The canine influenza virus is not the same as the canine parainfluenza virus. Both are respiratory diseases that involve dry, or unproductive, coughing and nasal discharge. Both diseases can be mistaken for tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough. However, the influenza virus is a much newer disease than the parainfluenza virus.
It is believed that the canine influenza virus was first discovered in greyhounds at a Florida racing track in 2004. The disease began spreading to other greyhound racing tracks throughout the United States. It is similar to the equine influenza virus and may even be a mutation of it.
This virus can either be mild or severe. In the milder form, the dog will have an unproductive cough, or a moister cough that can last up to a month. The dog may also have discharge from the nose. A high fever and respiratory problems such as pneumonia are likely in the most severe form. While most dogs get the milder version of the disease, the virus can be fatal if pneumonia develops.
Like the canine influenza virus, the canine parainfluenza virus can also lead to death or serious complications if pneumonia occurs. Dogs with pneumonia may need therapy with intravenous fluid and may require hospitalization. A veterinarian may diagnose the canine influenza virus with a blood test, but may do a chest radiography to help diagnose the canine parainfluenza virus.
Unlike the canine parainfluenza virus, the canine influenza virus is so new that no usable vaccine has yet been developed. The veterinarian should be notified at the first signs of coughing, nasal discharge and lethargy. The incubation period is about two to five days.
The parainfluenza virus is widely associated with tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough, and a vaccine is available to guard against both conditions. Most veterinarians recommend having puppies vaccinated around six to nine weeks of age, with booster shots every three or four weeks. Puppies have natural immunity to disease while drinking their vaccinated mother's milk from birth, but that wears off after several weeks and needs to be supplemented with vaccinations to help prevent disease.