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Staff member
Jan 13, 2009
What is Giardia you ask?

If your Sphynx has these symptoms, chronic diarrhea, horrible smelly poop, soft stools, bloody diarrhea, and sometimes even vomiting it's quite possible they have Giardia. The parasite lives in the intestinal tract and causes damage to the intestines. Giardia is commonly seen in young cats confined together in groups, such as a cattery, kennels, shelters, and pet stores.


VERY smelly diarrhea is the most common sign of infection. Some cats may vomit in addition to the diarrhea. Weight loss may occur secondary to the diarrhea. The cat may still have a good appetite as well but still have the diarrhea. In many instances, a cat may be infected with Giardia, but show no clinical signs at all.


There are several ways to diagnose Giardia infection. The most common methods involve analysis of a fecal smear. Direct analysis of a fecal sample may lead to a quick diagnosis. A fecal sample can also be sent to a diagnostic laboratory for more sophisticated testing. Many vets misdiagnose Giardia because sometimes it takes several samples to show positive! Frequently we see test results come back false negative, so many vets will treat for it as the actual treatment will not hurt them. Talk to your vet about this.


Metronidazole (Flagyl) has been used extensively to treat Giardia in dogs and cats, as well as in people. This drug has an added advantage of being effective against other protozoans and some bacteria that might also be contributing to the diarrhea. Side effects involving the nervous system have been reported in some animals, although this is uncommon. Cats with Giardia need to have their prescribed medication administered faithfully. High fiber diets often provide additional help in controlling the diarrhea along with pumpkin. If you have other pets, all animals should be treated to prevent reinfection or transfer back into the home. Note it can take a couple of rounds of meds if it doesn’t not work the first time.


Decontamination is recommended in multiple pet households and in crowding situations (kennels, a cattery, shelters, or pet stores), proper sanitation is key to prevent cross contamination from one animal to another. All fecal material/supplies needs to be disinfected from litter boxes to scoops etc.
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