Canine Parainfluenza Outbreak – What You Need to Know

You may have heard about the current outbreak of Canine Respiratory Disease (CRD) that we are experiencing here in the Anchorage area. We started to notice this trend in mid-March and this month our doctors’ partnered with Zoetis, our vaccine manufacturer, to send 5 samples taken from dogs showing signs of CRD into our reference lab for testing. To date we have received 4 out of the 5 lab results and they have each come back positive for Canine Parainfluenza. Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious respiratory virus and, while the symptoms resemble Canine Influenza, they are unrelated viruses. It is important to note that neither virus can spread to humans. Upper Respiratory Disease can still be seen in vaccinated dogs but generally the severity and duration is less in animals whom are current on vaccinations.

While here in Anchorage, we are currently seeing an outbreak of Canine Parainfluenza, it does not appear related to the outbreak of the strain of Canine influenza virus (CIV) associated with more than 1,000 sick dogs throughout the Midwest. Both of these viruses have vaccines. Parainfluenza is included in most Distemper-Parvo vaccine combinations which are part of the core vaccinations dogs should receive along with the Rabies vaccination (and if your pet has a lifestyle of regular exposure to other dogs, the Bordetella vaccine). The Canine Influenza vaccine is a stand-alone vaccine not commonly given here in Southcentral Alaska. At this point our doctors are not recommending that dogs in the Anchorage area seek out vaccination for Canine Influenza unless travelling to the mid-west.

CPIV and CIV are excreted from the respiratory tract of infected animals for up to 2+ weeks after infection and are readily transmitted through the air. The virus spreads rapidly in areas where large numbers of dogs are kept together (boarding or grooming) or gather to play (dog parks, daycare or showing).

At this time our doctors are recommending that geriatric dogs, puppies and other unvaccinated dogs, those with existing respiratory disease, conformational issues such as compressed face breeds or those with compromised immune systems should stay away from places where dogs congregate (like dog parks, groomers, boarding kennels or doggie daycare facilities) for the next 3 to 4 weeks. The clinical signs of Canine Parainfluenza include coughing (dry or moist), low-grade fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, vomiting and loss of appetite. Usually this virus is self-limiting and symptoms resolve in 6-14 days. If your dog is showing mild respiratory signs we would recommend isolating him / her from other dogs and it is not necessary to bring them to your veterinarian as viral diseases need to run their course. If your dog is significantly depressed, unable to eat or is have progressively productive coughing or difficulty breathing then an exam is recommended to see if treatment with cough suppressants and antibiotics for secondary bacterial bronchitis or pneumonia is indicated.