Giardia is a single-celled parasite of the intestines. This microscopic organism can infect dogs, people, other mammals, and birds. About 15% of dogs in the United States have Giardia in their gastrointestinal system, so it’s a fairly common disease.
When dogs have a Giardia infection, known as giardiasis, they develop diarrhea because the parasite interferes with the gut’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. Thus, the stool contains extra liquid.
What are the clinical signs of Giardia (Giardiasis) in dogs?
In some dogs, Giardiasis infection is asymptomatic, or subclinical. When your dog shows a clinical Giardia infection, you may notice:
- Copious watery diarrhea or greasy, fatty stools
- Passing several stools a day
- Foul smelling gas
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of energy
- Weight loss
Color & Appearance of Giardia Poop (With Pictures)
Click on the links in the summary below to view pictures:
|Color/Appearance||What it likely means||What you should do|
|Normal||Healthy dog or subclinical Giardia||Bring a fecal sample to the vet for testing|
|Soft, like melted ice cream||Stress reaction, irritated intestine, or Giardia||Contact vet for an exam, bring a fecal sample|
|Watery, brown or yellow||Intestinal parasite, bacterial or viral infection, Giardiasis, toxic reaction, pancreatitis||Contact vet immediately|
|Greasy||Intestinal inflammation, pancreatitis, poor fat digestion, Giardiasis||Contact the vet if the greasy stool persists for more than a few days, if you see blood, or if your dog is also vomiting|
|Green||Giardiasis, allergic reaction, eating grass, or rat poisoning||If you see persistent green stool, or if your dog is also vomiting, contact your vet immediately|
Dogs with Giardia can have poop that ranges in appearance. With subclinical infections, the stool may look completely normal. Otherwise, it can be soft like melted ice cream, extremely watery, greasy, or have a greenish color.
Naturally, each poop variation listed above can also occur with other diseases or conditions. So, whenever you have unexplained diarrhea, bring a sample to your vet for diagnostic testing.
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Option 1: Giardia Poop Has a brown & normal appearance
Brown, firm poop that looks normal usually means your dog is healthy. However, sometimes a pooch can have normal-looking poop and still have a subclinical infection. If you suspect Giardiasis in your dog, have their feces tested.
Option 2: Giardia poop has a soft (like melted ice cream) appearance
When your dog’s poop looks like a pile of melted ice cream, it can mean your pup is stressed but otherwise healthy. It can also point to an irritated intestine. A soft stool occurs when the colon isn’t absorbing enough water from undigested food.
Option 3: Giardia poop becomes a watery stool
Watery diarrhea in dogs can point to a serious condition. When you see runny poop, it may mean your pup has:
- An intestinal parasite like roundworms
- A bacterial infection like Salmonella
- A viral infection like parvo
- A toxic reaction
When your dog has a watery stool, the condition can quickly become life-threatening due to fluid loss. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Option 4: Giardia poop looks like a greasy stool
When your dog’s stool looks greasy, it can mean there’s a problem with the pancreas or with fat digestion. It’s also commonly seen in dogs infected with Giardia.
Option 5: Giardia poop looks green
A green stool can be caused by different things:
- Eating too much grass
- An allergic reaction
- A Giardia infection
If your dog has a green stool and you suspect they may have eaten rat poison, call your veterinarian immediately. This is a life-threatening emergency.
The only way to confirm Giardia is a fecal test. The appearance alone of your dog’s poop will not give you enough information and confidence that your dog still has giardia. If your pooch has unresolved diarrhea, take them to the vet.
At the exam, your dog’s doctor will get a history of their behavior and symptoms. Depending on the poop and history, they may run other diagnostic tests, including:
- Parvovirus test
- Blood test for toxins
- Fecal exam for parasites
Sometimes, your veterinarian will see Giardia cysts in a routine fecal flotation, but they’re not always present. Repeated tests may be needed for a diagnosis.
If other conditions are ruled out, the clinic may also run a specialized analysis of the poop to detect Giardia-specific proteins from the parasite’s cell wall.
How do dogs get Giardia (Giardiasis)?
Infected people and animals pass Giardia cysts in their feces, and dogs become infected by ingesting the cysts. Your dog can pick up giardiasis by:
- Coming in direct contact with infected poop
- Walking through, rolling, or playing in a contaminated area, then licking their fur or paws
- Sniffing an infected dog’s hind end and then licking their nose
- Drinking water that was contaminated by infected poop
- Killing contaminated rodents or other prey
- Traveling in a contaminated animal crate
Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.