Bullmarket French Bulldog Breeders

Treating Giardia in Dogs

3D model of a Giardia protozoans

3D model of a Giardia Protozoan

Years ago, I bought an adorable little pied bitch. She arrived safe and sound, but she brought some extra friends with her – Giardia protozoans.

The Giardia parasite is a mysterious, annoying, tenacious little bug. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can effect both pets, and humans. Children are especially at risk of contracting Giardia (likely due to their habit of putting everything they find on the ground into their mouths).
Giardia causes diarrhea, and can also cause malabsorption of vitamins and nutrients. Giardia is difficult and expensive to diagnose definitively, and until recently required a very fresh stool sample and an inventive series of testing methods, including:
  • Being sure to examine a direct smear of the fecal sample (in hope of finding swimming trophs).
  • Floating the sample in zinc sulfate, a solution that has been found superior in getting Giardia cysts to float.
  • Staining the sample with some sort of iodine under the microscope to make the Giardia show up easier.
There is now a simple ELISA test available to simplify diagnosis, but since the giardia organism only sheds intermittently, several tests over an extended period of time can sometimes be required to obtain a definitive finding of Giardia.
Treatment of Giardia was even more complicated than diagnosing it. Until recently, the most commonly prescribed treatment was Metronidazole (trade name Flagyl®). Metronidazole was required in high doses, for an extended period of time, and was still only effective in just over 60% of all cases. Additionally, Metronidazole has some side effects in high doses, including nausea, neurological symptoms including head tilting and staggering, rapid eye movements known as “nystagmus“, and seizures (particularly in cats). Metronidazole also cannot be used on pregnant animals, as it has been linked to birth defects.

Like most breeders, I routinely worm my puppies, using the standard protocol of worming them every 2 weeks, starting at 3 weeks old. I now use a broad spectrum wormer which treats Giardia in addition to intestinal worms.

The brand we us is called Safeguard, and you can get it from almost any farm supply place in the USA. I get it from my veterinarian, since she makes it up into a suspension for me.

The literature for it says it treats:

Safe-Guard Canine Dewormer will treat Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, and Tapeworms.

But the active ingredient, Fenbendazole, is approved in Europe for treatment of Giardia.

From the this site:

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.

From the sounds of it, fendendazole is not only available at lower cost, and over the counter, but it is considered safer and more effective in giardia treatment and precention:

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.

More on fenbendazole based anti parasitics here:

http://www.veterina rypartner. com/Content. plx?P=A&A=1596

More on fenbendazole and giardiasis on the Veterinary Information Network: http://www.vin. com/VINDBPub/ SearchPB/ Proceedings/ PR05000/PR00425. htm


Fenbendazole (Panacur), well known for its effectiveness against a variety of intestinal parasites, also appears to be very effective against Giardia. In a controlled trial at Cornell 6/6 dogs were effectively treated. The same dose that is used to treat roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and the tapeworm Taenia pisiformis (22 mg/lb orally once daily for 3 consecutive days) is used to treat Giardia. If the infection is not cleared on this regimen, a longer course of therapy is used (5 to 7 days). Fenbendazole has a proven track record for being very safe and is thought to not have any teratogenic effects. Fenbendazole is therefore the drug of choice for treatment of Giardia in pregnant animals.

Ironically, it’s also the treatment of choice (in conjunction with amoxicillin) for those pesky clostridium perfrigens, the weird little pest that made my last litter so sick. If I’d just wormed them a week earlier with the exact drug I normally use anyways, I could have saved almost $600 in vet bills and lab test fees. Figures!!

27 replies
  1. RHz
    RHz says:

    Thanks for sharing this one. We battled Giardia AND Coccidia a few months apart from each other. Explosive diarrhea is not my favorite past time with my Frenchie!

    Also, I’ve always been skeptical about over the counter meds for any of my pets… Safe Guard is OTC… how do you typically know if one is okay and one is not? There are so many. (I’m not questioning your judgement, just trying to figure out how one knows they work and are safe.)

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      Safe Guard is OTC… how do you typically know if one is okay and one is not?

      I don’t typically trust OTC, either — here in Canada, though, I can’t get canine formulated Safeguard without a prescription, so I get mine from my vet. I used to use an over the counter, human formulated wormer that my previous vet had recommended to me (I believe the brand name is Combantrin). It worked fine for me, but my new vet uses Safe Guard. Finding out that it killed giardia was just an added bonus for us!

  2. SmartDogs
    SmartDogs says:

    We’ve used SafeGuard for a few years now. The dogs are in the woods (with critter poop) and farms (with livestock poop) and creeks (like in our back yard) often enough that we just dose them twice a year. Good to know that it may be stopping/preventing Giardia along with other things!

    SmartDogs’s last blog post..Charges Filed in Montana Case

  3. Leeloos Mom
    Leeloos Mom says:

    Leeloo went undiagnosed for 6 months, tests were not run in a lab, just in clinic. Along with C perfringens she has been diagnosed with IBD. Chronic giardia and C Perfringen has been shown to be one of the pre-cursors to IBD.
    Specialists, many diet changes and many expensive medication trials, Leeloo is finally controlled.
    Who thought someone could be so HAPPY to see a log of poop vs a pile 🙂

  4. Emily~ DreamEyce
    Emily~ DreamEyce says:

    Thank you for the post! Here in rainy, muddy, rural Oregon I’ve dealt with giardia close and personal a few times, esp with my older Cardigan Traum. The single, most embarrassing call I’ve ever made was to a trainer, letting her know I took an infected dog to class (before I knew it), but luckily no one else got the icckies.

    The easiest way to pick up giardia is dirty water. Ponds, puddles, buckets, or other still water that could possibly have infected fecal matter. It’s easy to catch, hard to diagnose, but luckily if you know what it *IS*, can be relatively easy to treat.

    This is the time of year for it too in many places. Mud, mud, mud, as well as wildlife with compromised immune systems.

    Emily~ DreamEyce’s last blog post..Brainstorming: What artsy dog show awards have been your favorites?

  5. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Elizabeth – Safeguard’s active ingredient is fenbendazole. Safeguard and Panacur both have fenbendazole. The Safeguard paste is for equine. It is an off label use for canine. The dosing is different. That is the difference. Safeguard does not want people to know what the correct dosing is for dogs. They make a separte formula for dogs that is much more costly!!

  6. H. Houlahan
    H. Houlahan says:

    If you have large dogs, or large numbers of dogs, just buy the horse paste or the liquid suspension for goats. Orders of magnitude cheaper.

    Follow the canine dosing as for mg/kg, and remember that carnivores need to be dosed with fenbendazole for three days in a row (intestinal worms) or five days (giardia) because they excrete the drug very quickly. Using a higher dosage doesn’t work.

    Never fear about overdosing; the margin of safety on this one is so broad, the manufacturer was unable to find an LD50 on it. The rats could not be forced enough of it to kill any of them.
    .-= H. Houlahan´s last blog ..Gaia and Luna =-.

  7. Krista
    Krista says:

    Hi! I was hopeing you guys could help me out. My two dogs have had Giardia 3 times in the last year due to the place we live (ponds, wild animals, etc.). Last time we treated both the dogs, my vet charged us 116.50 for 150mls of Panacur paste. But now they have it again! Since they keep getting Giardia, I think I need to just routinely treat them (every 3 months or so) to prevent their explosive diareah. However, this gets really expensive! My vet said I need to use the paste (he says the granules don’t work as well). Is he ripping me off? Is there a cheaper way to treat my dogs (I have one 40 pound and one 70 pound dog)? Any idea where to buy this stuff? I noticed that KV Vet sells it by the liter (http://www.kvvet.com/KVVet/product_family.asp?family%5Fid=1245&gift=False&mscssid=087005D1DE5AA4167A94EFDCF125246D). But I think this is the horse wormer and they require a precription. He should give me one right? Any help would be appreciated!


  8. frogdogz
    frogdogz says:

    Krista, read the post above from Heather. You can dose dogs with Safeguard, which is available (cheaply!) from most co ops and farm supply stores. It’s equally as effective on dogs, as it contains the same active ingredient, simply in a different formulation.

    The KV vet product is just fine, and your vet may or may not be willing to give you a prescription, but in my experience half of the on line places don’t ask you for one anyways.

  9. mtnman
    mtnman says:

    Just figured the dosage of Safe-Guard Equine Dewormer (horse paste 10%) for my dogs, it is 1ml(1 gram) per 5 lbs of weight. So one 25 gram tube of Safe-Guard horse paste will treat 5-25 lb dogs one time ($12.00). You will need to dose this three days in a row to be effective. I researched this a good while before I gave this to all my dogs including my 3 week old beagle puppies and found that I should have given it to the puppies at two weeks of age. Puppies should be dosed at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age and then once a month. There is also some info out there about ivomectin (heart and round worms) but it is some what dangerous if you do not give the correct dosage, so you can figure that one your self. As far as the Safe-Guard from what I found you probably can not hurt them with this, testing in a lab they were not able to OD a rat by force feeding the stuff to them, so I feel safe giving it at this point. You can also give safe guard to pregnant ant whelping females safely. I learned about the safe guard at the Beagles Unlimited web site but searched for many hours in forums and other tech sites that Google listed before I would give this to my dogs. If you have a lot of dogs or large dogs this will save you lots of money, and no script needed just go to the local farmers coop or Tractor Supply and get it and the ivomectin to if you wish. I will continue my research for the heart worms too and remember this is what I choose to do for my dogs and only share that. I am not a Vet nor had any schooling there of.

  10. Rose
    Rose says:

    The paste is 100mg/g. Same strength as the liquid, so it should be 1 gram per 4 pounds to make sure you are not under dosing.

    Do you have a gram scale so you can weigh the paste?
    How did you come up with a gram equals 1ml?

    Beagles Unlimited has the wrong dose for the Safe Guard liquid.
    The dose is 50mg/kg which is 22.7mg/lb.

    5 pounds times 22.7,g equals 113.5mg. One ml has 100mg, so the dose is a little short.

    It is better to dose 1.25ml per 5 pounds. Or .25ml per pound.

    Read the label and know the correct dose for the animal you are using it on.

    Under dosing is way worse than a little bit over dosing. You don’t kill all the worms and can start to cause drug resistance in the next generations.

    • Tiffany Campbell
      Tiffany Campbell says:

      My dogs Miley (Olde English Bulldogge 6 months) and LouLou (5 month French Bulldog) have Giardia. My vet prescribed them Metronidazole three times. Each time he increased the dose and had them stay on it for a longer period of time, but all in all it was unsuccessful! After reading all of the postings we went and purchased the Safe-Guard paste (for horses). I am just wondering if you recommend going on it for 3 days and then taking a break and then giving for another three days? They have had the Giardia for almost 6 weeks now and I want it gone! Other websites recommend doing more than one cycle but no one lists how long you should break for in between the cycles. Any advice?

      • frogdogz
        frogdogz says:

        Tiffany, my understanding is that the recommended dosage is given for FIVE days, not three. You then stop for three weeks, and then repeat for another five days of treatment.

        Your best bet, of course, is to ask your vet for dosage advice, but the regimen I mentioned is what I was told to use.

  11. kevin
    kevin says:

    I have numerous dogs including a 5 month old puppy that was just dignoised with giardia I’m treating him … I’m worried I have a female pregnant about 37 days how can I treat her as I’m worried she may be infected

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      Hi Kevin —

      I honestly don’t know what your options are for treating giardia in pregnant bitches. Your best bet is to check the labeling on your product, and ask your veterinarian. Either way, if she’s carrying giardia now, you’ll probably have to treats the neonates when they arrive.

  12. Susan
    Susan says:

    I used Safeguard when I was breeding Akitas, that was at least 15 years ago. Haven’t used it in a few years, and now find that it isn’t sold in BC Canada at the livestock places anymore. Same for the Ivermec – which has proved to ‘cure’ a couple of dermatology problems that had been diagnosed as allergies. Buying thru vet is extremely expensive, plus vets are reluctant because it is off-label use.

  13. Bob
    Bob says:

    I have a 13 week old Italian Greyhound pup that my vet said he has giardia. My vet wants to treat with metronidazole, which I’ve read many places should not be used in puppies. Would the Safeguard be a better alternative?

  14. Barb
    Barb says:

    can someone tell me how much panacur paste to use for a 40lb springer with giardia? It comes in a 25gr tube but it is listed in lbs for a horse.

    • Scott
      Scott says:

      My vet gives me the equine panacure for my dogs and he says to use a quarter turn on the dial per 2lbs of weight.Just put a maek on the dial and use that to figure your turns.For 40lbs a half turn will be fine.

  15. Diana
    Diana says:

    I have chihuahuas and need to know if 1cc given to a 2 lb chia puppy is too muchI have the Sageguard for goats liguid ane need to know dosage for 1 and 2 lb chihuahua puppies that are now 8 to 12 wks old. Don’t want to overdose but need to get rid of this giardia, I have just done the Metronidazole for 5 days but need to worm them with the safeguard as a follow up and insurance of it being gone. HELP

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      I have chihuahuas and need to know if 1cc given to a 2 lb chia puppy is too much

      You really need to consult your veterinarian for an exact dosage.

      • julie
        julie says:

        it is 1.25 ml (or cc’s) per 5 lbs Our basset hound puppy is 35 lbs and gets 9 cc’s. Your chi should get 1/2 a cc for 3-5 days depending on what it’s being treated for (giardia is 5 days than another treatment 3 weeks later).

        as a previous poster mentioned it’s extremely difficult to overdose. Just watch your puppies very close for any wierd behaviors (our basset does get diarrhea on the safeguard).

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