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What is parainfluenza in dogs?

Our veterinarians in North Providence are available to provide information on canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV), a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects dogs globally. It is crucial to be aware of the symptoms, causes, and treatment of parainfluenza in dogs.

What is the parainfluenza virus?

Parainfluenza is a viral infection that causes respiratory symptoms in dogs, akin to canine influenza. However, they necessitate distinct treatments and vaccinations. Both are highly contagious and prevalent in areas with a dense population of dogs, such as dog race tracks, shelters, and kennels. Parainfluenza virus infection is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can induce infectious tracheobronchitis, commonly referred to as "kennel cough."

What are the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs?

The symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus infections are as follows. The severity and 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.

What causes parainfluenza in dogs?

Parainfluenza is transmitted through the air dogs breathe and is especially contagious for dogs that live or spend time with other dogs.

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 dogs with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk.

Toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia due to the thick secretions produced by throat irritation. The virus can remain in the hair for up to two weeks after the infection has healed."

How is parainfluenza diagnosed?

When you bring your pet to the vet, be prepared to provide a detailed history. The parainfluenza virus can spread easily in places like boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other locations. It's crucial to provide information about your pets' activities in the 2 to 4 weeks before symptoms first appear. 

Your vet will also need to know about your pet's health and vaccination history. Any interactions your pet has had with other dogs,  including in different environments, could be important in identifying the source of infection, so please provide as much information as possible. 

The veterinarian will conduct a physical examination and may perform diagnostics such as blood tests, cultures, and testing of fluid and tissue samples. Imaging techniques like radiography (x-ray) may also be used to determine whether there are any masses or parasitic involvement. Once all the test results have been received and analyzed, a treatment plan will be developed and implemented.

How do you treat parainfluenza in dogs?

Your vet is unlikely to recommend hospitalization because the virus is highly contagious to other canines unless the situation is dire. Instead of hospitalization, your veterinarian may make management recommendations, which will most likely include the following:

  • 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?

At Ferguson Animal Hospital, we administer the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine to dogs aged 6 to 8 weeks. Boosters are subsequently administered at 10-12 weeks, 14-16 weeks, and 12 to 16 months of age.

It is highly advisable to schedule annual vaccinations and routine exams for your dog to safeguard them against parainfluenza and other diseases. 

Are you concerned that your dog may be displaying symptoms of parainfluenza? Is it time to book your furry friend's yearly vaccinations? Contact our vets inNorth Providence to set up an appointment for your dog. 

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Ferguson Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of North Providence companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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