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Giardia

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Cedar Ridge Beagles
c/o Toni Perdew
info@grullablue.com
(the best method to reach me is via e-mail)
Bedford, Iowa
Click here for additional contact information.

Our premises are monitored via video surveillance for your puppy's safety!

 

Liability Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian, and do not wish for you to use this information to diagnose a problem. Instead, it is offered as "food for thought" for responsible and educated dog owners.

Pronunciation: (jee ahr' dee uh)

What is it?:  Giardia is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestine of affected animals. Infection can occur from contact with the environment (streams, ponds, mud puddles, or stools on the ground) or with other animals carrying the protozoa.

Therefore, any environmental water or any place that other dogs, cats, squirrels, etc. could have walked or left stools is a potential contamination source! It is estimated that as many as 70% of all dogs/puppies in the US have the protozoa in their systems, though relatively few ever develop signs. Not all animals with giardia show signs of carrying it.

Recent research has shown that Giardia is present in
up to 11% of the general population of pets,
and as many as 50% of all puppies.

What are the Symptoms?  Clinical signs of giardia include weight loss, inability to gain weight at a proper rate during growth stages, diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite and greasy appearing stools that are often light in color.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: We deworm most of our puppies after weaning for 5+ days with fenbendazole (Safe-Guard's medicine). This not only controls common worms, but also treats giardia infections as a side benefit. Then, just prior to your puppy leaving us, we give an anti-protozoal to boost the puppy's protection.

You could consider deworming your puppy with a fenbendazole dewormer such as Safe-Guard after your puppy arrives...especially if you feel the puppy has soft stools. If this doesn't help, stress or coccidia might be causing the soft stools. Stress symptoms should pass after a few days, though we have found that a couple days of Pepto-Bismol (1/2 cc a couple times each day) helps as well. Coccidia can be overcome on its own, but we prefer to treat with medicines (very inexpensive....visit our Coccidia page for more info).

Don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian if your puppy has full blown diarrhea, bloody stools, or is losing weight.

Common Treatments: The most commonly used medication for giardia infection is metronidazole (Flagyl) and/or fenbendazole (Panacur or Safe-Guard dewormer for 5 to 10 days in a row). But, the following are often chosen from as methods of treatment: Metronidazole (Flagyl), Furazolidone (Neftin), Tinadazole, Fenbendazole (Panacur or Safe-Guard), and Albendazole (Valbanzen).

The fenbendazole (Panacur) is a liquid, and we would squirt it to the roof of the mouth with a small syringe (no needle!) or eye dropper. The Metronidazole (Flagyl) is a pill, which we would split, crush, and then mix with water or tuna juice or orange juice. Again, then we would squirt it to the roof of the mouth with a syringe (no needle on the syringe) or eye dropper.

Cost of treatment from our vet: We can get fenbendazole (Panacur, liquid form) for about 12₵ (yes, that is cents) per cc. For a 10-lb puppy, we'd give  We get metronidazole (Flagyl) pills for 17₵ each, 250 mg (one pill would last for 2 days). Our vet would recommend 7 days of both medicines at the same time.  Here is a cost estimate I worked up. I increased the actual cost, because we live in a rural area in a part of the US with a lower-than-average economy. But hopefully, it would be similar to the cost from your vet.

Not very expensive, thankfully. Wouldn't it be nice if human medicines were this cheap?  :-)

Also, we have to keep in mind that different veterinarians mark up their medicines differently. We've seen vets in cities (Pasadena, Boston) mark up and give dog wormer at 35,625% (you read that right...over 35 THOUSAND percent!) over our own cost. And remember, your vet gets it cheaper than I do.

But wait...THERE'S MORE!

Flagyl pills (above) are identical to the pills you can buy at Wal-Mart or pet supply stores for fish tanks, called FISH ZOLE. We get generic Flagyl for about 17 cents per pill from our veterinarian, but have heard of vets charging as much as $10 per pill. If our vet was charging ridiculous prices, we'd sure check out getting FISH ZOLE, which is identical at this time, instead of lining our vet's pockets! For a 25-lb dog, one 250 mg pill can be given daily for 5 to 7 days. A 10-lb puppy could get one half of one pill.

http://www.beaglesunlimited.com/beaglehealth_giardiasis.htm tells more about FISH ZOLE treatment for giardia.

Since re-contamination can occur from an activity as simple as taking your dog for a walk through a park, it is possible that treatment might have to be given more than once over the lifetime of the dog. There is a vaccination available, though it's efficiency is in question. Ask your vet if you feel you live in an area where giardia infection may be a problem (especially prevalent in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or near lakes/streams or in moist climate).

Giardia is not the cause of diarrhea all the time, though.

Some of the many causes of diarrhea include:

  • Giardia

  • Coccidia

  • Digestive Upset, general (stress induced, dietary, etc.)

  • Worms

  • Trichomonas

  • Parvo (very serious, potentially lethal)

Non-Medicinal Treatments for Diarrhea:

If your puppy has liquid/water consistency to stools, and not solid or pudding type stools, it's time to contact a vet. Liquid stools are a sign of bad diarrhea, and could lead very quickly to dehydration. Dehydration can lead to death. So, totally liquid stools are not to be taken lightly. See or contact a vet.

But for "soft" stools, there "usually" is not a danger to the puppy requiring a vet trip. If you had soft stools, would you go to the doctor? If a puppy has "soft" stools, with a consistency like pudding, as long as the puppy is drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, the concern is much, much less.

Remember, I am not a vet and don't recommend anything. These are just things we've tried or heard of. These ideas might not fix the problem if the cause is a protozoa, but they can help control diarrhea in general:

  • Plain or vanilla yogurt (with cultures). Can mix with a little cottage cheese.
  • Buttermilk (with active cultures).
  • Pepto Bismol (2 to 4 times daily for a couple days, 1 cc to 3 cc's each time, depending upon puppy's size...I have heard 1 tsp per 10 lbs is also a common dosage). Or, crush a Pepto (or generic equivalent) tablet and mix with canned dog food. Along with this, you can offer Pedialyte to help prevent dehydration.
  • Herbs for diarrhea (we've never used these, but an example is here).
  • Fasting. For early diarrhea signs, you might withhold solid food for a day. For small puppies, do NOT withhold water. In fact, for small puppies, I don't recommend fasting. But for a 6 month old puppy, it can help to withhold food for a day, and then just offer the bland food in the next bulleted item.
  • Bland diet: rice flavored by boiled chicken for two days (bland foods). Boil rice with a chicken breast for 20 mins (1 c rice, 2 c water, 1 chicken breast). Feed only the rice for two days. On day three, offer some of the chicken breast.  If diarrhea goes away, slowly return to regular dog food.
  • Canned pumpkin
  • New treatment I will be looking into in order to include it here...at this time, I have only heard of it, but have not tried it: Platinum Biosponge

 

 

 

 

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Cedar Ridge Beagles
c/o Toni Perdew
info@grullablue.com
(the best method to reach me is via e-mail)
Bedford, Iowa
Click here for additional contact information.

Our premises are monitored via video surveillance for your puppy's safety!

 

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