Parasites are a big deal in the dog world. They are a big deal with people and other animals too, but I am going to just focus on dogs and even more specifically, on giardia.

Giardia is a parasite that is transferred through feces as the parasite lives in the intestine and is excreted through bowl movements. Most of the time, the feces isn’t necessarily being “consumed” directly, but it is being washed into drinking water. For instance, let’s say a wild animal, such as a raccoon or a deer go to the bathroom near the edge of a stream that they frequent for water. Then, it rains…that feces is now washed into the stream that runs into the creek that runs behind your house which is what your animals drink out of, occasionally. If that wild animal happened to be infected with giardia, bam! Your sweet rover now has it too. Giardia really likes the cool, wet climate that water provides, so that is generally the hiding place of this nasty little worm. Giardia can also be contracted by dogs who spend a lot of time in kennels with other dogs. In this environment, it can be passed very easily from one pet to another.

Statistics say that at least fifty-percent of puppies will contract giardia. This is a pretty alarming number and it reminds me how important it is to make sure that the immune system is kept strong, the intestinal tract is kept clean, and that all of your water sources are kept cleaned out and changed on a regular basis. IF you find yourself with a positive test for giardia, or other intestinal parasite, there are natural solutions to this issue:

Pumpkin seeds: raw, organic pumpkin seeds can be used to prevent and expel parasites from your pet. You can grind them up and mix them with food, or you can give them as a treat. I have found that most of my dogs will not eat them, when given as a treat, but they have no problem consuming them when mixed with their food.

Diatomaceous Earth, or DE: I have been using DE for years for all of my animals. I have even mixed it in water and consumed it myself when I felt that my intestines needed a good cleaning. There are two types of DE; there is DE that is used in swimming pool cleaning and maintenance and then there is “food grade” DE. It stands to reason that if you are going to be “feeding” this to any living thing that you need the “food grade” kind. This can be found at most feed stores and even some pet stores. At feed stores, you can get them in fifty pound bags where at pet stores, they sell it in much lesser quantities. Personally, I get the large sacks of it as I add it to all of my water troughs for the horses, goats, chickens, and ducks. This keep the parasites at bay, during the summer, when standing water can grow all sorts of unwanted things. Anyway, you can add a little bit to your pets water bowls or sprinkle a small amount in their food (up to a teaspoon for smaller dogs and up to a Tablespoon for dogs over sixty pounds). It can also be used as a flea killer by sprinkling it on their fur. They won’t feel very soft and cuddly for a few days, but the fleas will indeed die!

Oregon Grape: this works best as a tincture and can be added directly to their food. It can be a bit stronger than the other two mentioned options, so use caution. I would use no more than ten drops per twenty-five pounds and never use in dogs with liver disease or pregnant dogs.

Black Walnut: this can be a very effective de-wormer but it can also be very toxic if used it too large amounts. I would use this only under the supervision of a holistic veterinarian so that you can get exact quantities for your specific pet.

Garlic: garlic has been known for years to repel pests. This is why I tend to consume a lot of garlic during the keep the mosquitoes at bay. Now, while many sites state that garlic is safe to give to your dog, I would like to add a personal disclaimer to this: I was told, by my holistic vet, not to give garlic to my dogs. While small amounts can be “okay”, large quantities can be down right toxic to your dog. I have not used it since.

Parasites can be real issues that can cause many short term and long term health problems in your dogs. If you have several dogs, it can wreak havoc because they are so transmittable. Keeping your pets up to date on parasite testing is very important, for you as well as for your fur babies. Prevention is much easier than trying to fix a problem that is already there, like with most other things. If you suspect a parasite infestation, I recommend that you get advise from your local veterinarian…holistic, if possible.

Many blessings to you and your four-legged-love ~ Tammy

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