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Parainfluenza in Dogs

Parainfluenza in Dogs

Parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious ribonucleic acid virus that can infect dogs and cause respiratory illness. In this post, our Benton vets explain the symptoms and causes of parainfluenza in canines and how it is treated.

What is the parainfluenza virus?

The parainfluenza virus is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as 'kennel cough.' It causes respiratory symptoms in humans; when a dog is infected with this virus, their symptoms are similar, but treatment and vaccinations are very different.

Parainfluenza is commonly found in areas with high dog populations, such as dog race tracks, shelters, and kennels.

What are the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs?

Here are some of the symptoms of the parainfluenza virus in dogs:

  • 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 viral and transmitted through the air. This makes the virus highly contagious, especially for dogs that live with other canines or spend a lot of time with other dogs, such as in a doggy daycare.

This condition causes mainly respiratory distress 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 if they contract the parainfluenza virus. Because of the thick secretions produced by throat irritation, toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia.

How is parainfluenza diagnosed?

When taking your dog in to the vet to treat parainfluenza, it is critical to provide the vet a detailed account of your pet's whereabouts within 2 to 4 weeks of the first symptoms appearing in your family pet.

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 has 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.

How do you treat parainfluenza in dogs?

Your vet will likely only recommend hospitalization of your pet in a very severe case of the parainfluenza virus. Other management and at-home treatment recommendations might 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?

There is a vaccine for parainfluenza in dogs. The DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine can be administered to dogs between 6 to 8 weeks of age, followed by booster shots at 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.

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

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