What is parainfluenza in dogs?

What is parainfluenza in dogs?

CPIV is a global virus that affects dogs and leads to breathing problems. Our veterinarians in Novato will guide you through the signs, reasons, and how to treat parainfluenza in dogs. 

What is the parainfluenza virus?

Dogs with parainfluenza show respiratory symptoms like those of canine influenza. However, these viruses are different and require separate treatments and vaccinations. Both viruses are easily spread and common in places with lots of dogs, like kennels, shelters, and dog racing tracks. 

Parainfluenza virus infection is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can lead to kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis. 

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 host'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 is a contagious virus that mainly affects dogs. It spreads through the air and easily passes from dog to dog, especially when they spend time together. 

Dogs with parainfluenza often show similar symptoms to canine distemper, including a dry cough and inflammation in their throat, bronchial tubes, and trachea. Puppies and older dogs with weaker immune systems are more likely to get sick. Small dog breeds are also more prone to developing pneumonia due to thick mucus caused by throat irritation.

Even after a dog recovers from parainfluenza, the virus can stay in the air for up to two weeks. 

How is parainfluenza diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will ask for a detailed history, including your pet's whereabouts, within 2 to 4 weeks of the first symptoms. The parainfluenza virus spreads quickly in places like boarding kennels and grooming salons where many dogs congregate.

You will also need to provide your pet's health and vaccination history, as any contact with other dogs, regardless of the environment, can contribute to the infection.

The vet will conduct a physical exam and may perform blood tests, cultures, and fluid and tissue sample testing to diagnose the infection. They may also use imaging techniques like X-rays to check for masses or parasites. The vet will create and implement a treatment plan based on the results. 

How do you treat parainfluenza in dogs?

Since the virus spreads easily to other dogs, your vet probably won't suggest hospitalization unless it's really necessary. Instead, your vet might give you guidance on how to manage the situation. This will likely involve: 

  • 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?

Yes, at Novato, we provide the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine to puppies aged 6 to 8 weeks old. Boosters are given at 10-12 weeks, 14-16 weeks, and 12-16 months old. It is recommended to schedule annual vaccinations and routine exams to protect your dog from parainfluenza and other diseases. You can find our vaccine schedule here.

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