out the cyst after excretion and another animal will get infected after coming in contact with the feces passed out of the infected animal.

How do dogs contract Giardia?

A sick dog laying on the floor

This parasite is not uncommon in our environment and your dog can easily get them through various ways.

Here are some of the ways dogs can get Giardia:

  • When they drink contaminated water that contains cysts
  • When they eat or ingest contaminated food that contains cysts.
  • When they play in contaminated soil
  • When they get in contact with infected poop from other dogs
  • When your dog sniffs an infected dog’s butt

What are the symptoms of Giardia in Dogs?

Giardia affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and you can easily detect this health issue in your dog because the outward signs are easily noticeable.

Here are some of the symptoms that indicate giardia in dogs:

  • Diarrhea (most common)
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive gas
  • Greasy stools
  • Nausea
  • Poor coat condition
  • Stomach cramping
  • Vomiting (in dogs, but rare in humans)
  • Weight loss (if left untreated)

If Giardia in dogs is left untreated, it can lead to severe gastric inflammation, chronic diarrhea, and weight loss usually caused by incessant lack of appetite and malabsorption.

Can I get Giardia from my dog licking me? How Giardia is transmitted to man

A dog licking its owner

Yes, Giardia is zoonotic. This means your furry friend can get you infected.

You will be infected if you come in contact with your infected dog’s poop. While this might look impossible, it is still very possible.

Let us discuss some of the ways Giardia can be transmitted from your dog to you

  • Contact with infected dog feces: Giardia is shed in the feces of infected dogs, and can survive in the environment for weeks to months, especially in moist and cool conditions. If you come into contact with infected dog feces and then touch your mouth or face without washing your hands, you could potentially ingest Giardia cysts and become infected.
  • Contaminated water: Giardia cysts can survive in water for long periods, and can be ingested by humans who drink or swim in contaminated water sources such as streams, lakes, or ponds. Dogs can also become infected by drinking contaminated water, which can then lead to them shedding Giardia cysts in their feces.
  • Contact with contaminated objects: It is possible to become infected with Giardia by coming into contact with contaminated objects that have been in contact with infected dog feces. This could include items such as toys, food bowls, or bedding.
  • Close contact with infected dogs: While it is not common, Giardia can be transmitted from infected dogs to humans through close contact such as kissing or licking. If your infected dog licks his butt and further proceeds to lick your face, Giardia might find its way into your mouth and with this, you will become infected.

However, you can reduce the risk of being infected by practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling dogs or their feces and avoiding contact with contaminated environments or objects.

How to treat Giardia in Dogs?

Fortunately, Giardia can easily be treated with just a few medications.

Here are the two medications usually used to treat Giardia:

These two medications have been used for decades to treat roundworms and protozoan-related health issues.

Your vet might also prescribe some drugs to cure nausea and diarrhea and IV fluids might even be recommended for an infected dog that has been dehydrated.

Normally, it takes only a few weeks for your dog to be completely free from giardia. However, it might take more weeks for dogs suffering from other health issues to be free from giardia.

Excessive old dogs and also excessive young dogs might not be easily free from this health issue also due to weakness of their immune system.

How is Giardia Diagnosed in Dogs?

To diagnose Giardia in dogs, technicians will collect their fecal samples and test them. The presence of a cyst in the dog’s stool indicates that the dog is infected with Giardia.

Prevention Tips for your Dog

Giardia might not be deadly but it will surely put your canine in an uncomfortable situation which is something you should avoid as a good pet owner.

To prevent your dog from getting giardia, here are some of the tips you should follow:

  • Keep your dog away from areas that may be contaminated with feces, such as public parks or dog runs.
  • Make sure your dog’s drinking water is clean and safe. Giardia can survive in water for several months, so it’s important to avoid stagnant water sources or standing puddles.
  • Clean up after your dog immediately and dispose of feces properly. Giardia can live in feces for several weeks, so leaving it on the ground can increase the risk of infection.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your dog, especially if you have come into contact with their feces.
  • Consider using a preventative medication prescribed by your veterinarian. There are several medications available that can help prevent Giardia infection in dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Giardia affect only Dogs?

No, Giardia does not affect only dogs, it affects cats and even other animals such as rabbits, ducks, squirrels, etc. It can even be transmitted from your dog to you. However, this is very uncommon.

Is Giardia Deadly?

No, Giardia is not a deadly illness and you should not panic when you notice symptoms of giardia in your dog. All you have to do is to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis and medication.

Within a few weeks, your dog should be free from giardia.


Giardia is a type of single-celled parasite that can infect the intestines of many animals, including dogs and humans. It is usually transmitted through the fecal-oral route.

It affects the gastrointestinal tract of animals and its symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, etc.

Giardia can easily be treated using Fenbendazole (Panacur) and Metronidazole (Flagyl). These two medications are known to be solely used to treat roundworms and protozoan-related health issues.

And to the question, can I get giardia from my dog licking me? Yes, you can but only if your dog has been infected.

In summary, here are the 6 things to know about Giardia:

  • Giardia is a parasite.
  • Giardia is a communicable disease.
  • Giardia affects the Gastrointestinal tract of animals.
  • Giardia can only be treated with medications.
  • Giardia is not fatal but needs to be treated when detected.
  • Giardia does not affect only dogs, it affects other animals and even men.



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