Parainfluenza vs. Kennel Cough in Dogs

Boarding in a kennel increases the risk of exposure to kennel cough.
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Kennel cough, or canine tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory condition found in dogs, especially those confined in a kennel setting. Unlike other conditions that have only one contributing virus or bacteria, a variety of different viruses, bacteria and microorganisms can contribute to cases of kennel cough, including parainfluenza. While parainfluenza is a contributing virus to kennel cough, canine influenza is another condition, similar to human flu, which can make your dog sick.

Causes of Kennel Cough

Several different infectious agents can contribute to kennel cough. In addition to the parainfluenza virus, others include adenovirus type-2, the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine reovirus, canine herpesvirus and mycoplasma canis. The most common organism contributing to kennel cough is parainfluenza and an infection with this virus typically lasts less than a week and offers mild symptoms. Unfortunately, many cases of kennel cough involve infection with multiple agents, increasing symptoms and duration.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is named for a dry, hacking cough. This is the most common symptom. The cough has a distinct sound and often sounds like honking. Another common symptom is nasal discharge. In severe cases, symptoms include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and pneumonia.

Canine Influenza

While symptoms are similar to kennel cough, canine influenza, or dog flu, is an entirely different disease caused by the influenza A H3N8 virus. Originally believed to be a horse virus, canine influenza was discovered in dogs in 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of this highly contagious flu include cough, runny nose and fever.


When it comes to the prevention of kennel cough or canine influenza, vaccination is the best tool. For kennel cough, vaccines are available against adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica. A vaccine is also available for the influenza A H3N8 virus that causes canine influenza. If you have multiple dogs in your home, isolate sick dogs to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Talk to your veterinarian before boarding your dog in a kennel so the appropriate vaccinations are administered.