Currently in pharmacy school we are covering gastrointestinal drugs/diseases/treatment and one that really struck home with me was the parasite and condition known as Giardia. The reason this sparked interest in me was because I remember a few years ago my dog had giardia and it cost me a fortune. This compelled me to do some more research on giardia in humans and animals and I found some pretty cool information that I’d like to share, I didn’t realize it but giardia in dogs is actually quite common.
Dogs have a high infection rate of giardia, especially puppies where approximately 30% of dogs contract giardia. Giardia is a parasite that lives in the small intestine and is acquired in both humans and dogs from untreated ingested sewage water, food and/or soil. In the case of dogs this is usually from contaminated items and surfaces that have been tainted by the feces of an infected animal. It is possible for giardia in dogs to be passed to their owners and other humans.
Symptoms of giardia are similar in humans and dogs but for the sake of this article I am referring to dogs and the symptoms include diarrhea, excess flatulence, loose greasy stools and vomiting. This is often accompanied by weight loss and dehydration resulting in nutrition loss, and a fatigued malnourished looking dog. This is how I discovered something was wrong with my dog. Often times symptoms do not appear until 1 to 2 weeks after infection.
If you’re like me, than the first thing you do when you know your dog is sick is call the vet. Unfortunately it’s hard to know when you really need a vet and when you don’t. We love our animals and it’s hard to see them sick so usually going to the vet is the right call, but I wish I hadn’t when Zeus had giardia. The vet charged me a couple hundred dollars to tell me Zeus had giardia and sent me home with some natural supplements to help cure the poor guy of the parasite.
In humans the first line of defense is a drug called metronidazole (flagyl). This stuff is dispensed like candy at the hospital I work at but it’s not entirely safe and is a bit controversial. Many vets have prescribed this drug for animals with giardia. Some of the side effects of metronidazole are nausea/vomiting, headache, metallic taste and neutropenia. Most importantly though is that metronidazole is mutagenic in bacteria and is carcinogenic in mice. Do not let your vet suggest metronidazole for your pet, it causes cancer in mice and other mammals.
Thankfully my vet sent me home with a natural supplement that worked fantastic for good old Zeus. I found the bottle in the garage in case I ever needed it again. The product is Parasite Dr. by Native Remedies and can be found on their website here. It’s a combination of natural herbs and probiotics designed to promote a healthy digestive tract and destroy parasites including worms. I never realized until now that this stuff was available online and for a lot cheaper than what the vet charged me. Grrrrrr. I must say after further review that the company that makes it (Pet Alive, Native Remedies) has a pretty impressive lineup of human and pet supplements for all kinds of conditions and ailments.
The point I try to stress with every article I write is that there are natural, alternative,better and cheaper ways out there to treat common conditions. Giardia in dogs is a great example of this as it’s such a common ailment in dogs and I personally could have saved a couple hundred bucks when Zeus had giardia had I been armed with this information. I hope this article has helped someone save some money and saved a pet from being ill and dangerous traditional treatment. As always feel free to leave your comments below. Best of heatlh.