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What is parainfluenza in dogs?

Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious ribonucleic acid virus that causes respiratory illness in dogs all over the world. Today, our Poway vets lay out the symptoms and causes of parainfluenza in dogs and how to treat it.

What is the parainfluenza virus?

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

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

What are the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs?

The symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus infections are listed below. The severity or intensity of these symptoms may vary depending on the age of the infected dog and the dog's immune system:

  • Coughing: This can be either a dry cough or moist and productive (can include blood)
  • Low-grade fever
  • Discharge from the nose: This can be mucus, pus or even blood
  • Decreased energy
  • Decreased appetite

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

What causes parainfluenza in dogs?

Parainfluenza in dogs is caused by a virus known as the canine parainfluenza virus, which is highly contagious and commonly spread through respiratory secretions. As such, it is a highly contagious disease, particularly among dogs who live or spend time with other dogs.

The parainfluenza virus is related to canine distemper and causes similar respiratory symptoms, including dry, hacking coughs and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. Puppies and older adult canines with weakened immune systems are at higher risk. Toy breeds are more prone to pneumonia due to the thick secretions produced by throat irritation.

Even after the infection has healed, the virus can remain in the air for up to two weeks.

How is parainfluenza diagnosed?

The vet will need a detailed history of your dog from you. The parainfluenza virus is easily transmitted in boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other areas where large numbers of dogs congregate. It is critical that you provide information about your pet's location within 2 to 4 weeks of the first symptoms appearing.

A medical history and vaccination records will be required. Any contact with other canines, regardless of the environment, may be part of the infectious process, so provide as much information as possible.

The veterinarian will perform a physical examination, as well has some diagnostics like blood tests, cultures, and testing of fluid and tissue samples. They may also need to use imaging techniques, such as X-rays, 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.

How do you treat parainfluenza in dogs?

Because the virus is highly contagious to other dogs, your veterinarian is unlikely to recommend hospitalization unless the situation is critical. Instead of hospitalization, your veterinarian may make management recommendations, which most likely include:

  • Recommendations for healthy eating, hygiene, and 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.
  • Antibiotics for severe or chronic cases.
  • Some treatment options may include bronchodilator pretreatment followed by aerosolization treatments.

Is there a vaccine for dog parainfluenza?

Yes, there is. Dogs usually receive the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine between 6 to 8 weeks of age. They get 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 exam to protect them from parainfluenza and a host of other diseases too.

The parainfluenza vaccine for dogs is considered safe and effective, with minimal side effects. However, some dogs may experience mild symptoms such as soreness at the injection site, lethargy, or a slight fever. In extremely rare cases, more severe reactions like allergic reactions or anaphylaxis can occur. If they do, contact your vet or a close-by emergency clinic immediately.

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.

Do you believe your dog is showing symptoms of parainfluenza? Is it time to schedule your dog's annual vaccinations? Contact our Poway vets today to schedule an appointment for your pup.

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