Parainfluenza is a common condition affecting dogs that can be prevented with routine vaccinations. Today, our Killen vets discuss the effects of parainfluenza infections in dogs and what you can do to help minimize the risk.
Parainfluenza Infections in Dogs
The respiratory symptoms of parainfluenza are similar to those seen in dogs with canine influenza, but the viruses are very different and require different treatments and vaccinations. Both are highly contagious and are commonly found 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.'
The Symptoms of Parainfluenza
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.
How Parainfluenza Affects 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, including a dry, hacking cough and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. Puppies and older adult canines with compromised immune systems are at higher risk. Because of the thick secretions produced by throat irritation, toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia.
After the infection has healed, the virus can still be picked up in the air for up to two weeks.
Diagnosing Parainfluenza in Dogs
When you speak with your vet, they will ask for a complete history of your dog if they do not already have the information. This can help to determine the likelihood of your dog contracting the virus. The parainfluenza virus is easily spread in boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other places where a large number of dogs congregate. It is critical to provide information about your pet's whereabouts within 2 to 4 weeks of the first symptoms appearing in your family pet.
You will need to provide your vet with any information about dogs that yours has been in contact with recently.
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 to Treat Parainfluenza in Dogs
Due to the highly infectious nature of the parainfluenza virus, the vet will likely ask that you keep your dog at home unless they are experiencing severe complications. 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.
Preventing Parainfluenza in Dogs With Vaccinations
Parainfluenza in dogs can be prevented using a vaccine. This vaccine helps to increase immunity allowing for your dog to be better protected against the virus. This will reduce the risk of your dog contracting parainfluenza and lessen the severity if an infection does occur.
At Center Star Veterinary Services, we perform routine vaccinations on all of our dog patients following a carefully laid out vaccination schedule that helps provide your dog with the best protection possible. The DHPP vaccine not only protects against parainfluenza, but distemper, hepatitis and parvo as well.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.