Discover the ins and outs of parainfluenza in dogs as our veterinarians from Burlington and Bellingham explain the symptoms, causes, and treatment of this highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV).
What is the parainfluenza virus?
Parainfluenza is a contagious lung infection in dogs that causes symptoms similar to canine influenza. However, the viruses responsible for each infection are distinct and require different treatments and vaccinations. These infections are commonly found in places with many dogs, like race tracks, shelters, and kennels. Parainfluenza can lead to a condition called "kennel cough," characterized by infectious tracheobronchitis.
What are the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs?
Here are the symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus infections. The intensity of these symptoms may differ based on the dog's age and the strength of their 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 is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads through the air when dogs breathe. It is particularly risky for dogs who live or spend time with other dogs.
The virus is similar to canine distemper and causes respiratory symptoms like a dry cough and inflammation in the throat, bronchial tubes, and trachea.
Puppies and older dogs with weak immune systems are more vulnerable to the disease. Toy breeds are also more prone to developing pneumonia due to the thick secretions caused by throat irritation.
It's important to note that the virus can remain in the air for up to two weeks even after recovering from the infection.
How is parainfluenza diagnosed?
To help your vet make an accurate diagnosis and create a treatment plan, they will ask for a detailed history of your pet's health. The parainfluenza virus spreads easily in places like boarding kennels, grooming salons, and places where many dogs gather.
It's important to provide information about where your pet has been in the 2 to 4 weeks leading up to the first signs of illness.
Your pet's health and vaccination records will be needed. Any interaction your pet has had with other dogs, regardless of the setting, could contribute to the infection, so please provide as much information as possible.
The vet will conduct a physical examination and may also perform additional tests like blood tests, cultures, and analysis of fluid and tissue samples.
They may also use imaging techniques like X-rays to check for masses or parasites. Once all the test results are available and reviewed, a treatment plan will be developed and put into action.
How do you treat parainfluenza in dogs?
Your vet is unlikely to recommend hospitalization because the virus is highly contagious to other canines unless the situation is dire. In lieu of hospitalization, your veterinarian may make management recommendations, which will 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.
- Severe chronic cases may necessitate antibiotics such as cephalosporins, quinolones, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline; the appropriate antibiotic medication will most likely be chosen based on the results of the cultures taken and analyzed.
- Some treatment options may include bronchodilator pretreatment followed by aerosolization treatments.
Is there a vaccine for dog parainfluenza?
Here at Chuckanut Valley Vet Clinic and Chuckanut Feline Center, we provide the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine to dogs when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. We also give booster shots at 10-12 weeks, 14-16 weeks, and 12-16 months of age. It's highly recommended to schedule your dog's yearly vaccinations and routine check-up to safeguard them from parainfluenza and various other diseases. You can find our vaccine schedule by visiting this link