anyone treated for giardia? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 05-21-2012, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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anyone treated for giardia?

My boy came into the barn from an auction, and had obviously not been cared for properly for some time prior to his arrival at the auction. Feet hadn't been trimmed recently, needed dental work, etc. Not emaciated, but not at his proper weight either.

He also had chronically loose stools. Anywhere from grassy little soft plops to cow-pat consistency. I bought him about 8 months into this, and he'd been fed up to a more proper weight, had all his dental, farrier, etc. He was in pretty good shape except for this loose manure. Tail spent a lot of time being naaasty as a result, and all his farts were unappealingly wet. But he wasn't having trouble maintaining weight, skin and coat were fine, etc., he passed the vet check with a body condition score of 6, and neither I nor the seller remembered to mention the manure issue to the vet at the time. Horse is 17, previously a high-end competitor, so it could have been any number of things.

We didn't worry too much about it. Over the winter, I put him on a senior horse supplement, primarily for his joints, but it also had plenty of nutrients and probiotics, and it didn't affect his manure. I later added an omega-3 supplement because he doesn't get much pasture grass (he has 8 flakes plus a fairly small quantity of low-carb grain pellets to carry the supplements in per day). That also had a bunch of probiotics, and while his coat is nice and shiny, the manure didn't change.

At this point, it was Spring Shot Time, so I asked the vet about the manure, and he suggested a month of Probios. No apparent change, so when the vet was back out for Round Two of the Spring Shots, I got him to acupuncture the horse. He also suggested a five-day treatment of that antibiotic they give for giardia - in people, it's Flagyl. Metronizadole, or something like that.

Well, the loose manure cleared up RIGHT away, and he started making proper pellet-y horse apples, little dry ones, and - jeez - GAINING WEIGHT, and no more juicy farts. That is, until the five-day course of antibiotics was up, and the rest of of is kind of creeping back. His manure isn't so much dry horse apples, but wet, not cow-flops again, but not like it was. And even though his tail is still clean, he's got a wet mark like before on his bohunkus, and when he cut one in the crossties this morning, it wasn't squirty but had a juicy sound to it.

Vet was closed today, of course, so I couldn't ring them up (it's obviously not an *emergency*). I'll call tomorrow, but in the meantime, I'm wondering if anyone has treated for giardia before and had the symptoms creep back, I'm thinking maybe the course of antibiotics might not have been long enough. Either that, or we need another round of acupuncture, but I'm going to go with the antibiotics as the most likely cause of the problem clearing up (mostly).

Is there a test that can be done for this? I don't want to give him more antibiotics unless it's pretty sure that this is just a bacterial thing...but given how quickly he started to put on weight once the loose stools stopped, I don't want to leave him in that state if there's something I can do about it.
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post #2 of 4 Old 05-21-2012, 08:16 PM
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They can test for it in a fecal. My daughter actually had it. In animals inflammatory bowel is treated with flagyll as well, and can do the same.
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post #3 of 4 Old 05-21-2012, 08:23 PM
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Is it an actual confirmed case of giardia? I would second sending in a fecal sample, with an additional round of flagyl (that stuff's amazing) until the results come back. Could it be something in the feed that he is reacting to?
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post #4 of 4 Old 05-21-2012, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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It is not an actual confirmed case of giardia...the Flagyl was the next thing in the vet's arsenal for the problem, and I think that it was one of those "if he responds to it then we'll know more about the problem" decisions. I think acupuncture is awesome, I get it myself, but in my experience it doesn't make a prompt and dramatic difference, which is why I'm assuming that the marked improvement had something to do with the Flagyl.

It doesn't seem to be his feed - there isn't any evident correlation between the cow flops and new batches of hay, and when he came into the barn the BO (who is the person who bought him from the auction and later sold him to me) had him on the same grain everyone else gets, but then thought he might have Cushing's and swapped him out to Carb-Safe while she got him tested for the Cushing's (which he does not have). None of this made an appreciable difference in the manure. She left him on the Carb-Safe because of the risk for EPSM (he's a warmblood). But he really does get fairly little of even that - his diet is mainly hay (total of 5 flakes over two feedings during the day, and 3 flakes in a hay net in his stall at night). I hand-graze him every few days for maybe 10 minutes at a time, and once in a while he gets a carrot or an apple, but that's not even close to an every-day thing.

Could be an ulcer, I suppose - we don't know a lot about his past, but what we do know indicates that he was a GP-level stadium jumper, and maybe an eventer, and he's a bit "hot" and definitely gets worried about his performance. All of that, I think, might point at "ulcer", but I don't know whether 5 days of Flagyl would have made an obvious dent in a problem stemming from an ulcer.

I will ask the vet about a definitive test tomorrow. I can't believe how quickly that drug made a difference. I actually had to ask the stable hand if my boy had been turned out into a paddock that another horse had been in, without having the paddock cleaned. I didn't think for one second that this was the case (the BO is very particular about this kind of thing) but the difference in his droppings was that dramatic.
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