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Puppies with Giardia - I'm the breeder, now what to do...

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  • Puppies with Giardia - I'm the breeder, now what to do...

    Ok, i'm just looking for some thoughts on this. What you would expect from your breeder, etc... This will be long, i apologize in advance, but i would love more opinions.

    For those that dont know, Giardia is an intestinal bug, viral, passes easily to others, lives in contaminated water, but spread by birds and thrives in wet conditions and damp soil. For an adult dog, if they are fed well, not stressed, have a good imune system, their body deals with this bug and eventually it goes away, same for humans. In a puppy, it can cause diarhea and eventually death by dehydration if not treated. Giardia can be picky, it can hit one pup and no one else, or it could hit everyone.

    I'm a dog breeder. I have 7 adults, we show, i enjoy doing it. I breed a couple litters a year, striving for that perfect show dog to keep for myself, but usually they all sell to wonderful pet homes and we've met a lot of neat people along the way. I like what i do. Our dogs sell in the $600-1000 range for pets.

    I had a litter of pups born first of April. Nice healthy litter. We deworm 2,4,6,and 8 weeks, our pups have an initial check up within their first week and then a check up at 7 weeks-ish to clear them to go to their new homes. We guarantee our puppies for 3 business days and ask for buyers to get their first puppy exam in that time frame. We then guarantee them for genetic defects (hips/eyes) for a year.

    My pups grow up on a raw diet. I do not require my puppy buyers to continue with raw, as i know for some it just isnt a real viable option and there are plenty of really good kibble feeding homes that i wont deny selling a pup to.

    So here's the story.

    My pups were doing great. At 6 weeks i fostered a pup for 3 days. This pup was in good health but really in shock from getting shoved here. I let him play with my other pups, it helps him calm down. This was VERY stupid of me. Stupid to even take in this pup frankly, and unfortunately, i wont be helpful again. Bad as that sounds.

    This pup went to his new home and 3 days later was diagnosed with Giardia and had a fairly rough go at recovery. He had hook worms pretty badly which we think is why he was so open to the Giardia dragging him down. He recovered fine.

    Giardia has a 9-15 day incubation period. This pup did not pick it up from me, but i felt bad for the new owner, so i helped him out with his vet bill. No fun to get a new puppy and it get sick!

    I was concerned about our puppies, so i took them into our vet, had them checked, of course, Giardia is very hard to find in a fecal and we found no trace, but vet put us on 5 days of metronidizole as a preventative. I bleached my kennels and treated all of my adult dogs. However, my dogs get out to play in the dog yard twice a day for a couple hours, i could not bleach the grass.

    Pups were doing fine, no issues, passed their vet check to leave, first two pups left... 4 days later, they get sick, confirmed Giardia. We had informed our buyers that we had a giardia positive dog here and had done preventative treatment just in case. So they already knew it came from here. Of course, i felt bad, and i paid their vet bill. Their pups recovered in a couple days. Those two pups went to a kibble feeding home, we tell them to feed a little raw to change the diet until they are on all kibble, but i do not know what they did.

    I mention the diet because the other two pups that left in this time frame went to raw feeding homes and did not get sick at all. (Though could have just been that the giardia did not hit them but hit the others.)

    I had 3 pups left here and i took them to the vet again to have fecals checked, again, we found nothing, and our pups were acting completely normal with firm poops. But the vet did 3 days of panacur and 10 days of metronidizole for prevention. We bleached everything down again and i also put my adults on 5 days of metronidizole again. Knowing the only way i was going to get rid of it was to treat everyone here at the same time.

    2 pups then went to the same home, a non-raw feeding home. 4 days later they get sick. Confirmed Giardia. Again, i feel bad and pay their vet bill. 7 days later, pups get worse and start vomitting. They were admitted for a day at the vet, on fluids, more meds, cernia injections for anti-vommiting (which i'm upset about as they shouldnt get that until 16 weeks as it can cause liver damage in a younger pup) and on medicated food. Pups are doing better. But this is now a $360 bill and the buyer wants me to pay, since i was nice and paid the $200 one the week before...

    Last pup went to his new home, a raw feeding home, he has been just fine.

    So - To breeders since i know many are here, what would you do? Would you cover this aditional vet bill too?

    To dog buyers - If you bought a puppy and it got sick with an intestinal bug, what would you require of your breeder?

    I dont sell puppies to make money, i breed for my next show dog. Frankly, with my two litters this year and all vet bills incurred, i'm WAY negative digits here and my husband is losing his job in Oct. So this is why i'm hesitant to pay yet another vet bill. I also dont want to be labeled as a bad breeder by this buyer and have my name smeared all over the internet as such either though. I'm so torn.

    My GSD breeder friend (who's been breeding 37yrs) thinks i'm nuts for paying for a vet bill for an intestinal bug, she equates it to worms and i wouldnt pay a vet bill for worms since i have record of treating them as much as i can safely treat them. Some are just resistant suckers. She also mentions that if the buyers didnt swap the food to kibble gradually they could have lowered the immune system so low that between food change and stress of relocation let a low grade giardia bug thrive and go bonkers, which has nothing to do with me. And on that, she's right. But how do i tell a buyer that? Especially after i already paid for their first bill.

    I am worried about these two pups. This is now the 4th time they've been on drugs for many days, from metronidizole, panacur, and albon and then getting pumped up with Cerenia at too young an age. I do not want to be held liable for liver failure or dead puppies.

    That and holy heck they must use the most expensive vet in their town, my vet looked at their bills and muttered something about price gouging, and here i thought MY vet was expensive!

    A very frustrated and sad dog breeder.
    Your Horse's Home On The Road!

  • #2
    When I bred cats, the way I dealt with the "i'll pay your vet bills ... holy HELL does your vet have gold-lined sinks?!" was that I would pay the bills ... at /my/ vet. I once had a particular kitten come back twice for persistent loose stools... I took him to my vet, paid the bills, got him stable, and he and his owners were happy.

    Of course this is trickier if your buyers live some distance away from you.
    Originally posted by HuntrJumpr
    No matter what level of showing you're doing, you are required to have pants on.


    • Original Poster

      Yes, this buyer is 6hrs away... Cant really get them to my vet!
      Your Horse's Home On The Road!


      • #4
        No telling, because in cases like yours, there are too many sides to the story.

        Many years ago, I got a puppy from a very good dobie breeder, that happened to also be a human doctor.
        The puppy got here sick, giardia diagnosed and she pulled thru fine.

        The breeder never offered to pay, also said it didn't come from him, had a few words with our veterinarian about it, because obviously incubation time for giardia indicated the puppy was infected while still in the breeder's kennels.
        The dog also had wobblers later and the breeder didn't want to hear about that either.
        Our vet was not impressed with that breeder.

        Who knows, maybe that was as good a breeder as his reputation, but sometimes, stuff just happens.

        I think it was nice of you to pay some of the bills.
        Once you have started that, of course they expect you to keep it up until the puppies are ok.

        You could try explaining that your guarantees are over after this, other than the ones specified in the contract already.


        • #5
          First off, your GSD breeder friend is correct, Giardia are more 'worms' than 'virus,' as they are a protozoa. So if your warrenty doesn't cover intestinal parasites you are not under any obligation to cover the treatment of giardia. As a member of the veterinary field had you helped out with the first bill I would have advised my client that you were very generous and they shouldn't push their luck(if of course they actually told me about it!)

          Giardia on it's own has to be pretty darn severe to cause more than diarrhea, so with the fact the pups had been on a round of metro and then were vomiting etc. I would be suspicious that something else had contribuited to it. And quite frankly if you get a new pup, even if the breeder had it only on horse poop you should transition gradually to a better food. So again, I agree with your friend, stress and a new diet have very much contributed to the issue at hand.

          Personally, since I would assume your warrenty on your pups doesn't include intestinal parasites I would just tell the new owners that you appreciate them letting you know how the little guy is doing, and to please keep you updated. And I hope that my paying the first bill helped them to afford paying this on. If they totally blow thier gasket over it they may not be the type of poeple you thought they were.

          Vet Tech

          P.S. While I do like raw diets, they are not always the best for young puppies, as their diegstive tracts are not as devolped and they are more suspectable to infections in general, including Toxoplasmosis and Salmonella. Also if using a homemade diet as opposed to prepackaged raw foods please be sure that the diet is balanced for growing puppies, as some of their vitamin and mineral requirements are different than that of adults.
          You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!


          • #6
            First, giardia is not a virus. It's a parasite. As you have found, it can be very difficult to confirm and get rid of due to its life cycle (which includes an encysted stage). Typical treatment includes metronidazole and fenbendazole for dogs. In humans, the treatments last many weeks and treating too lightly can drive the parasite "underground" to resurface at a later date. I'm not sure if this can happen in dogs, but it sure seems as if it would be possible. It's true the immune system may also play a role, but not in a necessarily good way... it allows the body to adapt to giardia and so doesn't help to eradicate the parasite totally.

            But that's all kind of beside the point. You have a policy for guarantee. It does not offer vet bills. You were nice to pay as much as you did, but are under no further obligation. I can understand you are worried about the pups that are still sick, but if you can't stress yourself further financially there's really nothing to be done but hope their owners do the best they can in providing them with continuing treatment.

            I bought a very nice rottie pup I knew had been hospitalized at a very young age for a vaccine reaction. His breeder absorbed those bills, but once he was mine I would never have dreamed of asking for more help with vet bills (even for the same problem - which had been fully disclosed). If the breeder had offered financial help with further bills, I would likely have refused. But if I had taken the help, I would never have asked for more! To me, once an animal comes home it is my sole responsibility.
            Patience pays.


            • Original Poster

              I guess i meant giardia being "viral" in the fact that it spreads from dog to dog, but is really parasitic. My vet considers it more "viral" in that we treat everyone when one is found with it to get rid of it. I have seen what it looks like under the scope, it is absolutely a parasite!

              I do need to modify my contract to not cover parasites i think! As it is now, it doesnt specify anything after 3 business days, which the first vet bill did fall under as they picked their pups up on a Sat, got sick 4 days later.

              HOWEVER, i did talk with the buyers vet at length, and it seems to just be persistant giardia and i did offer to "help" the buyers if it was still giardia related... But i just dont know what all i want to cover and how to say no to the other stuff. I'm kinda stuck. They were tested for parvo due to the vomitting, i'm not covering that test since that has nothing to do with me, that knocks it down $100.

              I dont agree that they were given the Cerenia shots at this age, and vomitting again is not related to the giardia, so i dont know if i want to pay for those, that brings it down another $50.

              I "think" they've been honest with me on their care/treatment and i did "vet" them out well before they bought, at least i thought i did, but you know how that goes. I am glad they are at least taking them to the vet to fix a problem!

              It's all frustrating.

              Yes, i know there is a lot of speculation and discussion about raw diets period, regardless of dog age. However, we've fed it for years, i've brought dogs out of un-healthy/weird illness/even joint/lame situations by feeding a raw diet alone. I know breeders overseas that have never seen a bag of kibble and they've NEVER had the issues our US kibble fed dogs have come down with. So for us, it's our choice and it has served us very well. We do use a multivitamin on our pups as well as feed some raw fruits/veggies and greek yogurt (though i do not feed as many fruits/veggies as some raw feeders do). Our dogs eat the bones/marrow as well, i think that is the key to a successful raw diet. Ground bones for pups. I tried holistic kibbles, really expensive ones, well known names, nothing has compared. I was generating loads of poop from them passing everything their body wasnt using out of it. Vs their raw diets that produce very little poop that turns to chalk in 24hrs... Kibble would be easier! But not cheaper or as healthy in our oppinion, no matter what the brand from our experience, i tried Canidae last year for 4 months on a couple dogs, nasty poops all 4 months, tried Call of the Wild, poops smelled so disgusting it made me gag, i only made it 2 months on that food, there was another one "California" something or similar, it was nasty poop too. I rate things on how nasty the poop is... LOL
              Your Horse's Home On The Road!


              • #8
                HOLY ^(&*!!!! $100 for a parvo test?!?!?! If you really want to be nice and help out I would ask them for a copy of the invoice, and have youre vet give you a price had he done all the same treatments(minus the cerenia since you wouldn't have done it). Then you can re-pay as you see fit based on what your vet would charge you had you treated it.

                And please understand, I am not trying to fault you for feeding raw. I really understand the logic and beliefs behind it. I only pointed that out because a lot of our clients feel the same, and we have seen a couple large breed puppies that have devolped problems due to a homemade raw diet that was incorrectly balanced. We had them switch to a prepared raw diet and the issues resolved.

                Vet Tech
                You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!


                • #9
                  I'd get the vet bill, cover anything due to the parasite and that be IT. It's still helping, they shouldn't complain about you helping out. Take the high road and let it be known the warranty period is done. (nicely and diplomatically of course)

                  That's what I would do.
                  Fresh, Frozen & ISO Warmblood Breedings FB Group


                  • Original Poster

                    I have the vet bill right here. There are two pups, it's $49 PER test, so technically speaking it's $98 not $100...

                    The re-check/exam fee is $32 x 2
                    Fluids $28 x 2
                    Cerenia injections $23.40 x 2
                    One pup got a RCVD Canine Intestinal HE 7# for $20.95 (i dont know what that is, i'm thinking a probiotic?)
                    Albon Liquid $17.75
                    Metronidizole $23.00
                    Parvo Test $49 x 2
                    30 cans of medicated food $35

                    If you want to get specific, the only thing i can prove as giardia related (and not caused by whatever the vomitting had to do with) is the Metronidizole.

                    NO fecal was done this visit, so we cant really even prove it's still even the giardia, but that was the vet's "guess" when i talked with her. They put them on Albon just in case it is coccidia too that hasnt shown up (the other sick pups did not find coccidia, i've never had it here that i know of).

                    So would you just pay for the metronidizole? Maybe split the exam fee and the fluids because it might have been giardia related but could also have pushed them over the scales from whatever was making them vomit?

                    I know i'm going to sound like a total *$#@ when i talk with the buyers if i get technical like this... Sigh.
                    Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                    • #11
                      Sorry OP, but I'd expect the breeder to cover the bill. The pups were exposed/infected at the breeder's.


                      • #12
                        When I got my puppy I took her to my vet. She wasn't sick at all but tested positive for Giardia. Vet gave some medicine and she was fine. I don't remember it being that expensive. I paid for it myself.
                        She wasn't running away with me, I just couldn't stop her!


                        • Original Poster

                          this second vet visit is 10 days after the dogs left me, and no tests were done to prove it is still Giardia and they are vomitting which is NOT a symptom of Giardia...

                          So for all i know, they could have licked up some floor cleaning solution, got sick, went to the vet, they didnt know this or didnt disclose this to the vet, vet thought maybe parvo from the vomitting, tested for it, negative... Thinks maybe coccidia, but doesnt test for it cause it might not want to show itself anyway, treats for it with Albon just in case, and hits them again with metronidizole just in case it might still be giardia... and puts them on fluids for the day to get them rehydrated... But really, i know nothing definate from talking to the vet and reading their bill (and i talked with this vet the day they went in, and yes, she confirmed she wasnt sure if there was more going on, but treated for giardia again and it "could" still be that, but the vomitting left her wondering).

                          So how long do you expect your breeder to keep paying for something you cant prove is a problem they came with?

                          I'm not really arguing, i just wonder so i can feel better about what i'm going to say to them.
                          Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                          • #14
                            I've had two puppies come from the breeder with Giardia. I had no expectation that the breeder would pay for anything. It's certainly wasn't a big deal to treat and, while messy, didn't make me angry with the breeder in any way. It's a parasite for cripe's sake! My puppies came from a very reputable breeder (and one that I've gotten several very nice puppies from through the years).

                            I think you're being very nice to offer to pay, but I think that's going above and beyond your call of duty (or in shorter terms, I agree with your friend and think you're nuts for paying too! ).
                            Flying F Sport Horses
                            Horses in the NW


                            • #15
                              Many years ago I sold some Basset Hound puppies. (Mom came to me already bred. Long story.) Pups were dewormed and current on shots when they left. One lady called and said her puppy was sick and she was at the vet's office. She expected me to cover the bill. The pup had been in her home two weeks. I called her vet and told the puppy owner I would be happy to refund her money and would be right there to get the puppy to take it to my vet. I never heard from the lady again. I wasn't about to cover a bill that probably was caused by something that had happened after the puppy left my place. But I certainly would have taken the puppy back and had my vet do whatever was needed. I would not expect you to pay any bills as a puppy buyer. You have done enough.


                              • Original Poster

                                I myself wouldnt bother a breeder with selling me a giardia pup either. But as a breeder, i know that parasites are everywhere and puppies are parasite magnets.

                                But i have had really wacko reactions from buyers recently, and i do understand the other side, i really do, which is why i'm trying to pay and be a good person here.

                                I do really like the idea of telling people it's my vet only though. Might get tricky for my out of state buyers however.

                                I've been so depressed about this, i'm about ready to give up breeding no matter how much i love it. It hasnt been kind to me this year! But i know it's all part of the game.
                                Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                                • #17
                                  If I paid in the hundreds of dollars for a pure-bred puppy from a reputable breeder, and from the moment I got it the puppy was sick with vomiting and diarrhea, I would expect the breeder to pay all the bills, absolutely. The reason for buying from a reputable breeder is the assurance you are getting a sound, healthy dog.

                                  Puppies that come with vomiting and diarrhea make me seriously question the environment they came from. I'd be bending over backwards making sure the puppies were healthy BEFORE selling them.
                                  I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


                                  • #18
                                    Now that I see the breakdown the prices seem much more reasonable lol.

                                    OK, so here's how I would see it. I would pay for recheck exam, metro, fluids and EITHER the canned food OR the RCVD Intestinal Health 7#, because they are both types the same diet, no reason the pup needs both really, unless the client just insisted. Typically sick pups will be sent home with canned food because the added water will help account for losses with dehydration.

                                    Albon, Parvo test, cerenia and the other food type? sorry that's on them, those were elective services and likely not needed because of the giardia, which is what you are warrenting, albeit unintentionally. And as part of that bargan I would request either a longer course of metronidazole(10 days) or a longer course of panacur, since this particualr strain of giardia seems resistant. Since there wasn't a fecal done again it's impossible to say if that is the case, but the longer courses of those meds are very safe, even for young pups, and it will clear you from all responsibilities IRT the giardia.

                                    Oh, and RCVD stands for Royal Canin Veterinary Diet, and Intestinal health, well duh. ;o)

                                    Vet Tech

                                    You're also not the only breeder I know who's ready to quit thanks to a couple bad buyers. Hope all the good ones don't quit!
                                    You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!


                                    • #19
                                      Well, from a buyer's point of view, yes, when it is proven that the pup was infected at time of purchase, I would expect the breeder to cover the vet bills related to the issue.

                                      In '91, I bought a lab pup from a reputable lab breeder (my friends had bought a lab from her and was quite happy). We picked up our pup on Saturday (was not the pup we had chosen because he had gotten sick - should have seen the red flag!). Went to the vet on Monday to have him checked out. She felt he was fine, but a bit lethargic for a puppy. Told me to be alert for any sign, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. Sure enough, on Tuesday, he was vomiting food/water and had bloody diarrhea. Took him to the vet who put him on IV right away. Called the breeder also. Breeder had given me the name and number of another pup buyer who lived a couple of blocks from me. I called them as well to let them know. Next day, that pup got sick.

                                      My vet was very aggressive and kept the pup on IV night and day, the other vet did not. The breeder wanted me to return the pup and I did not want to have the pup off IV for the two hours it would have taken me to drive back to the breeder's. Both pups, and 3 others of the same litter, had parvo. My pup made it and lived to 12 years of age without any other health issue. The other pup and 3 others died.

                                      The breeder agreed to pay my vet bill (even though she said her vet would have been cheaper). It took a few months for me to get a total refund, but I did get it.

                                      My next dog was a rescue and so was the next one. Somehow, I should have know when I found out the dam's name was "Trouble". But I felt strongly that the breeder was responsible for selling me a sick dog and she should pay most of the vet bill.


                                      • #20
                                        I just bought a puppy at the beginning of May, a Corgi from a reputable breeder. The breeder gave a health guarantee for 48 hours that covered everything but internal parasites. Long story short, I took the puppy to my vet for a health check the next day. Did a fecal, and it came back that the puppy had worms. No big deal on my end, got the medicine and at the next check up all was clear. My pup never had any issues, no soft stool, no other illness. Having worked for a vet most of the puppies that came in had some sort of internal parasite.