The giardia vaccine may be administered in dogs, to prevent the occurrence of this intestinal parasite. This is not a core vaccine, but should be considered, especially if your pet is exposed to a dangerous environment and infested water.
Giardia in Dogs
The infestation with giardia in dogs is becoming more and more common and it is estimated that up to 10% of adult dogs are affected by the parasite, while over 50% of puppies may get infected as well.
The infection is more common in households with multiple pets or in kennels, as the infection can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected pet and infested feces. The parasite may be contracted from infested water or food, which may contain the giardia cyst.
The giardia cysts have a complex life cycle and will cause the inflammation of intestines and the following symptoms:
- Chronic vomiting
- Chronic diarrhea and the stool will have a foul odor and a light color; in some cases, there may be mucus in the stool
- Weight loss
The cysts will multiply and interfere with normal digestion, so the dog may suffer from anemia as well as a poor coat and skin condition.
In time, the parasites will weaken the dogâs immune system and this will lead to secondary infections and a weak overall health condition. The infection will be more severe in puppies that already have a weak immune system. Puppies are prone to contracting other intestinal parasites and this can often be deadly, as the dog will have severe diarrhea and will get dehydrated.
In adult dogs, the infection will not cause severe symptoms and the parasites may often be shed within a few weeks. However, these dogs are carriers of the giardia cysts and present a risk for other canines.
Dogs with a weak immune system may be also severely affected by the giardia infection.
The Giardia Vaccine
The giardia vaccine is available and may be administered in puppies over the age of 6 weeks. The giardia vaccine contains inactive giardia organisms. The vaccine can prevent the occurrence of the infection.
The vaccine may also be administered in pets that are already affected by giardia, as the vaccine can strengthen the immune system and help the pet fight off the infection. In addition, dogs infested with giardia that get the vaccine will have less severe symptoms (only a softer stool) and will also shed fewer giardia organisms.
The vaccine is recommended by vets to most dogs that are prone to getting the giardia infection.
Vaccine Side Effects
As with any vaccines, the giardia vaccine may have side effects such as:
Rashes after the administration of the vaccine
- Swelling at the injection site
- Autoimmune diseases, if the dog gets too many vaccines
- The administration of many vaccines has also been associated with tumors developing at the injection site.
Consequently, the vaccine should only be administered if the dog is exposed to giardia cysts.