Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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Health Learn About Dogs

Can Dogs Get Colds?

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Anna Olson
Aug 28 ·

Are you worried you’ll give your pooch a runny nose and cough? How do you help your dog through a cold? Will they be dangerous to other dogs? Can dogs get colds?

The short answer? Yes and no. There are a few pathogens which cause cold and flu-like symptoms in dogs. However, your dog won’t catch a cold from you or other humans.

can dogs get colds

Dog Specific Pathogens Cause “Colds”

Very few viruses and bacteria pass from humans to dogs, and vice versa. Most colds in humans are caused by a group of viruses called Rhinoviruses. For dogs, however, the cause is more likely a Bordetella bacteria, or the canine parainfluenza virus. You’re also unlikely to hear this condition called a cold, as it’s more often called canine cough or kennel cough.

While you can rest assured that you can’t give your dog a cold, the bacteria and viruses that cause respiratory infections in dogs are still very contagious and can be very dangerous. At best, they can still make your dog as miserable as you are when you have a cold.

Symptoms Of Doggy Respiratory Infections

If you’ve ever had a cold, a few of these symptoms will probably feel familiar to you. Symptoms of canine cough or kennel cough include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny Nose
  • Eye Discharge
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite or Thirst
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Fever (this is more likely a symptom of canine flu)

If you notice these last three symptoms, contact your vet right away. These could be signs that your dog has pneumonia, which will need immediate veterinary attention, possibly supplemental oxygen. It’s also important to warn your vet ahead of time that your dog has these cold-like symptoms, since they may come into contact with other dogs at your vet’s office or an emergency vet hospital.

Can Dogs Get Colds? Helping Your Doggo At Home

As long as your dog is still eating, drinking, and breathing normally, you can use a few home remedies to help them through a case of canine cough. Don’t be afraid to contact your vet if symptoms get worse.

Giving your dog fluids during a cold is very important. Make sure they always have fresh, clean drinking water. You can also add a yummy low-sodium broth to their food. Like with humans, nothing helps a doggy cold like warm chicken or beef broth. Just make sure it doesn’t have ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like garlic and onion. Tuna juice is another great option, especially if they’re having difficulty smelling their normal food because of nasal congestion.

Some dogs really benefit from being in the bathroom with you while you shower. The steam can help relieve some of that nasty congestion. For your dog’s comfort, keep their eyes and face clear of discharge. If it’s stuck on, use a wet, warm compress to soften it up before wiping.

Rest is often the best medicine for a human cold, and the same is true for a doggy cold. Letting your dog run around while they’re sick isn’t a great idea. Normal walking should be fine, but consider using a harness instead of a collar to remove pressure from your dog’s trachea. Do your best to keep your dog away from other dogs while they’re sick. Like with humans, the viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory infections are very contagious in dogs.

If your dog is coughing excessively, don’t give them human cough medicine. This often has ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Talk to your vet about canine-specific cough medicine and remedies.

Preventing Doggy Respiratory Infections

Preventing your dog from getting canine or kennel cough is actually pretty easy. First, make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccines and booster shots. These include shots for Bordetella and kennel cough, along with other dangerous conditions like rabies and distemper. Even though your dog can still get Bordetella and kennel cough after vaccination, there is a better chance the symptoms will be mild. Your dog is also less likely to get pneumonia from these pathogens if they’re vaccinated.

Second, try to limit contact with other dogs in indoor situations. Pathogens like Bordetella and canine influenza virus pass easier between dogs in enclosed spaces. Obviously, if you take your dog to daycare or training classes, these situations are unavoidable. This is why most doggy daycares and training facilities require Bordetella and kennel cough vaccinations before allowing a dog to join.

Now you know whether dogs can get colds. While dogs can develop cold and flu-like symptoms, these aren’t caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold in humans. As long as symptoms are mild, there are a few steps you can take at home to help your pup recover. The best way to prevent these infections is to keep your dog up to date on their vaccinations.

So can dogs get colds? Yes.

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WRITTEN BY
Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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