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Beaver Fever or Giardia~

Intestinal Giardiasis~ Giardia has the ability to infect many mammals including the dog, cat, deer mouse, ground squirrel, chinchilla, swine, pocket mouse, ox, guinea pig, and humans. Control of Giardia, from a public health standpoint, should start with municipal drinking water.  The prevalence of Giardia in humans within industrialized countries is 2-5%.  The prevalence of Giardia in humans within developing countries is 20-30%.  As many as 95% of human travelers to St. Petersburg, Russia have shown signs of giardiasis.  In children that attend day care centers, the prevalence of Giardia has been found to be as high as 35%.  Filtration can be quite effective for removing Giardia cysts from water.  Since this parasite may be found in lakes, streams, and ponds, both hikers and backpackers must be warned to boil or filter drinking water prior to ingestion and be aware of when your dogs drink it. Giardia duodenalis infection is common in dogs and cats , with the highest prevalence being in the west.

Vaccine There is currently a commercially available vaccine against Giardia in the United States.  My research shows it to have little effect in preventing Giardia. It just helps control the expressed cysts to help in the prevention of other dogs contracting Giardia.

Signs There are no pathognomonic clinical signs associated with giardiasis.  The most common sign is chronic or intermittent foul-smelling bowel diarrhea.  Diarrhea is usually lightly colored, greasy and mixed with mucus.  Diarrhea is not usually watery and does not generally contain blood.


  • No drugs are approved for treatment of giardiasis in dogs and cats in the United States.
  • Metronidazole is the most commonly used extra-label therapy; however, efficacies as low as 50% to 60% are reported. Safety concerns also limit the use of metronidazole in dogs and cats.
  • Albendazole is effective against Giardia but is not safe in dogs and cats and should not be used. It is commonly used for it’s low cost and most ranchers have it already on hand for other livestock.
  • Fenbendazole (50 mg/kg SID for 3 to 5 days) is effective in eliminating Giardia infection in dogs.  Fenbendazole is approved for Giardia treatment in dogs in Europe, and available experimental evidence suggests that it is more effective than metronidazole in treating Giardia in dogs.
  • A combination of febantel, pyrantel pamoate, and praziquantel (DrontalPlus) is effective in treating Giardia in dogs when administered daily for 3 days using the dose bands indicated on the DrontalPlus label.

Herbal Medications for Giardia Herbs containing the compound berberine, such as goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) and Oregon grape (Mahonia repens, or Berberis aquifolium), are effective against Giardia. Tinctures of these two herbs can be given to your dog twice daily for 10 days. Grapefruit seed extract is more commonly recommended, though treatment will take up to two weeks. For every 10 pounds of body weight, sprinkle a capsule or 10 to 15 drops of liquid grapefruit seed extract onto the dog’s food three times a day.

Also recommend: A course of probiotic supplements, digestive enzyme supplements and L-Glutamine to protect the lining of stomach and intestines. The herb slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) is recommended for relief of diarrhea.

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