Meet Faith, our newest family member! We brought this little 4 month-old Beagle/Hound mix home with us about a month ago after rescuing her from a local animal rescue. We went to meet her on a Friday evening and ended up bringing her home with us that night. She was born in the shelter, so we had all her records and knew her immunizations were up-to-date, her fecal tests were negative and she had been spayed. But right off the bat, we realized something wasn’t quite right. Between leaving with her Friday evening and time to put her to bed Friday night, she had 7 bowel movements. While we realized it could have been from nerves, we called our Vet first thing Saturday morning and we got her an appointment for Monday morning.
At her appointment, we discovered she had a Giardia infection. Giardia is a one-celled parasite that may not show up on standard fecal float tests given to dogs, which is why the animal rescue missed it. It is very common in rescue dogs who are living together, especially puppies. The parasites attach themselves to the intestinal wall and the damage causes acute diarrhea. Cysts are shed when the animal goes to the bathroom, and dogs become infected usually by playing on soil or ingesting water that has been contaminated with these cysts, which are very difficult to kill. The CDC recommends cleaning up with quaternary ammonium, and disinfecting the dog’s toys daily while being treated. Not only is is difficult to clean up after, Giardia can be very difficult to get rid of, because unless you are meticulous with cleaning up after your pet, including washing them after every bathroom visit, they constantly reinfect themselves simply by licking. I read some cases in which it took months to finally get rid of the infection. If left untreated, or if treatment isn’t effective, it can even be fatal.
Given all that information, we did exactly what our Vet advised us to do. We immediately put Faith on special “digestive health” food, and started giving her the antibiotic Flagyl (metronidazole) and the antiparasitic Panacur (fenbendazole). She got better, for a few days, but after her treatment was finished, the diarrhea came right back. I was not looking forward to putting her back on drugs that didn’t work the first time around, Flagyl in particular. I had been given Flagyl after Natalie was born for a drug resistant infection, so I knew its side effects and how strong it is. And well, if you are reading this blog, I bet you could guess that I’m a “all natural mama” even when it comes to our fur-babies!
Then, I remembered reading something about a non-toxic, natural treatment for fleas, so that led to me Google, which led me to this:
Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is a non-toxic substance made up of crushed fossils of freshwater organisms and marine life. It is crushed into a fine powder, but when observed under a microscope, the fine particles look like shards of broken glass. It is deadly to insects, but completely harmless to animals. The microscopically sharp edges come into contact with the insect or parasite and their larvae, and shred their outer layer. Soon, they dehydrate and die. In this way, worms and parasites can be eliminated within days of beginning treatment. It is advised to feed your pet the Diatomaceous Earth for at least 30 days to catch all newly hatching eggs. The recommended dosage is to feed your dog who is 55lbs and over one tablespoon per day and smaller dogs should get one teaspoon per day. Another use for Diatomaceous Earth, that we hopefully don’t have a need to try, is to control external parasites and fleas by dusting your dog and her bedding.
On day 3 of taking the Diatomaceous Earth, we noticed a significant improvement in Faith’s symptoms. She is now on day 7, and there are no signs she was ever sick. We will continue to feed her Diatomaceous Earth for the next 3 weeks, as is recommended, but I think it is safe to say we have an all natural, safe, inexpensive, easy, and EFFECTIVE winner!