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Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPIV)


If you’re concerned about your dog’s health, or ‘kennel cough’ in particular, find the information and advice you seek here. At Home Health UK, we are pleased to offer a wide variety of pet health pharmaceuticals, to help you expertly treat your four-legged friends. 

What is Canine Parainfluenza?

Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is a highly contagious viral lung infection. It is also one of the most common contributing causes of kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis), an acute or chronic inflammation of the respiratory airways.


What are the symptoms of canine parainfluenza?

Symptoms of CPIV resemble canine influenza, but it is a very different virus requiring different treatments and vaccinations. The symptoms of canine parainfluenza can vary depending on the dog’s age and any weakened immunity due to an existing illness. Some or all the following signs may be exhibited: 

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

What are the causes of canine parainfluenza?

CPIV was first reported in 2004 in the United States as an unknown respiratory illness in dogs. The illness was first found in greyhounds and linked to horse flu, also known as equine influenza. 

We now know that CPIV originated in horses. Scientists believe the virus jumped species and adapted to cause illness in dogs. It is now considered to be a canine-specific virus. 

Canine parainfluenza is viral and transmitted through airborne particles from coughing and sneezing and through contact with contaminated food bowls, water bowls and bedding. An infected dog can continue to pass on the virus for up to 2 weeks after recovery. For this reason, CPIV will spread rapidly in settings where large numbers of dogs are kept together, like kennels or shelters.


Who Can Catch Canine Parainfluenza?

Since the virus jumped species previously, you may be wondering who else can catch canine parainfluenza. There is no definitive answer as to who else is at risk, although this could change in the future. Unfortunately, influenza viruses are always changing, so it is possible that species could jump again and evolve.

Can humans catch canine influenza?

Canine influenza poses a low threat to humans, and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) consider the potential pandemic risk of CPIV in humans to be low. There have been zero reported cases of a human infected with canine influenza, and there is o evidence of a spread from dog to human. 

Can cats get canine influenza?

Unfortunately, cats can contract kennel cough like dogs, and cats and dogs can transmit the infection to each other. If you keep both pet dogs and cats, you should keep the breeds separated from each other if you notice one becoming sick and showing symptoms of CPIV. 


What are the risk factors of canine parainfluenza?

Dogs are at risk of catching canine parainfluenza when placed in close proximity to an infected dog.  Potential situations would be at boarding kennels, breeding kennels, rehoming shelters, pet daycare centres, dog parks and groomers.

When coupled with Bordetella bronchiseptica or canine adenovirus-2 (CAV-2), parainfluenza can contribute to your dog developing kennel cough.

Those at a higher risk factor when it comes to parainfluenza virus include puppies and older adult dogs, as they have compromised immune systems that put them at higher risk of contracting the virus. Similarly, puppies and toy breeds are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia following CPIV as they are prone to thick secretions produced by throat irritation. 



If your dog is showing signs of infection from CPIV, it is important to get him checked out by a vet as soon as possible. Your vet will thoroughly examine your pet and request a detailed history of his health, symptoms and when symptoms first appeared.  

Upon diagnosis, you will also need to give details of any close contact your pet has had with other dogs over the previous month. A blood sample and/or a secretion sample from the eye or nose will be taken to test for the virus and rule out any other illnesses.  If there are concerns that your pet has developed pneumonia, your vet may wish to take a chest x-ray. 

Speedy diagnosis is essential for your dog to receive effective treatment and quarantine to prevent this highly contagious virus from spreading to other dogs.


What treatment can be given for canine parainfluenza?

Some dogs may recover from the virus without medication. Still, generally, antibiotics will be given to treat any bacterial infection and antiviral medication to suppress the virus. If your dog is suffering from a very dry and painful cough, cough suppressants and painkillers are likely to be given. Persistent coughing over a long period can cause scarring of the lung tissue and long-term problems.

Your dog’s recovery will depend greatly on his health before infection and prompt diagnosis and treatment.  Keeping your pet isolated will not only prevent the spreading of the virus but also protect him from any secondary infections and complications.

How long does canine influenza last?

CPIV may affect your dog for up to two weeks. However, it should be noted that infection may be present in the air even once your dog has recovered. For this reason, we recommend cleaning the spaces your dog has occupied meticulously. You should also keep them away from other dogs and shared communal spaces as much as possible while they are sick. 


How to Prevent Canine Parainfluenza

You can prevent canine parainfluenza through effective vaccination. However, it is not always given as part of a standard inoculation program. Ask your vet about the vaccination if you are concerned, especially if your dog is regularly in contact with other dogs.

How is canine influenza transmitted?

As previously mentioned, CPIV is a viral lung infection that rapidly spreads through fluids. Unclean surfaces in shared spaces that infected dogs may have coughed, sneezed or drooled on may be hot spots for the infection to be spread. Similarly, shared water and food bowls in kennels, vets, daycare and dog parks will spread the infection hard and fast. 


More Help and Advice

If you believe your dog or pets may have CPIV, keep them isolated from other animals until you have an official diagnosis or they get better. To help diagnose CPIV, you can test your dog at home and receive accurate results using a canine parvovirus test kit

If you receive a positive result, you should notify any communal spaces your dog or pet has visited in the last month. You should also speak to your vet to begin a course of antibiotics or receive other medication for your dog. 

Explore our full range of health test kits for dogs available at Home Health UK, and get in touch with our expert team for further advice.