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Parainfluenza in Dogs

Parainfluenza in Dogs

Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is is the cause of respiratory conditions among dogs worldwide. It is very contagious and can quickly infect a group of dogs. Today, our Sacramento vets share some of the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs and how it can be diagnosed, treated and even prevented.

What is Parainfluenza in Dogs?

The respiratory symptoms of parainfluenza are similar to those seen in dogs with canine influenza, but the viruses are very different and require different treatments and vaccinations. Both are highly contagious and are commonly found in areas with dense dog populations, such as dog race tracks, shelters, and kennels.

The parainfluenza virus infection is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as 'kennel cough.'

The symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus in dogs

While the severity of parainfluenza symptoms will vary depending on the host's age, health and viral load, the typical symptoms will be similar for all dogs suffering from the canine parainfluenza virus. These symptoms are:

  • Dry or Moist Cough 
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nasal Discharge
  • Lack of Energy
  • Decreased appetite

Note that the virus can be a component of other canine respiratory diseases, most notably kennel cough, bordetella, and canine adenovirus-2.

Causes and spread of parainfluenza

Parainfluenza is a viral infection that is spread by an airborne virus that dogs breathe in. This makes parainfluenza a highly contagious condition that is easily spread among dogs.

The parainfluenza virus is related to canine distemper and shares respiratory symptoms, including a dry, hacking cough and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. Puppies and older adult canines with compromised immune systems are at higher risk. Because of the thick secretions produced by throat irritation, toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia.

After the infection has healed, the virus can still be picked up in the air for up to two weeks.

Diagnosing parainfluenza in dogs

Parainfluenza in dogs is easily spread through social areas such as kennels and grooming facilities. If your dog is experiencing the symptoms of parainfluenza or any similar condition then your vet will ask for a list of places that your dog may have been at.

A health history and vaccination history will be required. Any contact with other canines, regardless of the environment in which that contact occurred, could be part of the infective process, so provide as much detail as possible.

The veterinarian will perform a physical examination, as well as some diagnostics like blood tests, cultures, and testing of fluid and tissue samples. He may also need to use imaging techniques such as radiography (x-ray) to determine whether there are any masses or parasitic involvement. Once all of the testing results have been received and analyzed, a treatment plan will be developed and implemented.

Treatment options for dogs that have contracted parainfluenza

Due to the highly contagious nature of the canine parainfluenza virus, you should not bring your dog in for hospitalization or other treatments that would require bringing your dog into a public area. In this case, your vet may suggest  the following:

  • Ongoing care for diet, hygiene and in-home nursing care.
  • Recommendations for corrective action for any environmental factors suspected of being contributors.
  • Cough suppressants containing codeine derivatives should be used only for long-term, ineffective cough relief.
  • Severe chronic cases may necessitate antibiotics such as cephalosporins, quinolones, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline.
  • Some treatment options may include bronchodilator pretreatment followed by aerosolization treatments.

Prevention of parainfluenza and similar viruses that can affect dogs

Yes, there is. At Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital, we give dogs the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine between 6 to 8 weeks of age. Then we give boosters between 10-12 weeks old, 14-16 weeks old, and 12 months to 16 months old. After that, it is highly recommended to schedule your dog's annual vaccinations and routine exams to protect them from parainfluenza and a host of other diseases too. You can view our vaccine schedule here.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Does your dog frequently socialize with other dogs? Are you concerned that they may be exposed to the parainfluenza virus? Contact our Sacramento vets today to schedule an appointment for your pup.

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