Canine Parainfluenza Virus


What is canine parainfluenza?

The canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is one of the viruses that can be responsible for causing infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) in dogs. This virus primarily infects the respiratory system and is extremely contagious. It causes coughing and other cold like symptoms in dogs. This disease is non-life-threatening.


What are the symptoms of canine parainfluenza?

Symptoms of parainfluenza are related to the respiratory system. Some dogs who have contracted the virus may not show any signs of infection, while other may show some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing

  • Low-grade fever

  • Nasal discharge

  • Lack of energy

  • Loss of appetite

How is canine parainfluenza diagnosed?

A specific diagnosis of canine parainfluenza is usually not necessary.  The dog will usually be diagnosed as having kennel cough, but whether it was caused by CPIV or another respiratory virus is usually not investigated. Diagnosis is usually based on the dog’s medical history, clinical signs, vaccination history and physical exam. If a specific diagnosis of canine parainfluenza is needed, ocular and oral swabs can be submitted to the lab for PCR testing to confirm the presence of CPIV.


How is canine parainfluenza treated and prevented?

Many canine infectious respiratory diseases, including canine parainfluenza are usually self limiting diseases. They will run their course within a two week period. If the infection is more severe, cough suppressants may be prescribed. Chronic cases may require antibiotics if a secondary infection has had opportunity to set in. Supplementation with probiotics or other immune system support product may be recommended to help their immune system. Using a humidifier or placing your dog in the bathroom while you shower can help with congestion and discomfort.

Dogs suffering from canine parainfluenza should be kept away from respiratory irritants such as cigarette smoke, strong fragrances, camp fire smoke etc. They should also be separated from other dogs in the household and kept away from kennels, off leash parks and other areas frequented by other dogs.

Vaccination is available against canine parainfluenza, it is part of the DA2PP core vaccine given to dogs (the “P” in the vaccine name stands for parainfluenza). Vaccination will not necessarily prevent your dog from contracting parainfluenza, but it does significantly help reduce the severity of clinical disease if the dog does catch the virus. Vaccination can’t help cure your dog if they have already caught the virus.