Pet Health

Parainfluenza and Your Dog

Parainfluenza is a serious respiratory disease that spreads easily between dogs. This highly preventable disease can not only make your dog very sick, but it can cause other problems. It has been responsible for many respiratory disease outbreaks all over the world. Here is more information about the signs your dog has a parainfluenza infection and how you can prevent the disease.

What Is Parainfluenza?

Parainfluenza is a virus that has similar symptoms to influenza, but it is a distinct disease. It’s related to canine distemper. Parainfluenza is a part of a respiratory complex that is highly transmissible. Dogs with a recent parainfluenza infection can also have additional problems like kennel cough. Sometimes, dogs with parainfluenza can also have bordetella, adenovirus, and pneumonia at the same time.

How Does Parainfluenza Affect Dogs?

Coughing is the most common symptom of parainfluenza. The cough can be a dry or a wet, productive one. Your dog may also cough up blood. In addition to coughing, your dog will likely have a fever and look and act like he or she is not well. He or she may not eat or show interest in their usual activities. You will also see more nasal discharge than usual.

Some dogs show few or no symptoms at all. Unfortunately, asymptomatic dogs are problematic because their owners and handlers are unlikely to isolate them. Therefore, they can be a major vector of the disease.

Where Do Dogs Tend to Catch Parainfluenza?

Parainfluenza spreads through contact with other dogs. Your dog’s chance of illness increases with the number of dogs he or she regularly has contact with. Parainfluenza tends to spread the fastest in kennels and shelters. The most common way the virus spreads is through aerosols from coughs and sneezes. However, it can also spread through shared bowls and bedding.

Canine parainfluenza can spread between other pets like cats. However, you are not likely to catch the canine version of the virus or its related conditions. Humans have their own version of the parainfluenza virus.

What Treatments Help With Parainfluenza?

Generally, dogs do not need hospitalization for this disease except in extreme cases. After a veterinarian’s diagnosis, your dog may need to take medications to ease the symptoms. A prescription cough suppressant can help dogs with severe coughs and breathing problems. If your dog has developed a secondary infection, like pneumonia, he or she may also need antibiotics.

In addition to medication, you should also take other steps to ease your dog’s symptoms and keep the disease from spreading to other dogs. Keep your dog away from healthy animals until he or she recovers. Try a humidifier to reduce chest congestion. Your dog will recover from the infection within a few weeks.

How Can One Prevent Parainfluenza in Their Dog?

The best way to prevent parainfluenza is through vaccination. Often, parainfluenza vaccines are combined with core vaccines like distemper and parvo. The vaccines last for about a year. The veterinarian can give a booster every year along with your dog’s other vaccinations. The vaccines are safe for puppies who are already eligible for other vaccines.

Vaccinations are critical if you visit an area with a high likelihood of contact with strange dogs. Kennels and daycares may require a parainfluenza vaccine if the disease is a problem in your area. Because many dogs are asymptomatic, you should take precautions to protect your dog.

Since parainfluenza is preventable, your dog never needs to suffer from it. If your dog gets sick, seek a veterinarian’s help. We at 1st Pet Veterinary Centers can diagnose and care for your dog’s respiratory problems. In addition, we have vaccines available for this disease and other serious canine illnesses. Give us a call to schedule an examination.