Can Dogs Get Colds

Can Dogs Get Colds

Author WDF Staff


One of life’s most irritating things is the common cold. Humans catch it almost every cold season, and it causes us a serious case of sniffles, sore throat, coughing, and watery eyes. As dog owners, it is natural that we worry about our dogs. When the cold and flu season comes, we start to wonder, “Can dogs get colds?”

The shortest answer to the question “Do dogs get colds” would be - yes. They can experience symptoms similar to our cold, and we will do anything to help them get over it. Here is what you should know about dog colds.

What is a cold?

A “cold” is a word we use to describe a whole range of viruses that cause similar symptoms. A cold is usually nothing serious, and these viruses are grouped because they cause sore throats, runny noses, watery eyes, general malaise. The most common viruses that cause a cold are;

  • Rhinovirus (more than 50% of all cold cases)
  • Corona (not the SARS CoV 2, but a milder virus from the same family)
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Influenza virus
  • Parainfluenza virus

sick dog with blanket

Dog cold is similar to ours, and there is no “single” virus that causes cold-like symptoms. However, viruses that cause colds in dogs can be a lot more serious. We must treat dogs that got colds a bit more seriously than we treat ourselves.

Can dogs get colds from humans?

Here is some good news - the chance of giving your dog a human cold is extremely rare. Cold viruses, no matter which group they come from, rarely jump from species to species. You can safely feel your dog’s comfort while you’re having a cold; you will not infect them.

The same goes for dog colds. You will not get a cold from your dog. However, other dogs in your home are at risk, so make sure you isolate the infected dog until their symptoms blow over.

Dog cold symptoms

A dog infected with the cold virus will display symptoms like humans do when they catch a cold. You can probably recognize some of them if you ever had the displeasure of contracting the common cold;

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing

All of these symptoms are displayed when a dog catches a cold. Your safest bet would be to call your vet and ask for advice on your dog’s health. However, if you notice cold symptoms accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or changes in otherwise normal behavior, that can also mean something far more sinister. Cold symptoms combined with other symptoms can be a sign of;

sick dog at vet

These are all severe health concerns, and you should keep a close eye on your dog’s health in the next couple of days.

Can dogs get colds from other sources?

For dogs to get a cold, they will need to be infected by one of the viruses that belong to the “cold” family of viruses. Other viruses will cause different diseases, and some of them can have similar symptoms. However, other health issues will cause cold-like symptoms in dogs. Some of them include;

  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection (if left untreated can lead to pneumonia)
  • Parasites (heartworms and roundworms)

Luckily, most of these can be treated with specific drugs. If you want to learn more about getting rid of parasites in dogs, check out this article - Parasites in dogs.

How are dogs with colds treated?

Every dog owner will give you this advice - call your vet and ask for advice. If you suspect your dog has a cold, it would be best to contact your vet and ask for their advice. A mild dog cold is not threatening, but the vet will want to exclude other potential causes that can be far more dangerous.

The treatment of a dog with a cold will begin with a series of tests that your vet will recommend. They will perform fecal analysis, blood work, and radiographs can help your vet exclude other culprits. After all of them are ruled out, your vet will recommend your dog rests, takes a lot of fluids and cough suppressants, and an antibiotic if a secondary infection happens.

Can dog cold be prevented?

Unfortunately for our dogs and us, there is no vaccine for the common cold. There are too many viruses that can cause the cold, and it would be impossible to get a shot against all of them.

There are vaccines for other, more serious health issues like kennel cough, influenza, or distemper. Vets usually recommend some vaccines as early as a puppy’s eighth week of life. Check out this article for more information on vaccines - Puppy shot schedule.

The best thing you can do to avoid your dog getting infected is to listen closely to information about cold outbreaks. The dog owner community usually loves to share information because we all want to keep our puppies safe and healthy.

World Dog Finder team

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