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Giardia - long. Hopefully helpful

June 9th, 2006, 09:52 AM
Hello everyone.
I have just recently gotten my 2 Norwich Terriers (Nigel 8 year old male and Divot 8 year old female) over a terrible bout of Giardia. Here is our story.
We moved to a place where it is apparently a problem (unbeknownst to me.) Neither of my dogs have ever had it before so I wasn't familiar with all of the symptoms, but knew a few. The symptoms came on slowly starting with occasional diarrhea in my girl Divot. I took her to my holistic vet, who said she had an imbalance, gave her an accupuncture treatment and some herbs. That didn't help. I took her to my conventional vet and had a fecal done on her and it came back negative for parasites. Symptoms continued and others were added such as more consistent soft stools with mucus and then she began to eat stones. X-rays were done and nothing was found. Then she began to have gas and a gurgly stomach and watery diarrhea. Another fecal was done and nothing was found. Then her breath got incredibly foul - it smelled exactly like her feces! Poor thing is such an adorable and affectionate girl too! Interestingly enough, this went on for several months and she never even lost an ounce of weight. Back to the vet we went and I was told that she had food sensitivities. I didn't buy it but she still had diarrhea and I was at my wits end, so I asked for blood tests and they came back normal. The final clue was when Nigel began to have diarrhea. 2 days later, I received my monthly subscription of Whole Dog Journal and the cover story was on Giardia. In their story, they mentioned that one of the symptoms was "breath that smelled like feces." That was it - I took fecal samples in and demanded that they send them to an outside lab and specifically test for Giardia. They didn't even have to send them out. In-house they found that both dogs "were full of Giardia." It was at this time my vet (who is no longer my vet!) said, "Giardia is very common here." I was so furious! If it's so common why wasn't it the first thing to be looked for when all of the classic Giardia symptoms presented??? :mad:
I prefer to go with natural methods when I can but I didn't feel I had time because my boy got hit hard and began to lose weight fast and he was very lethargic - all within just a few days and my girl had suffered for so long. It took us 2 rounds of Flagyl to get Nigel over it and the Flagyl and 2 rounds of Panacur to get it out of Divot. I also used a natural supplement to soothe the intestinal tract, and acidophillus as well. Both dogs were put on a bland diet of organic chicken and rice during this time. It took almost 5 weeks for all symptoms to disappear but finally I have 2 healthy dogs. During this time I changed vets and have had 3 follow-up fecals done (at an outside lab) and also a bacterial culture done and they are clean.
The moral of the story? I knew in my heart that it had to be some sort of intestinal parasite and I should have demanded that an outside lab look at the fecals the first time around. Follow your gut instincts. Also, don't be afraid to change vets or at least get another opinion. I didn't feel that my dog's symptoms were being taken seriously and I should have changed vets sooner. I feel like I really let my dogs down on that one. My little girl Divot suffered a long time and I feel responsible for that. We are our pet's advocate and we are the only ones who can speak for them. We are the liason between them and the vet and if we are not being listened to, we need to make changes for our pet's sake. Nobody knows your pet like you do. Don't be afraid to stand up to your vet - he or she is only human after all.

Sorry this was so long. I hope it helps someone out there.