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Hygiene measures against Giardia

Giardia intestinalis causes diarrhea in dogs, cats and humans. © iStockphoto.com/ Eraxion

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When dogs and cats harbor giardia, medication alone is often not enough. Disinfection and hygiene help to get the household free again.

What are Giardia?

Giardia are single-cell organisms that parasitize in the small intestines of domestic animals and humans (less often wild animals). Giardia can cause severe or even life-threatening diarrhea, especially in young animals, children or immunocompromised people - but this rarely happens. Usually there are no symptoms at all or only mild diarrhea, which occurs again and again or can drag on for weeks.

Giardia, which cause problems in dogs, cats and humans, are known under the synonyms Giardia intestinalis, Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis and are very common in our environment. Among them there are various "genotypes", of which only a few of the Giardia genotypes found in dogs and cats are infectious to humans.

Why are Giardia so difficult to get rid of?

Actually, there are drugs that are effective against Giardia and kill the parasites. Nevertheless, many pet owners are unpleasantly surprised because Giardia can be detected again in the faeces of their four-legged friend just a few days after the treatment. How can that be?

Freshly treated dogs and cats are often infected again immediately with Giardia in their immediate vicinity. The parasite's very resistant cysts are found in the fur of the anal region, in blankets and pillows, or on bowls and toys, for example. In the long term, your household will only be free of giardia again if you manage to eliminate these giardia cysts.

 

How can Giardia be killed?

Giardia cysts can remain infectious for months in a warm, humid environment. Temperatures above 25 ° C, drought and frost below -4 ° C let them die within a few days.

In addition to treating your animal, you should also:

Everything that comes into contact with the animal and is boilable must be boiled (or washed at over 65 ° C)! Freeze everything else for several days!

Giardia are surprisingly resistant to conventional disinfectants and hygiene washers, and special filter methods are required even in sewage treatment plants to get wastewater free from giardia. So far, there have only been a few disinfectants approved against Giardia and they were actually intended for use in stables, so that they were more suitable for kennels and animal shelters than for the household.

Recently (2019) there was finally a disinfectant effective against billions for normal households: Vipibax Giardien Ex.

The Vipibax Giardien Ex is available as a hygiene spray for simple spray disinfection of surfaces and as a wipe concentrate for disinfecting floors. As a precaution, textiles should be tested in an inconspicuous place to see whether the fabric is fading.

The most important hygiene measures against Giardia at a glance

The ESCCAP * experts list the following tips in their 2017 updated guideline on "Hygiene measures in Giardia":

Useful measures to prevent transmission to other animals and to prevent reinfection are:

  • Picking up feces and removal of the excrement in the closed plastic bag with household waste.
  • Thorough cleaning All surfaces contaminated by excrement (floors and walls) with subsequent complete drying, the use of steam jets (> 60 ° C) is optimal.
  • disinfection all surfaces or objects with suitable disinfectants.
  • Feeding and drinking vessels Clean daily with boiling water or wash in the dishwasher at> 65 ° C.
  • Litter box Clean daily with boiling water and then dry thoroughly.
  • Blankets and pillows wash hot (> 65 ° C). Non-washable but possibly contaminated textiles with household waste.
  • Scratching posts vacuum and clean thoroughly.
  • Dogs and cats if necessary bathe and shampoo (e.g. with products containing chlorhexidine digluconate *) in order to remove adhering faeces, if necessary, shave long hair in the anal area.
  • Pay attention to hygiene, especially with immunocompromised people and young children. Wash hands after handling your dog and cat.

* Note: Skin-friendly shampoos for dogs and cats containing chlorhexidine can be found in Dr. Hölters online shop, e.g. aniMedica Clorexyderm Shampoo or alfavet HexoCare Shampoo.

It is very important to have the success of the treatment and the hygiene measures checked by a veterinarian. For this reason, you should hand in faecal samples of your animal to the veterinary practice a few days after the end of the medication administration.

* ESCCAP: European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites; www.esccap.de

Is there anything else I can do to prevent my animal from having problems with Giardia again?

We are asked this question frequently, but it is difficult to answer. What is certain is that Giardia often do not cause any problems such as diarrhea in healthy animals. This is precisely why Giardia are so widespread in the environment: Many four-legged friends walk around with Giardia on board without anyone knowing about it because they are not sick.

Unfortunately, as far as we know, there is no scientific study that could "measure" whether a strengthening of the immune system and measures to promote intestinal health cause an animal to get rid of the pathogens itself or to tolerate it in the future. However, we often recommend that our patient owners take special care of their pet's intestinal health, especially after treatment with antibiotics. It is well known that a stable, healthy intestinal flora (microbiome) makes it more difficult for pathogens to settle in the intestine.

For example, the gift of one makes sense Probiotic after treatment with antibiotics. Also Prebiotics (which provide nourishment for the beneficial intestinal bacteria) are recommended, preferably in combination with a probiotic. In our own experience, the feeding of Colostrum help to promote intestinal health and the immune system. It also has probiotic properties and helps to strengthen the intestinal barrier.

 

You can find out more about intestinal health and immune strengthening in our article "How do I strengthen my dog's immune system?" read.