Canine parainfluenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory virus that is commonly spread in social environments such as kennels. Luckily it can be prevented. Today, our Rancho Palos Verdes vets share everything you need to know about parainfluenza in dogs such as the symptoms, causes and how it can be prevented with vaccines.
What is the parainfluenza virus in dogs?
While the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs can be easily confused with those of canine influenza, they are both quite different with different vaccinations and methods of treatment. One thing that both of these conditions have in common is that they are both highly contagious and commonly spread in locations with a large number of dogs.
The parainfluenza virus infection is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, which is more commonly known as kennel cough.
What are the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs?
Here our vets share some of the most common symptoms of dog parainfluenza. The severity or intensity of these symptoms may vary depending on the age of the infected dog and the host's immune system:
- Low-grade fever
- Discharge from the nose
- 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 viral condition that is highly contagious and spread through the air that the dogs breathe. This makes it common among unvaccinated dogs that frequently visit facilities such as the groomers, kennel or play areas.
The parainfluenza virus is related to canine distemper and shares respiratory symptoms, 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. Because of the thick secretions produced by throat irritation, toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia.
Even after your dog has recovered from this virus it can live in the air, potentially infecting other dogs for up to two weeks.
How is dog parainfluenza diagnosed?
When you bring your dog to the vet for diagnosis they will ask you questions about their history and lifestyle. 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 dog that yours has been in contact with could be the cause of your dog's illness and so you should try to offer as much information 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 the diagnostics have confirmed infection and your dog has a diagnosis, your vet will provide a treatment plan to help your dog recover quickly.
How do you treat dog parainfluenza?
Hospitalization is not usually recommended during treatment due to its contagious nature. Your vet may choose to focus on medications and other treatment options such as:
- 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.
What is the parainfluenza dog vaccine?
Yes, there is. At All Pets Veterinary 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 exams to protect them from parainfluenza and a host of other diseases too. You can view our vaccine schedule here.