Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious ribonucleic acid virus that causes respiratory illness in dogs all over the world. Today, our Rochester vets lay out the symptoms and causes of parainfluenza in dogs and how to treat it.
What is the parainfluenza virus?
Although the respiratory symptoms of parainfluenza are similar to those of canine influenza, the viruses are very different and necessitate different treatments and vaccinations. Both are highly contagious and are common in areas with dense dog populations, such as dog race tracks, shelters, and kennels.
The parainfluenza virus infection is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as 'kennel cough.'
What are the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs?
The following are the symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus infections. The severity or intensity of these symptoms can vary depending on the infected dog's age 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 viral and transmitted via the air dogs breathe. As such, it is a very contagious disease, especially for dogs who live or spend time with other dogs.
The parainfluenza virus is related to canine distemper and shares respiratory symptoms such as a dry, hacking cough and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. Puppies and older adult canines with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable. Toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia due to the 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?
You must provide the vet with a detailed medical history. The parainfluenza virus spreads easily in boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other places where many dogs congregate. It is critical to provide information about your pet's location within 2 to 4 weeks of the onset of symptoms 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 dogs, unless the situation is dire, your veterinarian is unlikely to recommend hospitalization. Your veterinarian may make management recommendations instead of hospitalization, 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 Stoney Pointe Pet 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. You can view our vaccine schedule here.