August | 2012 | Ingram Park Animal Hospital

What if your pet was diagnosed with Giardiasis?

Clinical Signs and Transmission

Giardia is protozoa that infect the intestines. Giardia can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, and dehydration. Generally, giardia is transmitted from water contamination in the environment, although water is not necessary for it to survive in the environment. Rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, cattle tanks, etc. are classic problem areas for giardia.

It is important to treat giardia because they pose a serious health risk to humans, including diarrhea. If you have any human medical questions, please contact your family physician for advice.


Your pet will go home with an anti-giardia medication (usually either metronidazole or fenbendazole depending on the Doctor’s preference). Please follow all instructions on the label accordingly. If your pet is on metronidazole, please monitor for any neurological side affects including stumbling, “drunkenness,” rapid eye movement back and forth, seizures, etc. Your pet should be bathed at least once while being treated in order to wash away any giardia cysts that might be stuck to the coat.

If needed, anti-nausea medications, appetite stimulants, probiotics, and temporary therapeutic diets may be prescribed by the Doctor based on the individual pet’s case. Please follow all label instructions accordingly. Severe cases could necessitate hospitalization for IV fluids and injectable medications.


Please keep the yard picked up from all feces and remove any sources of stagnant water. Please minimize exposure to river, lake, or cattle tank water. Please make sure that everyone washes his or her hands in warm soapy water for at least 30 seconds after handling any pet.

Indoor areas should be thoroughly cleaned, and if possible disinfected with a solution of 1 part bleach to 32 parts water. Please check the surface for color safeness before applying bleach solution. Allow the solution to set for one minute before drying. Steam cleaning carpets may be helpful since those surfaces are not safe to bleach. Any pet should be thoroughly bathed before being put back into the cleaned environment.

Outdoor areas, if concrete, can be cleaned and disinfected as above. Dirt and vegetation unfortunately cannot be disinfected without destroying the plants.


We recommend a Follow-Up Examination and recheck Intestinal Parasite Examination in 5-8 days depending on medication prescribed to make sure that treatment was successful. Please monitor appetite, energy level, vomiting, diarrhea, or neurological problems and call for a recheck appointment if your pet stops eating or has continued problems. Please call IPAH at (210) 680-1800 if you have any questions or concerns.

IPAH recommends annual heartworm testing and year round administration of monthly Heartworm, Intestinal Parasite, and Flea prevention for all dogs and cats. Not only is this important for preventing illness in your companions, but it is important for preventing illness in your human family, too. Please contact us today about getting your companions on this vital part of their preventive wellness care.

by Charlotte Means, DVM

Magoo was a big, playful Labrador retriever who often got himself into some sticky situations. Usually, his escapades were harmless. But one day, he managed to snag a box of raisins from the pantry and ended up eating an entire pound of the sweet treats. Other than being exasperated by Magoo’s behavior, his guardians didn’t think much about it. They knew that lots of people shared grapes with their dogs and often used raisins as training rewards. So it hardly seemed the kind of emergency that required a call to the veterinarian. In fact, if Magoo’s parents had called the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) just a few years ago, they would have been told not to worry about it.

Through the Grapevine

Enter the APCC AnToxTM database, a computerized system that contains nearly 500,000 animal-related medical conditions and that enables veterinarians to quickly identify toxic-substance exposures, recognize clinical signs and administer proper treatment. By tracking cases in this registry, similarities in animal medical conditions nationwide can be logged and syndromes can be identified.

Around 1999, the APCC began noticing a trend in dogs who had eaten grapes or raisins: Nearly all developed acute renal (kidney) failure. As more cases were reported, enough data was generated in the database to help veterinarians identify and treat dogs at risk. In all of the cases, the ingredients for potential acute renal failure were the same. Whether the ingested grapes were purchased fresh from grocery stores or grown in private yards didn’t seem to matter, nor did the brand eaten. And the ingested amounts varied considerably, from over a pound of grapes to as little as a single serving of raisins. The cases weren’t from any specific region, but instead came from across the United States.

The database showed that dogs who ate the grapes and raisins typically vomited within a few hours of ingestion. Most of the time, partially digested grapes and raisins could be seen in the vomit, fecal material, or both. At this point, some dogs would stop eating (anorexia), and develop diarrhea. The dogs often became quiet and lethargic, and showed signs of abdominal pain. These clinical signs lasted for several days — sometimes even weeks.

When medical care was sought, blood chemistry panels showed consistent patterns.  Hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium levels) was frequently present, as well as elevated levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine and phosphorous (substances that reflect kidney function). These chemistries began to increase anywhere from 24 hours to several days after the dogs ate the fruit.  As the kidney damage developed, the dogs would produce little urine. When they could no longer produce urine, death occurred. In some cases, dogs who received timely veterinary care still had to be euthanized.

Why did the fruit cause the dogs to become ill? No one knows. Suspect grapes and raisins have been screened for various pesticides, heavy metals (such as zinc or lead), and mycotoxins (fungal contaminants) and so far, all results have come back negative. In the cases where the grapes were grown in private yards, owners confirmed that no insecticides, fertilizers or antifungals had been used on the fruit.

“Raisin” the Success Rate

Even though the exact cause of the renal failure is unknown, dogs who ingest grapes and raisins can be treated successfully to prevent its development. The first line of defense is decontamination. Inducing vomiting in recent ingestions and administering activated charcoal helps prevent absorption of potential toxins. Dogs should be hospitalized and placed on intravenous fluids for a minimum of 48 hours. A veterinarian should monitor blood chemistry daily for at least three days following the ingestion. If all blood work is normal after three days, it’s unlikely that kidney failure will occur. If a dog shows evidence of renal failure, fluids must be continued, and other medications should be used to stimulate urine production. Some dogs may need peritoneal dialysis, a process where the peritoneum (the membranes surrounding the abdominal organs) is used to filter waste products that are normally filtered by the kidney.

Thanks in part to the AnTox database, grape or raisin ingestion can be easily identified and treated. Today, a dog can make a complete recovery from this potentially fatal condition. They can be reached at 1-888-426-4435.

Dr. Means is a veterinary toxicologist at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Illinois.

Reprinted from ASPCA Animal Watch, Summer 2002, Volume 22, Number 2, with permission from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 424 East 92nd Street, New York, NY 10128-6804.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the only animal poison control center in North America. Established in 1978, at the University of IllinoisCollege of Veterinary Medicine. The Center is the only facility of its kind. Located in Urbana, Illinois, the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners and specific diagnostic and treatment recommendations to veterinarians.  In 2001, the Center handled over 65,000 cases.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact IPAH at (210) 680-1800.

IPAH recommends annual heartworm testing and year round administration of monthly Heartworm, Intestinal Parasite, and Flea prevention for all dogs and cats. Not only is this important for preventing illness in your companions, but it is important for preventing illness in your human family, too. Please contact us today about getting your companions on this vital part of their preventive wellness care.

It’s important to keep your medicines out of your pet’s reach at all times, because human medication can be toxic to your pets! When your pet feels sick or is acting under the weather, never give them a human medicine, but bring them in for veterinary care instead. Even if you mean well, a dose of human medicine could be fatal to your pet.