What is the parainfluenza virus?
Although the respiratory symptoms of parainfluenza and canine influenza in dogs are similar, the viruses are very different and necessitate different vaccinations and treatments. Dog racetracks, shelters, and kennels are among the places where you can find both of these highly contagious canines.
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?
Below is a list of symptoms that indicate a canine parainfluenza virus infection. Depending on the immune system of the host and the age of the infected dog, these symptoms may vary in severity or intensity:
- 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 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.
A dry, hacking cough and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea are among the respiratory symptoms that the parainfluenza virus shares with canine distemper. Canines with weakened immune systems, such as puppies and older adults, are more vulnerable. Additionally more prone to pneumonia are toy breeds 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?
The veterinarian will need a thorough medical history from you. Boarding kennels, grooming parlors, and other dog-crowded areas are easy hubs for the parainfluenza virus to spread. Within two to four weeks after your family pet's first symptoms appear, you must notify us of your pet's whereabouts.
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 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 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?
Unless the situation is dire, your veterinarian is unlikely to recommend hospitalization due to the high contagiousness of the virus to other canines. Your veterinarian may recommend management measures instead of hospitalization, most likely consisting of 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 Rabun Animal 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.