can dogs catch a cold
Category_Dog Knowledge

Can Dogs Get Colds? Understanding Cold Symptoms

by Andrew Ehlert

The common cold is an unfortunate state every person has suffered through. No one enjoys feeling like they can’t breathe or being covered in runny snot. But can dogs get colds? In fact, they suffer from cold viruses just like us, and it can be worrying for owners.

Our pups can’t tell us when they aren’t feeling well, so it’s up to us to monitor them and keep them in good health. But how do you tell a runny nose from a wet nose? When does a cough or two require a vet appointment?

To keep your furry friend at the top of the game, there are signs to watch for and home remedies to relieve their cold symptoms. Understanding what a dog cold is and the symptoms associated with it help you care for your dog and keep them well.

Can Dogs Get Colds?

So the colds that humans get aren’t the same colds that dogs can get. We use colds to refer to viruses that cause coughing, sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, and sneezing.

The virus humans catch that presents these symptoms is usually rhinovirus, but other ones give us similar symptoms. In dogs, however, they can’t catch the same colds as we do, and we can’t catch the same colds they do.

When dogs have cold symptoms, they are usually suffering from one of the following viruses:

  • Canine respiratory coronavirus
  • Canine adenovirus type 2
  • Canine parainfluenza virus
  • Bordetella, also known as kennel cough

All of these viruses come with symptoms that we associate with colds. These viruses are usually mild and not cause for great concern, but sometimes cold symptoms can be a sign of an underlying condition that does need medical attention.

To keep your dog happy and healthy, it helps to understand the causes of cold symptoms and how to treat them.

How Do Dogs Get Colds?

Dogs get colds the same way we do, by catching them from somewhere, usually another dog. If you frequent the dog park with your pooch, there is a high chance of them catching an infection or virus here.

Dogs can even catch a virus from just saying hello to another dog while on a walk. Keeping them away from other dogs is one way to prevent them from getting sick. But cutting them off socially isn’t a good idea. Just like humans, dogs get colds and then get better and move on like it never happened. But be wary of them picking up random toys on walks that could be carrying virus germs.

If you have a cold, there is essentially zero chance of passing it on to your dog, or vice versa. Dogs and humans don’t catch the same viruses, so you don’t have to worry about transmitting them to your pet.

Dog Cold Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Runny eyes
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Coughing or hacking
  • Stuffy nose (this can manifest in snoring or awkward breathing)
  • Fatigued
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

These symptoms aren’t a cause for concern on their own, but monitoring your pet’s symptoms and progression through the illness is important, so you can recognize if something worse is going on.

Do I Need To Take My Dog To The Vet If He Has A Cold?

If your dog has a runny nose and mild cough, you probably don’t need to contact your veterinarian. If the symptoms persist for more than two or three days or get worse rather than better, call your vet.

Although usually a sniffle and runny nose isn’t an emergency, sometimes the symptoms indicate there is something worse.

Other Problems Associated With Cold Symptoms

  • Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious respiratory infection in which fluid enters the lungs, making breathing uncomfortable. This should be treated by a vet right away and will manifest in your dog wheezing, being extremely fatigued, and coughing.

  • Heart disease

Heart disease, specifically congestive heart failure, can manifest as a tired dog that is having trouble breathing. They may cough or vomit clear fluid. Congestive heart failure can only be diagnosed with an X-ray, so if you suspect your dog’s cold symptoms may be something worse, bring them to your vet.

  • Tracheal collapse

A tracheal collapse is when the airway flattens, making it very difficult to breathe. Your dog may cough as they try to get air and make an odd honking noise. The honking is not a good sign, and they should be examined immediately.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Catching A Cold

There are a few simple things you can do to lower the chances of your fluffy friend catching a virus with cold symptoms.

Clean their toys and bowls

Dog germs are moved around in the same way human germs are—through surfaces that are touched. You should sanitize your dog’s toys, especially if they bring them outside, and regularly wash their food and water bowls.

Let them snooze

Dogs require a ton of sleep. A healthy dog will sleep between 12-14 hours a day, and this rest is important in keeping them in tip-top shape. Just like humans, rest is a valuable proponent to a healthy dog.

Get them vaccinated

Don’t neglect their vaccinations if you still have some you need to get done. These are the best defense against serious viruses that can be life-threatening if not treated. Vaccines are not always one and done, so don’t forget to get the necessary rounds of shots for your pup.

Balance their nutrition

Eating healthy is one way to fight off viruses and infections. For both humans and canines, a diet full of nutrition helps keep the body functioning at its peak. Read the ingredients on your dog food to ensure they get all the ingredients they need for a healthy life.

Keep Your Dog Safe From A Cold

So don’t get too worried if your dog has the sniffles, so to speak. They’ll probably be under the weather for a few days and then bounce back to their old selves.

Keep an eye out for more concerning or prolonged symptoms, but in general, your pup is just dealing with flu and cold season, same as us.

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