It’s common for us to get the sniffles when the colder months kick-off. Although common, the fact is that getting colds can still get pretty annoying. Since it’s something every human will get more than once in their lifetime, fur parents wonder if it’s the same for dogs. Can dogs get colds?
If you want to get the lowdown on common dog cold, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment, read on. We made sure to include all the facts that you need and want to know about dog colds plus more.
Common Colds: What Is It?
A common cold is often harmless, but having it can be a pain. In the human world, a cold is characterized by the inflammation of the membranes lining the nose and throat.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the cold weather that gives you the sniffles. The culprit behind the runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and tickly throat are different kinds of viruses (around 200+), the most common of which is the rhinovirus.
And since it is “common” and it easily spreads, you can expect everyone to be at risk. Adults can have it 2-4 times a year, while the younger ones can have it more than the oldies.
Can Dogs Get Colds?
Since human colds are transmittable, worrying that your pet dog might catch a cold from you is normal. But first things first. Can your pup get a cold?
The answer is Yes, but it doesn’t stop there. Although dogs can catch colds, they can’t be infected by the same virus that infects humans. So don’t worry about your dog getting the sniffles from you and vice-versa. Cold viruses are species specific.
Note, though, that a dog’s cold (although often mild), can be a symptom of a more serious condition.
Common Cold Symptoms In Dogs
A dog with sniffles will show similar symptoms to that of humans. Besides looking like they’re feeling “off,” here are the usual tell-tale signs of common cold in dogs:
- Runny nose
- Runny eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Body aches
Usual Causes Of Dog Cold Symptoms
Like humans, dogs can get sniffles from a virus. The dog cold virus can refer to different viruses.
Aside from viruses, your pet dog’s cold symptoms and upper respiratory symptoms can also be triggered by:
- Parasites like nasal mites, roundworms, and heartworms
- Seasonal and environmental allergies (think pollen, dust, or mites)
- Bacterial infections
- Fungal infections
Read also: Can Dogs Get Hiccups?
Is It A Cold Or Is It Something Worse?
Your dog’s sneezing and cold-like symptoms may also be a more serious or life-threatening disease or viral illness. Such cases will require medical attention and veterinary treatment.
Given this, it’s best to be wary when dealing with your dog’s symptoms instead of brushing it off aside. Here are a few examples of diseases that will give your pets cold-like symptoms.
Canine Flu (Dog Flu)
Dog flu is a respiratory infection that is caused by the canine influenza virus. This spreads the same way as cold, making most dogs susceptible to infection.
Dogs with flu may not show any sign of illness or may exhibit the same symptoms as dogs with cold virus. This includes a runny nose, wet or dry cough, and lethargy. Some may also experience fever, vomiting, lack of appetite, and eye discharge.
While most dogs recover within weeks, some are less fortunate. Failure to keep the symptoms under control can lead to secondary bacterial infections, which can result in other illnesses like pneumonia and even death.
If your dog shows signs of flu, contact your vet right away.
Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is a highly-contagious respiratory disease that can be caused by several bacteria and viruses. It is commonly seen in dogs that are housed together in places like doggy daycare, animal shelters, and kennels (which explains its name).
Besides giving your dog colds, kennel cough symptoms include wheezing and persistent coughing. The cough won’t sound like a regular cough. Instead, it will sound like a loud honking goose. The honking cough can last for several weeks.
While many dogs get through this within one to three weeks, some kennel cough cases require extended treatment. Giving your dog medication may help. But, as always, it’s best to seek expert advice from a vet before taking matters into your own hands.
According to the American Kennel Club, canine distemper is among the more severe diseases your pet dogs can have since it can be both lethal and highly contagious.
Besides the usual cold symptoms, dogs will also show the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Seizures and convulsions
What To Do If Your Dog Has Colds
Did your pet dogs catch a cold? If it’s mild, then you might want to do the following:
Keep them hydrated. Make sure your dog has access to clean water 24/7. Besides regulating your dog’s electrolyte levels, this will help loosen up any mucus build-up in your dog’s throat.
Offer warm, nutritious food. Nasal congestion can affect your dog’s sense of smell, making them turn their heads during mealtime. Warming up their food will help make the food more appealing for your pet dog.
Let ‘em rest. Your pet dog will need to strengthen its immune system and sleep takes care of that.
When To Call The Veterinarian About Your Dog’s Cold
Since a cold doesn’t always resolve on its own, you’d want to call your vet if your dog seems lethargic, lacks appetite, and has difficulty breathing. You should also contact your veterinarian if your dog doesn’t show signs of improvement within a week.
Treatment options will depend on the results of the diagnostic tests that your vet will administer. This may include antibiotics (for bacterial infections) and cough suppressants plus supportive care.
How To Prevent My Dog From Getting The Sniffles?
If you want to keep your dog healthy and reduce your dog’s risk of getting sick, here's what you can do
Up-to-date vaccinations. Although vaccination can’t entirely protect your dog, it can help minimize your dog’s chances of contracting viruses that cause illnesses like distemper, flu, and kennel cough.
Watch out for potential. It pays to know what’s happening in your area. Keep a watchful eye when going to the dog park and see if there are other dogs showing cold symptoms.
Regular cleaning. To avoid spreading the disease to other dogs, it’s good practice to wash your dog’s beddings, water bowls, and food dishes clean. Frequent hand washing also helps.
A cold might look harmless, but it might NOT be in some cases. So why take risks?
If your dog looks unwell, your best bet is to contact your veterinarian. And as always, be ready to give your dog extra TLC.
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