Pet Parenting Corner: Can Dogs Catch a Cold?

by Anne B. Robinson

Let’s face it — your dog is more than just your best friend. Chances are, you consider your fluffy pet part of the family. And, like your children or other family members, you feel responsible for your pup’s health. You might need a vet to diagnose more severe illnesses, but can dogs catch a cold?

And what’s a cold, anyway? More importantly, how can you know if your dog’s got it? Stick around to hear how you can help your best bud should anything similar happen.

What’s a Cold?

People are often unaware that colds are, in fact, viruses. When they feel under the weather, and someone asks them whether it’s a virus, they tend to say: “Nah, it’s probably just a cold.”

As if that would somehow decrease the seriousness of their situation. But the truth is, a cold is a viral infectious disease no different from other viruses.

What this entails is that colds don’t just come out of nowhere. You can’t catch a cold only by being exposed to cold weather, as some tend to believe. Instead, it’s usually some of the rhinoviruses to blame for your cold. They survive well in dry air inside your home throughout the heating season.

These viruses usually affect the upper respiratory tract. That’s why your nose and throat always get the worst of it. And, because a cold is infectious, it easily gets transferred from one person to the next.

Can Dogs Catch a Cold?

dog will be able to get it from its canine friends

Unfortunately, your fluffiest member of the family can catch a cold, too. However, dogs’ colds aren’t quite the same as ours. Theirs are sometimes caused by bacteria like Bordetella bronchiseptica or viruses like parainfluenza. But the most common type of infectious disease in dogs is known as kennel cough.

Your dog will be able to get it from its canine friends. Since such respiratory illnesses are highly contagious, your good boy will be at risk of getting sick whenever it’s around other dogs.

Dog parks, daycare facilities, or even dog shows — these are the places you as a dog parent can fear. Unlike people, a man’s best friend knows nothing about social distancing.

Can Dogs Catch a Cold from Humans?

can dogs catch a cold from humans

While your canine BFF can get sick from its furry buddies, your cold shouldn’t pose a threat to its health. That’s because the viruses that cause colds are usually species-specific. As you now know, human colds occur thanks to rhinoviruses, while some other germs cause colds in dogs. Of course, that’s not the case with all viral and bacterial diseases.

You might have heard of several dogs getting covid-19 from their owners. And it wasn’t just dogs — many different animal species have proven to be “good hosts” to this illness. So, the question of whether you can get your dog sick comes down to the cause of your cold. Chances are, the cold you’ve got won’t infect your dog as it will likely be human-specific.

What Are the Symptoms of Your Dog Catching a Cold?

Even though colds in dogs are usually of a different origin than human colds, their symptoms are similar. The first thing you might notice is your dog’s tiredness or sleepiness and overall inactivity. Just like humans, sick dogs may also exhibit a decreased appetite. Other symptoms that are similar to human colds include:

  • a runny nose
  • cough
  • watery eyes
  • frequent sneezes
  • congestion

These symptoms are usually mild and don’t pose a considerable threat to your dog’s health. However, things can get a bit more complicated for flat-faced dog breeds. Since they’ve already got breathing difficulties, even a mild cold can make them quite sick. Thanks to their different nasal passages, these guys are at greater risk of developing a more severe illness, like pneumonia.

What You Should Do If Your Dog Catches a Cold

If you notice some cold-like symptoms in your dog, you’ll need to provide it with effective treatment. Bear in mind that, just like humans, dogs require special care when they’re sick. Therefore, you might want to keep your dog inside where it’s warm and cozy. Have your pup drink enough water, and surprise it with its favorite healthy meal.

You can also use a piece of cloth to wipe your dog’s nose to make breathing easier. Also, make sure your furry friend rests, because running and wild play aren’t advisable in such a situation.

Whatever you do, don’t give your dog human medications without talking to the vet first. Your dog’s veterinarian can also confirm the diagnosis and give you further instructions, so remember to pay them a visit.

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