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Puppy Has Persistent Giardia That Won't Go Away

Puppy with Persistent Giardia

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Giardia is a protozoan that can cause annoying infections in puppies and dogs with symptoms such as diarrhea, blood and mucous in the stool, and vomiting, it's therefore annoying dealing with a puppy with persistent giardia that won't go away. If your pup was diagnosed with persistent giardia, it's important to take several steps to eradicate this one-celled organism that can wreck havoc to young puppies' bodies causing damage to their intestinal lining and preventing them from properly absorbing nutrients.

A Word About Tests


If your puppy has persistent giardia, most likely your vet has tested him again and still saw signs of the presence of the protozoan. It's important though asking the vet exactly what test is being done for this re-check. Is the vet seeing actual "cysts" in the feces or is the pup positive because the giardia ELISA test was positive?

According to veterinarian Dr. Andy, this is an important question as many vets forget about an important detail: Despite being successfully treated for giardia, the test results for the giardia ELISA part of the test remain positive for weeks or even longer.

However, if the vet sees actual "cysts" and the pup is showing clinical signs of giardiasis, then chances are, the puppy or dog is really infected.

"The giardia elisa is a snap test that will remain positive after treatment... I spoke with the lab that manufactures the test and learned that the test can stay positive for an indefinite period of time after treatment and it does not correlate to actual infection with Giardia once there are no giardia spores or anything on the microscopic exam." ~Dr Christine M.

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A Matter of Disinfection

Giardia is an annoying protozoan because it tends to live for long and can be difficult to eradicate if no steps are taken. To eradicate giardia populations, it's very important to remove all feces immediately and disinfect all water bowls and food bowls using a diluted bleach solution. Grass and all yard areas need to be disinfected as well and surfaces need cleaned with disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium. Steam cleaning can be effective for floors and walls

If you fail to disinfect everything, there are chances your puppy will keep on re-infecting himself. Puppies should also be kept away from streams, ponds and generally any areas of standing water.

Also, consider that there may be traces of feces on the dog's coat, skin, or paws, and when the dog licks these areas, he may ingest them and get repeatedly re-infected, explains veterinarian Dr. Drew.  It's not a bad idea to bathe the dog at the end of the 5 days of treatment.

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A Word About Treatment

You may assume that since you are treating your puppy with medications from your vet (the most common ones are flagyl (metronidazole) and Panacur (fenbendazole), the issue will solve once for all. But it's not always that easy with a protozoan like giardia that is difficult to eradicate from a dog's environment. Sometimes dogs may require repeated treatments if the infection won't clear up the first time around.

On top of medications, dogs may benefit from being fed a high-fiber diet such as Hill's w/d or the addition of fiber to the dog's diet under the form of metamucil or canned pumpkin, suggests veterinarian Dr. Dave. Also, probiotics can be helpful in restoring gut bacteria.

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