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Canine Parainfluenza In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Nicole Cosgrove

June 30, 2021

If you own a dog, you are probably aware of canine parainfluenza. You may have read about it or heard about it from your veterinarian. You may have even had your dog vaccinated against it when they were a puppy. However, you may not know all the details about canine parainfluenza. Read on to learn more about what it is, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatments, and recovery.

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What Is Canine Parainfluenza?

Canine parainfluenza, or CPIV, is a respiratory virus that is one of the known causes of kennel cough in dogs. It is not the same, however, as canine influenza. Canine parainfluenza is highly contagious and is often found in dogs in shelters or other group situations. It cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans or other animals.

The virus is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus that spreads through droplets in the air or through sharing contaminated materials like food and water bowls or bedding. Many dogs will only experience minor symptoms. However, canine parainfluenza can exacerbate other respiratory conditions in your dog. If paired with another respiratory infection, such as influenza or Bordetella, canine parainfluenza can become more serious. It can also cause lasting complications for your dog, such as pneumonia or sepsis.

Sick-Labrador
Image Credit By: Phuttharak, shutterstock

Symptoms of Canine Parainfluenza

It can be tricky to diagnose canine parainfluenza because many of the symptoms mirror those of other respiratory infections and diseases. These include the following:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent cough
  • Eye irritation
  • Sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Nasal discharge

These symptoms can range in severity from mild to more serious. Some dogs may be asymptomatic carriers who show no symptoms of illness but are still able to transmit the disease to other dogs.

If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, you should have them checked out by your veterinarian. Early monitoring can help prevent the worsening of the infection and the development of pneumonia. The virus will usually clear up in about 2 weeks, although some symptoms have been known to linger for a longer time. Your dog will also remain contagious for up to 2 weeks after they were infected so you will need to keep them away from other dogs.

What Causes Canine Parainfluenza?

Canine parainfluenza is a virus spread through aerosol droplets and contaminated materials. It is extremely contagious and often spreads through shelters, dog daycares, dog shows, and other situations where multiple dogs share the same space. If you know of a canine parainfluenza outbreak in your community, it is best to keep your dog away from other dogs.

How is Canine Parainfluenza Diagnosed?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a nasal or throat swab will need to be administered. Many other viruses present with the same symptoms, so it is not possible to determine if a dog has parainfluenza just by symptoms alone. The swab must be tested in a canine respiratory panel, which can distinguish between the different respiratory pathogens that could cause illness in your dog.

Your veterinarian will likely also ask you about your dog’s vaccination history if they are not familiar with it. They will also want to know if your dog has been in contact with other dogs either in a kennel, at a dog park, or dog daycare. This is because the virus is highly contagious and alerting other pet parents to the infection can help stop the spread.

Sick-Duchshund
Image Credit By: llaszlo, Shutterstock

What Treatments Are Available?

The first path to protecting your dog from canine parainfluenza is to have them vaccinated. Your dog should be vaccinated when they are a puppy against several diseases, including canine parainfluenza.  The vaccine for canine parainfluenza is not the same as the vaccine for canine influenza so you will want to make sure your dog is vaccinated against both. Many veterinarians offer a multivalent vaccine, which protects against several diseases in one vaccine.

It is important to note that vaccines will not prevent infection from canine parainfluenza. However, they will lessen the severity and possible complications if your dog does happen to get infected.

In the event your dog does get sick, some treatments can help ease their symptoms and discomfort. The basics include making sure they are getting plenty of fluids, eating well, and resting. If the symptoms are more severe, your veterinarian may prescribe a dog-safe cough suppressant. Creating a warm, humid environment by having your dog lay in the bathroom while you run the hot shower can also loosen coughs and make them more comfortable.

If your veterinarian suspects your dog’s condition has worsened or led to the development of pneumonia, they may suggest a chest X-ray. Treatment for pneumonia would include strong antibiotics and may also require long-term care at an animal hospital.

Recovery and Outlook for Your Dog

Beagle dog
Image Credit By: Ross stevenson, Shutterstock

Most dogs will recover from canine parainfluenza without complications within about 2 weeks. If your dog has underlying conditions or the parainfluenza pairs with another respiratory infection, the recovery time may be longer.

The biggest factors in a successful recovery include the overall health of your dog and quick veterinary care. If your dog is generally healthy, they are far less likely to have long-term complications. Vaccinated dogs will also not experience severe symptoms from parainfluenza. If you do suspect your dog is ill, taking them to the vet as soon as possible will allow your vet to monitor their symptoms and give them the proper treatments.

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Conclusion

Canine parainfluenza can become a serious problem if not properly treated. However, if you monitor your dog’s health and ensure they have regular veterinary check-ups, most dogs will recover from the disease fully.


Featured Image Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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