Friday, July 3, 2009

Giardia--Diarrhea, Caring for A Dog with Giardia and Preventing Reinfection

Sydney, the rescue dog, is making tremendous progress. She was rescued from South Central Shelter and weighed under 40 lbs. Her normal weight should be 55 lbs. She was completely infested with parasites (including Giardia) and worms which were eating all of her food. She was eating huge amounts of food but no weight gain and constant diarrhea. It is now over 3 weeks since she has been rescued and while we have made terrific progress, we still have a long way to go. Sydney had a bad case of kennel cough, skin infections, vaginal infections, parasites, worms and was emaciated. She has gained weight and today we received notification that she is now free of all parasites and worms!!!! This is cause for celebration but was no easy task. And, there is a high likelihood of reoccurence so it is important that I explain all that needs to be done to prevent reoccurence.

Giardia is not just found in rescue dogs.....Many of our clients who have purchased their dogs from the very best breeders have dogs that have been effected. I have treated MANY Yorkies and Maltese for example, that have had repeat infestations. Follow up care using diet and special supplements such as Power Probiotic and Colostrum for Pets will greatly help.

Giardia is very common and can easily be transmitted to humans, particularly children. It is not unusual to hear of entire schools being effected. Giardia is a protozoal infection of the intestines that is transmitted by water or fecal ingestion. Giardia causes intermittent diarrhea and/or vomiting  However, SOME PETS MAY HAVE NO SYMPTOMS!!!!! It is very important to get your dog a fecal smear annually to doublecheck. I know the doggie day care where I take Bleu has always required it. Why? Because it spreads like wildfire and is very, very difficult to control.

I am happy to report that because of tremendous effort, Sydney is now free of Giardia, although one follow up precautionary treatment for both the worms and the parasites is still due. One rule of thumb when it comes to parasites: Cleanliness is next to Godliness! Do not just rely on the medication from your veterinarian. You must actively treat the dog's environment to ensure that you not only rid your pet of parasites but that they do not reoccur.

1) Wash your pet and your pet's bedding several times during the first 2 weeks of the treatment period. Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe Flagyl + Panacur. Even though the Panacur is only for a few days, the Flagyl most likely will be for 7-10 days.

2) Use a baby wipe or wet paper towel and gloves to wipe your dog's rear end after your dog defecates.

3) Keep your dog separated in an isolated area. I know this is a very big challenge for people with multiple pets. You may want to ask your veterinarian about proactively treating other pets although the medications can be harsh and cause other problems. However, this parasite is so contagious, you have to think about what is good for you and your family and your other pets in the long run. Be sure your infected pet only urinates and defecates in an isolated area away from where other pets may go. My recommendation would be to have them go in a garage or side area so that you can easily pick up the stool.

4) ALWAYS wear gloves when picking up stool infested with giardia or parasites/worms and then throw the baggie into another baggie with a tie on top. Immediately pick up the stool if possible. Giardia can set into the ground, worms can can into the soil.....I just cannot say enough about how clean you need to be!

5) After you clean up the area, please use Bleach or a cleaning product containing bleach. I went through 24 rolls of paper towels in a 10 day period and several bottles of cleanser. I washed my shoes after walking on the infected area as cleaning up diarrhea is not easy and it is easy to step on it (ick!).

6) Keep children, workmen, pets and housekeepers away from the trash. I put a big note on my trash barrel making sure the gardener knew to use an alternate bin.

Additionally, it is important to know that pets affected with giardia will need a great deal of after-care. Many pets can develop inflammatory bowel disease because the inflammation in the bowel has not been addressed. Read more about IBD in dogs and how to treat it.