Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious ribonucleic acid virus that causes respiratory illness in dogs all over the world. Today, our Nashua vets lay out the symptoms and causes of parainfluenza in dogs and how to treat it.
What is the parainfluenza virus?
Parainfluenza and canine influenza share similar respiratory symptoms in dogs. However, it's important to note that these two viruses are distinct and necessitate different treatments and vaccinations. Both illnesses are highly contagious and frequently found in locations with a high concentration of dogs, such as race tracks, shelters, and kennels.
Parainfluenza virus infection is a contagious respiratory condition that can lead to infectious tracheobronchitis, commonly known as 'kennel cough.'
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 viral disease that spreads through the air dogs breathe, making it highly contagious, particularly among dogs living or spending time together.
The parainfluenza virus is closely related to canine distemper and shares respiratory symptoms. These include a dry, persistent cough and inflammation in the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. Puppies and older adult dogs with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk. Additionally, toy breeds are more susceptible to developing pneumonia due to the thick secretions caused by throat irritation.
Even after the infection has resolved, the virus can remain in the air for up to two weeks, posing a continued risk of transmission.
How is parainfluenza diagnosed?
The vet will ask you for a detailed history of your pet. The parainfluenza virus spreads easily in places where many dogs gather, such as boarding kennels and grooming salons. It's important to provide information about your pet's recent whereabouts, especially within 2 to 4 weeks of the initial symptoms appearing.
You will need to provide a health history and vaccination records for your pet. Any contact with other dogs, regardless of the environment, can be relevant to the infection process, so it's essential to provide as much detail as possible.
The veterinarian will conduct a physical examination and may also perform diagnostic tests like blood tests, cultures, and analysis of fluid and tissue samples. They might use imaging techniques such as x-rays to check for masses or signs of parasites. Once all the test results are available and reviewed, a treatment plan will be developed and put into action.
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 Animal Hospital of Nashua, 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. You can view our vaccine schedule here.