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Symptoms of Parainfluenza in Dogs

CPIV stands for Parainfluenza virus, which is a highly contagious acid virus that causes respiratory illness in dogs. In this article, our San Gabriel vets explain the symptoms and causes of dog parainfluenza and how to treat it.

What is the parainfluenza virus?

The breathing problems caused by parainfluenza in dogs are much like those caused by canine influenza, but the viruses are different. They need different treatments and shots. Both can spread easily and are often found in places where lots of dogs gather, like dog tracks, shelters, and 

This infection is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as 'kennel cough.'

What are the symptoms of parainfluenza?

The severity or intensity of these symptoms may vary depending on the age of the infected dog and the host's immune system. Below are the symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus infections:

  • 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

Keep in mind that the virus itself can be a component of other canine respiratory diseases, most notably kennel cough, bordetella, and canine adenovirus-2.

Causes of Parainfluenza

Parainfluenza is transmitted as dogs breathe. Because this disease is viral, it is very contagious, especially for dogs who live or spend time with other dogs.

The parainfluenza virus is like a canine distemper and causes similar breathing problems like bronchial tubes, and windpipe. Puppies and older dogs with weak immune systems are more likely to get it. Small dog breeds are also more prone to pneumonia because of the thick mucus from 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 vet will need to know about your pet's recent activities. Parainfluenza spreads quickly in places like boarding kennels and grooming salons where many dogs gather. It's important to tell the vet where your pet has been in the two to four weeks before they show symptoms.

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.

Our 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 X-rays 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?

Since the virus is highly contagious to other canines, your vet is unlikely to recommend hospitalization unless the situation is an emergency. Instead of hospitalization, your veterinarian may make management recommendations. Your vet may recommend things such as:

  • Healthy eating, hygiene, and nursing care
  • 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.
  • Antibiotics such as cephalosporins, quinolones, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline
  • Treatment options include bronchodilator pretreatment followed by aerosolization treatments.

Do you give the parainfluenza dog vaccine?

At Temple City Animal Hospital, we give dogs the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine between six and eight 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 exams to protect them from parainfluenza and a host of other diseases too. 

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.

Is your dog unwell? Contact our San Gabriel vets today to schedule an appointment for your pup.

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