Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) causes respiratory illness in dogs worldwide. Our Fremont vets list the symptoms of this highly contagious ribonucleic acid virus, explain the causes of parainfluenza in dogs and discuss how to treat it.
What is Parainfluenza in Dogs?
Parainfluenza causes respiratory symptoms similar to those in dogs with canine influenza. However, these viruses are very different and will need to be addressed with different treatments and vaccinations.
Each of these viruses is highly contagious and commonly found in areas where the dog population is dense, suck as kennels, dog race tracks and shelters.
A parainfluenza virus infection is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can cause kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis).
What are the symptoms of parainfluenza?
The severity or intensity of symptoms dogs with canine parainfluenza virus infections may experience can vary depending on the dog's age and whether they have a healthy immune system. These symptoms can include:
- Decreased appetite
- Coughing (moist or dry cough and productive - may contain blood)
- Discharge from nose (mucus, blood or pus)
- Low-grade fever
- Decreased energy
The virus itself can be a component of other canine respiratory diseases, most notably bordetella, kennel cough and canine adenovirus-2.
What causes parainfluenza in dogs?
Parainfluenza is transmitted through the air dogs breathe. This viral and very contagious disease is related to canine distemper and shares respiratory symptoms with that condition, including inflammation of the bronchial tubes, larynx and trachea as well as a dry, hacking cough. Puppies and older adult dogs with compromised immune systems are at higher risk. Toy breeds are more vulnerable to pneumonia due to thick secretions produced by throat irritation.
After the infection has healed, the virus can still be picked up in the air for up to two weeks.
How is parainfluenza diagnosed?
The vet will require a detailed history from you. The parainfluenza virus is easily spread in boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other places where a large number of dogs congregate. It is critical to provide information about 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?
Because the virus is highly contagious to other canines, 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.
Is there a vaccine for dog parainfluenza?
Yes, there is. At Ace Animal Hospital, we give dogs the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine between 6 to 8 weeks of age. Then we give 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.
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.