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Parainfluenza in Dogs

by Bridgette



What is Parainfluenza?

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.


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.  Humans have their own version of the parainfluenza virus.  

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