Parainfluenza is the principal virus implicated in the kennel cough complex. Vaccines will decrease the prevalence and severity of the infection, but will not prevent the disease. Parainfluenza is incorporated into the canine distemper-measles-parainfluenza and DHPP shots. The first dose is given at 8 to 12 weeks of age and the second at 16 weeks. AAHA 2006 guidelines are to give the vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks of age, then every three to four weeks until the dog is 12 to 14 weeks of age, but many veterinarians prefer to wait until a puppy is 7 or 8 weeks of age to start vaccinations. An intranasal vaccine that combines the bordetella vaccine is also available.
The injectable parainfluenza vaccine protects dogs but does not eliminate the virus from nasal secretions. That means dogs can still transmit the infection. The intranasal vaccine protects against both disease and infection, thus eliminating the possibility of transmitting the disease to other dogs.
Annual boosters are recommended by the manufacturer. However, evidence suggests that parainfluenza vaccines do not always protect for the full 12 months, and in many cases should be given twice a year, especially for dogs at increased risk. This recommendation is only for the parainfluenza vaccine—not for the other viruses that are often included in a combination vac- cine. This is not a core vaccine, so it should only be given to dogs with lifestyles that increase their risk, such as show dogs and dogs who will be boarded.