Bloody Stools And Girardia in English Bulldog Puppies
So you have survived the maze of online ads offering bulldogs for sale. You found the perfect English bulldog puppy. You have brought him home. It is now four days later and his stools are runny. He has diarrhea and there is a small amount of blood in his stool.
First things first: a disclaimer of Liability: The information contained in this article is that of an experienced English bulldog breeder, not a veterinarian The information found in this article is an explanation of our experiences and should not be construed as medical advice. When in need of medical advice be sure to get help from a good veterinarian.
Bulldog puppies displaying soft and or bloody stools will when tested nearly always show a positive test for Girardia or Coccidiosis. For more information on coccidiosis go to our article titled “What Is Coccidiosis?” It is not at all uncommon to find both coccidiosis AND girardia in the same dog. This article will deal primarily with Girardia as we have covered coccidiosis in detail in a prior article.
Giardia is a protozoan parasite, which affects the intestine. It is not limited to dogs, but can be found in humans as well. Puppies are exposed to the parasite through another animal’s feces that contain infectious cysts. This does not necesarily mean that your puppy needs to chow down on some dog poop he finds in the yard. Transmission might be as simple as a dog drinking water from a contaminated puddle. Oral ingestion allows the parasite to travel to the intestine. An infected dog sheds cysts that can stay alive potentially up to several months in damp, wet environments. If that cyst is ingested, the wall of the cyst is broken down by the dog’s digestive system. A carrier of girardia may be a-symptomatic. A mature dog may be a carrier of the girardia parasite and yet show no symptoms at all. Girardia is not a “trailor park” syndrome. It is not a disease that is primarily limited to dirty homes where people don’t take care of their dogs. This is a common disease that affects puppies in all types of homes. Transmission be be as simple as you taking your dog to the vet; your dog sniffs some dog poop on the grass, and in doing so he ingests sufficient giardia cycsts to infect him.. He might drink water from a dirty puddle. Studies I have read suggest that as few as two or three tiny cysts ingested is all that is needed to proliferate the spread of the disease. Girardia is very prolific and easily transmitted. The good news, while transmitted easily, it is also fairly easy to treat.
While an unpleasant experience, girardia would rarely be considered life threatening in English bulldog puppies. Symptoms generally appear more acute in younger animals, particularly those under stress. Young puppies that have been moved to a new home and have recently received vaccination are susceptible to a lowered immune thereby facilitating the transmission of the disease. Statistics have shown that in excess of 50% of all puppies are likely to contract girardia. At any given point in time studies show that upwards of 10% of all dogs in the United States have the Girardia protazoa in their system. The parasite is very tiny. It is microscopic in size. It resides in the mucous lining of the intestine disturbing the lining and causing small hemorrhages to the wall lining at the cellular level.
We have found the most effecient course of action when a dog presents symptoms of either Girardia and/or coccidiosis to simply treat the dog assuming the most logical and simple explantation is the correct answer. If a dog does not respond, then we follow up with more in depth testing. Thankfully the vast majority of dogs will respond to one of two treatments. Diagnosing Girardia is sketchy at best.
Even if a dog has contracted the parasite and is shedding cysts, it is still possible for the dog to pass a standard girardia fecal exam with a negative in test results. Cysts may not be present in every stool. As a result, false negative are not uncommon when testing via fecal examination.
The more accurate method of diagnosing Girardia is thought the use of a monoclonal antibody based ELISA test. This test tends to be more accurate than a fecal examine when it becomes important to verify a more positive test result. However, not all vets are set up to perform this ELISA test. If you have to send the test off to a lab it may be several days before test results come back indicating one way or another. Consequently, it is not uncommon when symptoms of Girardia show up to just go ahead and treat the dog. And if this does not work, then further testing can be necesary.
Girardia is typically treated with metronidazole. This comes in both liquid and pill form. We buy metronidazole through an online company, Revival Animal Health. This can be purchased online through Revival Animal Health. Here is the link to their site. http://www.revivalanimal.com/ Revival Animal Health has a good online website. In addition to their website, for those of you who are not online as often, or not as comfortable with the internet. Revival Animal Health also offers an old fashioned written catalogue.
Metronidazole is offered in two tablet size through Revival Animal Health. The small size is called “Fish Zole” and is 250 mg. Their larger size is called “Fish Zole Forte” and is 500 mg. When we dose our puppies as a preventative we give 1 Fish Zole tablet per 10 lbs of bodyweight, or we give 1 Fish Zole Forte per 20 lbs of bodyweight. When we are proactively treating our English bulldog puppies (as is our custom) we treat at 4 weeks old and then again just prior to 8 weeks old.
This is where I buy most of the basic medication we use for the treatment of Girardia, Coccidia, worming and basic vaccinations. They are a great resource. Revival Animal Health has a vet on staff. This can be helpful, as you can know that information you are receiving is not simply the opinion of a well-meaning phone receptionist, but rather a licensed and trained Veterinarian. Fish Zole is metronidazole labeled and packaged for fish. It has the exact same ingredient as prescription metronidazole. We have opted to use Fish Zole with our English bulldogs as an off label brand simply because of cost. This is an inexpensive product with the same great quality and potency of a name brand product.
We hope this first part of our article on Girardia has been helpful and will help eliminate some of the fear and mystery surrounding this disease. Make sure to click on Part 2 of this article and read through the remaining information available on our website concerning the treatment of Girardia in English bulldog puppies.
Article by Chad McCarthy of www.sumobulldogs.com