If your cat is infected with the parasite Giardia, Panacur often is the drug of choice for veterinarians. Not only is it safe and effective, it's also inexpensive. Although available over-the-counter, your vet must diagnose Giardia in Kitty and recommend the current dosage to get rid of this protozoa.
Panacur is a brand name of fenbendazole, a broad-spectrum dewormer, or anthelmentic. If you give your cat Panacur to get rid of Giardia, you'll also eliminate any roundworms, hookworms or whipworms lurking inside Kitty, as well as some types of tapeworm. It's safe for use in pregnant or lactating cats. That's especially important so Mama doesn't transfer the parasite to her kittens. Although it's generally well-tolerated, some cats might experience side effects, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Available in tablet, liquid and paste form, it takes an average of three doses to get rid of Giardia.
The protozoan parasites making up Giardia live in an infected host's small intestine. It can affect all types of mammals, including people, as well as birds. Infected animals pass Giardia cysts through their feces, which is how most cats pick up the parasite. About two weeks after infection, symptoms begin occurring. If untreated, Giardia can last for years in a feline, causing gastrointestinal upset while he continues to shed cysts and potentially contaminate animals and people.
Symptoms and Treatment
Giardia's primary symptom is diarrhea, especially very loose feces containing blood or mucus. Affected felines often lose weight or vomit. Kittens are especially vulnerable, since the diarrhea can lead rapidly to dehydration in tiny bodies. To diagnose Giardia, your vet takes a stool sample and tests it via an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. This test confirms the presence of Giardia antigens, but even if the test is negative, your vet still might choose to treat your cat with Panacur since the drug is relatively safe and Giardia can be transferred to people. Even if only one of your cats exhibits Giardia symptoms, you should treat every feline and canine in your household. Many cats infected with the parasite don't show signs, but still can shed cysts. Because Giardia cysts can remain on Kitty's coat after Panacur treatment, you should give him and your other cats a bath. That ought to be fun. If cat bathing is something you can't deal with, take Kitty to a groomer to do the deed.
If you've managed to get rid of Giardia, you want to keep it from coming back. Keep cats indoors, and make sure any new cat or dog entering your household has been treated with Panacur and bathed before becoming part of the menagerie. Keep litter boxes scrupulously clean. Ask your veterinarian about a safe disinfectant to clean areas frequented by your pets.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.