It can be of great benefit for dog owners to know a thing or two about doggy illnesses. We often hear the question, “Do dogs get colds?”
Of equal importance is the question, “When should I take my dog to the vet for a cold?”
We’ll cover the colds your dog can catch, available home treatments, and signs that a trip to the vet is in order.
Do Dogs Get Colds?
The short and simple answer is that yes, dogs do get colds. Let’s take a look at some of the most common canine colds and where they come from.
Kennel cough is something that almost every dog owner has heard of. We call it “kennel cough” because it is an airborne infection transmitted from dog to dog. In other words, if your dog is in close quarters with an infected dog (perhaps in a kennel), they can end up with cold like symptoms.
In actuality, there are a few viruses and even bacteria that end up under the “kennel cough” umbrella. The first most common cause of “kennel cough” is Bordetella bronchiseptica. The second is canine para influenza virus.
Symptoms of Canine Colds
When dogs catch colds, they exhibit similar symptoms to human colds!
Some of the most noticeable symptoms are stuffy or runny noses, loud breathing caused by congestion, coughing, and red, watery eyes.
Sneezing is also a common symptom of the canine cold. We don’t mean a sneeze here and there, which could be caused by a number of passing irritants. Instead, we mean steady or consistent sneezing that lasts for several hours or even days.
Dogs can also develop a fever and feel achy all over. When this occurs, they will be less active and excitable. If your pooch doesn’t perk up at the suggestion of a walk or a romp in the backyard, they’re probably feeling pretty lousy.
What to Do When Your Dog Is Sick
If the cold seems mild, there are a few things you can do at home to ease their symptoms and speed up their recovery.
Provide your dog with a balanced diet. There are certain amino acids that dogs need to build up strength and to stay healthy.
Make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water. Dogs with infections can run a fever or become dehydrated quickly. If she doesn’t seem interested in her water bowl, try offering her crushed ice cubes or lukewarm water and see if that’s more appealing.
Use a wet cloth to keep her eyes and nose clear. All of that runny gunk is uncomfortable!
Finally, boosting humidity levels is a good idea to relieve some of your dog’s symptoms. Keep a humidifier running and encourage your dog to lay in the bathroom when you shower so that she can inhale some of the steam.
Do not give your dog over-the-counter medication designed for human consumption.
Signs That Your Dog Needs to Go to the Vet
At what point does a canine cold escalate into something more serious? There are a few tell-tale signs that it’s time to take your pooch to the vet’s office.
Extreme Low Energy Levels
As we mentioned earlier, it’s normal for your dog to catch a few extra z’s when she’s sick. However, she should still get up to use the restroom, eat, drink, and maybe even snuggle.
Unusual Bowel Movements
Unusual bowel movements include diarrhea and constipation. You may also notice oddly colored or textured stool. Finally, she may not be constipated but is straining to have bowel movement. Any of these symptoms are reasons to call your vet pronto!
Refusal to Take Food or Water
It’s normal for dogs to become somewhat disinterested in food and water when they’re sick. They may not have as much of an appetite or find that substances hurt or irritate their throat.
Symptoms Lasting Longer Than a Week
If your dog is still showing signs of sickness after three or four days, it’s time to go to the vet. This applies even if the symptoms aren’t getting worse over time. A prolonged illness is a sign that your dog’s body isn’t strong enough to fight off the virus on its own and medication is necessary.
First of all, keep their vaccinations up to date. Most kennels will require that your dog has had a kennel cough or canine influenza vaccinations before boarding.
If one of your dogs has caught a cold, keep them separated from the rest until it’s cleared up. Make sure you pick up the infected dog’s poop and throw it away immediately.