Giardia is one of the most profane words that can be uttered in my dog mom group.
Well, picture this.
You made it past the 16 week mark. Your little bundle of joy FINALLY has all his shots and can be released into the outside world. You decide to meet up at a local dog park with some new friends you met on Instagram and have the best day of your life watching your little punkin hop around, run amuck, and torment the other pups with his needle fangs.
The next day, your sweet little babe begs to go potty and uncontrollably spews poo all over your backyard, squatting tirelessly every few seconds before being forced to come back inside.
You get inside and it begins again with a vengeance. Your pup erupts all over the house and scoots his poopy bum on the carpet to itch the inflammation and try to bring some relief.
Scared and confused, you make a vet appointment, spend $65 on a fecal exam, and wait anxiously to be told your new puppy has giardia.
Your vet prescribes Panacur and explains that your pup needs to be consistently supervised because even if you give him medicine twice a day, the poop and bumhole of your pup are still infected and can re-infect him if he licks down there or eats his own poo.
Your backyard? Infected. Your carpet? Infected... and stained. Gross.
Ok, Tiffany. Sounds like you're being a bit dramatic...
Have fun explaining to your employer that you have to take the week off to make sure your puppy doesn't eat his own poo or lick his own bum.
Thank goodness my pup is in daycare.
Not anymore, he isn't. No daycare will take a puppy without a negative fecal exam - even if they are taking antibiotics. And if you even think about bringing your puppy to daycare KNOWING he has giardia... you are a horrible human being.
Well, I can crate him all day while I'm at work - he never poops in his crate.
You do you, but I think diarrhea kind of has a mind of its own, don't you? #beenthere
This is a true story that happened to not one, but TWO, of my close dog mom friends. Not the diarrhea mind of its own part, that was just me. Yikes.
My personal experience with Mara and giardia was not as explosive but was socially annoying. It started when I took her to her first 8-week vet appointment and got a phone call the next day that her fecal exam came back as positive for round worms and giardia.
Because she showed no symptoms at the time, the vet didn't want to give her antibiotics. His belief was that antibiotics should really only be used if the symptoms put her health (hydration, etc.) in jeopardy. He told me to make sure I was keeping her bum clean, to make sure she wasn't eating her poop, and to bring her back in two weeks to re-test her.
Two weeks went by... I anxiously awaited the new test results (hallelujah insurance) and unfortunately received another positive fecal exam. The giardia would not go away on its own and I did have to get antibiotics...
I administered the pre-pulled syringes of Panacur (the antibiotic that was prescribed) into Mara's mouth twice a day and prayed that this would FINALLY be the last of the giardia.... then this happened:
I was livid.
Now Mara was about 13 weeks old and STILL had giardia. We couldn't start Puppy Preschool, we couldn't socialize with friends, and we wouldn't do anything that would put other puppies at risk.
If you have a new puppy, you know how torturous it is being stuck inside without any way to burn their energy.
Instead of doing another round of antibiotics I did what any crazy dog mom would do and did a deep dive into Google, searching for all the home remedies and non-medicinal ways to get rid of giardia.
After sticking to the first two of the following three pieces of advice, I finally got the negative fecal exam and we were able to start Puppy Preschool.
1. Put pineapple in her food to deter Her from eating her infected poo.
I got this advice from our vet when Mara's giardia was inactive. He was concerned that although he couldn't see any parasites under the microscope, it was possible she would excrete some unhatched eggs hanging out in her intestines (that were making the more sensitive testing show positive) and then eat them and re-infect herself with active parasites.
Since Mara had eaten a piece of poop before, this was something that actually proved important in our fight against the little bugs.
I'm not sure who discovered this trick. I looked it up online and it said the theory of putting pineapple in a dog's food to stop them from eating their poo is not scientifically proven, but if given a guess, people believe it gives the poop an unappealing bitter or acidic taste.
Worked for us!
2. bulk her poo with sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin
Bulking is important for several different reasons: 1) to bulk the watery stool and aid in hydration and water retention, 2) to give the poo some texture so it can "scrape" the sides of the intestines clean, and 3) to help naturally express the anal glands which can get inflamed and problematic if your pup has consistently runny poo (hence "scooting").
Mara was the pickiest puppy, so rotation of sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin was vital.
To prep the sweet potatoes (yams) I would just cut half of one into 1/2 inch cubes, put them in a microwaveable dish with a little water, and steam them in the microwave for 4 min or until they were mashable. To prep the carrots, I would do the same thing but cook them for less time. For the pumpkin, I bought 100% canned organic pumpkin from the grocery store and put a dollop on top of her food.
Bulking is absolutely THE best way to manage giardia symptoms (and even unrelated runny poo issues in the future).
3. White rice is your best friend
This is the most well-known tip for helping with a dog that won't eat. Bland foods tend to be easier on the digestive system.
Because I hate waiting for rice, but still wanted my microwaveable rice to have some quality to it (AKA no white minute-rice), I bought the Jasmine Rice packets from Trader Joe's because you can pop a pack in the microwave for 3 minutes and have enough rice for a day or two (depending on how much your pup is eating).
On Mara's worst day she still ate a little rice. I had to hand-feed her, but she still took a few bites. As she felt better, I mixed sweet potato in and it made almost like a rice pudding.
I sincerely hope these tips work for you and I hope you get that NEGATIVE test soon! Stick with it and don't be discouraged - you are not alone! If you've already seen these tips somewhere else, I hope you found some other helpful information within the rest of the post!
I would love to hear from you if you have other tips and tricks!