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Parainfluenza in Dogs

Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious virus that causes respiratory illness in dogs. In this post, our Cleveland vets list symptoms pet parents should look out for as well as the causes of parainfluenza in dogs and how it is treated. 

What is parainfluenza in dogs? 

Canine parainfluenza is a highly contagious lung infection that causes tracheobronchitis, also referred to as 'kennel cough'. 

The respiratory symptoms that develop with parainfluenza are similar to those in dogs diagnosed with canine influenza. However, the viruses are significantly different and require different treatments and vaccinations. Both are highly contagious and are often found in areas with dense dog populations, including animal shelters, boarding facilities, and off-leash parks. 

Symptoms of Parainfluenza in Dogs 

While the severity or intensity of symptoms your dog experiences may vary, dogs with parainfluenza typically show one or more of these signs:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Coughing
  • Discharge from the nose (may be pus, mucus, or even blood)
  • Refusal to eat or decreased appetite 
  • Lethargy or sleeping more than usual 

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

Causes of Parainfluenza in Dogs

Parainfluenza is virtual and transmitted through the air dogs breathe. As such, dogs who live or spend time with other dogs are at increased risk for this extremely contagious disease. 

The parainfluenza virus is related to canine distemper and shares respiratory symptoms. A dog suffering from parainfluenza will likely have an inflamed larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. You may notice a hacking cough. Puppies and older pooches with compromised immune systems are also at higher risk. Since throat irritation produces thick secretions, toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia. 

After a dog has recovered from the infection, they can still pass the virus on through the air for up to two weeks. 

Diagnosing Parainfluenza in Dogs 

You'll need to provide details about your dog's recent travel and list the symptoms you've noticed during your appointment with your vet. Because the parainfluenza virus is easily spread in boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other places where a large number of dogs gather, it's critical to provide information about your pooch's whereabouts in the two to four weeks before symptoms began to appear. 

A vaccination history and general health history will also be required. Any contact with other dogs, regardless of the environment in which the contact occurred, may have been the trigger for the infective process, so give as many details 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 for Dog Parainfluenza

Because the virus is highly contagious between dogs, your vet is unlikely to recommend hospitalization 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.

Parainfluenza Dog Vaccine

At Mt. Yonah Animal Hospital, we highly recommend that all dogs receive the DHPP shot (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) between 6 to 8 weeks of age. Then booster shots between 10-12 weeks old, 14-16 weeks old, and 12 months to 16 months old. As your dog moves into adulthood annual vaccinations and routine exams should be scheduled to protect your pup from parainfluenza and a host of other diseases.

Common side effects of the DHPP vaccine are mild and typically short-lived. These may include redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site, in addition to a low-grade fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Most side effects usually resolve within a few days. In rare circumstances, serious long-term health problems and allergic reactions may occur. It is important to contact your vet if you notice any severe or unusual reactions in your dog after they've received the vaccine. 

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 suspect your dog may have parainfluenza? Contact our Cleveland vets right away to schedule an examination.

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