Veterinary parasitology

Control of Giardia infections with ronidazole and intensive hygiene management in a dog kennel.

PMID 22240238


Infections with the intestinal protozoan parasite Giardia in dogs and cats are common. Clinical signs vary from asymptomatic to small bowel diarrhea and associated discomfort. The control of infections in dogs is frequently a frustrating issue for animal owners and veterinarians. Drugs with antiprotozoal activity such as fenbendazole and metronidazole are recommended, however, they do not show 100% efficacy and superinfections occur regularly. Ronidazole is currently the drug of choice for the treatment of Tritrichomonas foetus in cats and there is now limited information available about its efficacy against Giardia spp. In the kennel investigated, dogs regularly showed loose feces and the presence of Giardia (assemblage C, renamed as G. canis) cysts. An elimination strategy of this parasite involving strict hygiene management and disinfection of the enclosures with 4-chlorine-M-cresol, oral treatment with ronidazole (30-50mg/kg BW bid for 7 days) and two shampooings (containing chlorhexidine) at the beginning and the end of the treatments was implemented for a group of 6 dogs. As a control another group of 7 dogs was transferred to the disinfected enclosures and shampooed, but left untreated. Dog feces were tested for the presence of Giardia cysts (SAF concentration technique) or Giardia antigen with a commercial ELISA (NOVITEC(®)) and a quick immunochromatography-based test (SensPERT(®)) before and between 5 and 40 days after the last treatment. All ronidazole-treated dogs were negative for Giardia cysts and antigen up to 26 days after the last treatment, while between 1 and 5 of the control animals tested positive in each of the test series. At this point, also dogs of the control group were again moved into clean enclosures, shampooed twice and treated with ronidazole. Five, 12 and 19 days after the last treatment, the dogs in the control group tested negative for Giardia cysts and antigen. However, all animals had again positive results at later time points in at least one of the three applied diagnostic techniques within 33-61 days after treatment. Furthermore, all dogs had episodes of diarrhea (for 1-4 days) within 14-31 days after treatment and unformed feces during the whole experiment. The positive effect of ronidazole against Giardia infections in dogs could be confirmed in this study. In particular, the combination of ronidazole treatment combined with the disinfection of the environment and shampooing of the dogs was highly effective in reducing Giardia cyst excretion and may therefore constitute an alternative control strategy for canine giardiosis.