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Staff member
Jan 28, 2009
South Dakota
Contributed by Hedgemom:

Giardia is an intestinal parasite that causes diarrhea and anorexia. In humans it can cause stomach cramps and pain, in addition to diarrhea. The feces will be larger than normal, greasy or shiny looking and will smell. It is readily transmitted between humans and pets.

Most giardia is contracted through contaminated drinking water, food and contact with an infected animal. Symptoms take 7 to 14 days after exposure to show. Veterinary treatment is mandatory. You cannot treat this without prescription medications.

Flagyl is the treatment of choice. It's safe in chinchillas and very effective. You may need to repeat the course, if the infection is severe. Valbazin and Panacur are also prescribed. Both work well.

Supportive care at home is a must. Monitor water intake to prevent dehydration. Encourage drinking by hanging a second water bottle with a few ounces of room temperature herbal mint and chamomile tea (just herbal, not anything with caffeine). Replace daily.

Unsweetened shredded wheat can be offered a few times a day to help keep the fiber up and control diarrhea. Acidophilus (high potency) can be sprinkled on a shreddie once a day to help.

In case of severe diarrhea, a teaspoon of unflavored canned pumpkin can be given daily in small servings to help bind things up.

In order to prevent the spread of the disease, other than quarantine (which should be automatic), sanitation is paramount. Clean everything the animal comes in contact with. Wash fabrics in hot water with bleach and boil anything plastic or metal that can't be washed.

Wooden items should be disposed of or sanded down far enough to get past anything that might have soaked in.

Recovery can take weeks. Be prepared to provide supportive care such as hand feedings. Monitor weight for several weeks afterward to ensure that the animal is doing well.
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