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What is parainfluenza in dogs?

Our Concord veterinarians are available to offer information about canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV), a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects dogs globally. It is crucial to understand the symptoms and causes of parainfluenza in dogs and how to treat it.

What is the parainfluenza virus?

Parainfluenza is a viral infection that causes respiratory symptoms in dogs. It is similar to canine influenza but requires different treatments and vaccinations.

Both are highly contagious and can be found in places with a high density of dogs, 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 symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus infections are as follows: 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 can be a component of other canine respiratory diseases, most notably kennel cough, bordetella, and canine adenovirus-2.

What are the causes of parainfluenza in dogs?

Parainfluenza is an airborne virus that dogs can contract, especially if they live or spend time with other dogs. It is closely related to canine distemper and shares similar respiratory symptoms, such as a dry, hacking cough and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea.

Puppies and older dogs with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, toy breeds are more susceptible to pneumonia due to the thick secretions produced by throat irritation. After recovery, the virus can linger in a dog's hair for up to two weeks.

How is parainfluenza diagnosed?

You must provide a detailed history when you take your pet to the vet. The parainfluenza virus can spread quickly in boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other locations where many dogs gather.

It's important to provide information about your pet's activities within two to four weeks before the first appearance of symptoms. Your vet must also know about your pet's health and vaccination history.

Any interactions your pet has had with other dogs, even in different environments, could be important in identifying the source of infection, so please provide as much information as possible.

The veterinarian will perform a physical examination and may conduct tests 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?

Yes, there is. At Four Corners Veterinary Hospital, we provide the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine to dogs when they are between 6 and 8 weeks old. Following this, we administer boosters when the dogs are 10-12 weeks old, 14-16 weeks old, and then again between 12 to 16 months old. It is highly recommended that your dog be scheduled for annual vaccinations and routine exams to safeguard it from parainfluenza and various other diseases. You can find our vaccine schedule here.

What are the benefits of vaccination for parainfluenza?

Vaccinating your dog against parainfluenza virus (PIV) is important in protecting their health and well-being. Canine parainfluenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory pathogen that can lead to serious health issues, especially in environments where dogs are in close contact, such as kennels, dog parks, and grooming facilities. Here are some key benefits of vaccinating your dog against parainfluenza:

  • Prevent respiratory Illness
  • Reduce severy of the symptoms
  • Dresease the spread of the infection
  • Projects vulnerable dogs such as puppies and senior dogs
  • Compliance with boarding requirements
  • Peace of mind 

Vaccination against parainfluenza is a simple and effective way to safeguard your dog’s health.

What are the side effects or risks of the parainfluenza vaccination? 

While vaccinating your dog against parainfluenza is important in protecting their health, it’s natural to be concerned about potential risks and side effects. Vaccinations, like any medical treatment, can sometimes cause adverse reactions. However, the benefits of vaccinating against parainfluenza generally far outweigh the risks. Here are some potential side effects and risks associated with the parainfluenza vaccination:

Common Side Effects

  • Mild discomfort at the injection site
  • Lethargy and mild fever
  • decrease appetite

Rare but serious side effects 

  • Allergic reactions 
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Autoimmune reactions

While some risks and potential side effects are associated with the parainfluenza vaccination, they are generally rare and mild. The protection offered by the vaccine against a potentially serious respiratory infection far outweighs these risks. By vaccinating your dog, you are taking a proactive step to ensure their health and well-being. Always consult your veterinarian to discuss any concerns and to ensure that your dog receives the best possible care.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please visit your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Are you worried that your dog is showing signs of parainfluenza? Is it time to schedule your furry friend's annual vaccinations? Contact our veterinarians in Concord to arrange an appointment for your dog.

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Four Corners Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for the health of your precious companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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