Do Dogs Get Colds? What Do I Do If My Dog Has A Cold?

Come winter time, we get especially wary about our well-being as well as that of our little precious Fidos since the chances of getting ill take a significant rise during this season.

And, speaking about feeling ill and getting sick, one of the first things that come to mind when we think about winter season is catching colds.

So, what’s the deal here?

Should you be worried about this or is this something that’s never going to happen to your dog? Can dogs get colds from something in the environment around them?

Or, even worse, what if you have a cold yourself and you’re afraid of having your dog hang out around you and get close to you because you might pass it on to them? Can dogs catch colds from humans?

Let’s have a look at all of this and more in the sections below, shall we?

Can Dogs Get Colds?

Even though the type of cold you and I catch is somewhat different and not exactly identical to the cold dogs can catch, yes, dogs can very well catch colds in their day to day lives.

Can Dogs Catch Human Colds?

First off, we always get asked about whether dogs can catch colds from humans, since many dog owners are often afraid that they’re going to get their dogs sick if they’re feeling under the weather themselves.

Fortunately, the answer to this question is an absolute NO, dogs cannot catch human colds, so this is one less thing you have to worry about when you’re ill yourself.

Any information out there on the internet or anyone that tells you that dogs can catch a cold from humans is only repeating a myth that quite simply isn’t even close to reality.

Can I Catch My Dog’s Cold?

Even though there are a few illnesses here and there that humans can give dogs and vice versa, colds aren’t one of these illnesses and, just like your dog can’t catch a cold from you, you also can’t catch a cold from your dog.

The only living being dogs can catch a cold is from other dogs, just like the only living being you and I can catch a cold from is another human.

Can Dogs Catch Colds From Each Other?

One thing you have to be very careful about when one of your dogs at home has a cold is the fact that one dog can very well catch a cold from another dog.

For this reason, whenever you have a dog with a cold at home (or any other illness that may be contagious for that matter), make sure that they in no way, shape or form come in any contact with other dogs you also have at home, or else your other dogs are also more than likely to catch a cold as a result.

Not only do you want to make sure that any dog you have at home with a cold does not come in contact with other dogs you may also have, but you also want to make sure that no products/household items/pet accessories/etc .. which your dog that has a cold uses are also used by other dogs you have at home.

For example, dogs that have a cold must have their own dog toys which only they play with, must have their own bed and all the accessories that come with it which only they sleep on, must have their own food/water bowl which only they eat/drink from, and so on.

Dog Cold Symptoms

Depending on how bad of a cold your dog has caught, the symptoms they experience may be light symptoms if they’ve got a mild case or they may be very apparent and intense symptoms if your dog has caught a serious cold.

So, what are the symptoms that your dog will usually show if they’ve caught a cold? How can you tell when your dog has a cold and they aren’t going through something else that may be similar?

Here’s a list of the most common symptoms you have to be on the lookout for when your dog has a cold.

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Eyes become watery
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffed nose that causes difficulty breathing comfortably
  • Decrease in energy and/or willingness to move around as much
  • Excessive sleeping when compared to normal times
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Fever

As you may have already noticed from the aforementioned list of symptoms, the signs your dog shows when they’ve caught a cold are very much similar to the signs you and I would show when we usually catch a cold as well.

Keep a very close eye on your dog and actively monitor their condition during this phase to see how their symptoms are acting out.

If you notice the symptoms are decreasing and gradually going away, then this is good news and means your pooch is getting better and better, slowly making its way to recovery and back to normal.

However, if you notice that any of your dog’s symptoms (whether it’s one of them or several symptoms) is getting worse and increasing in intensity instead of gradually fading away, then immediately get into contact with your veterinarian and notify them of the situation.

If your dog hasn’t yet been prescribed medicine by your veterinarian, they may decide that now is an appropriate time for medical intervention, and if your dog has already been prescribed medicine to help with their cold, then your vet may determine that a change in dosage or even the medicine itself needs to be done.

Generally speaking, any symptoms associated with a cold your dog has caught will go away after a few days (usually 3 days is most common) and your dog will get back to normal.

However, if you notice that any of these symptoms is still present in your dog beyond the period of a few days to a week, then you should get your dog checked on by professional animal care personnel.

A Quick Note About Vomiting & Diarrhea

A very common mistake we see many dog owners make is dismiss their dog’s vomiting and/or diarrhea as “just another symptom”, while in reality it’s not.

The moment you notice that your dog is vomiting and/or experiencing diarrhea, you should let your veterinarian know about it on the spot, as vomiting and/or diarrhea most often means that your dog hasn’t caught a cold but is going through a more serious health problem.

What Do I Do If My Dog Has A Cold?

Now that we’ve covered everything you have to know about determining whether or not your dog has caught a cold, this section will let you in on all the information you need to know to help your dog get over their cold and feel better, as well as protect them and help them avoid catching a cold in the future.

Veterinary Opinion: First thing’s first, you should always talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s condition so they can assure you about whether it’s a cold your dog is suffering from or something else that could possible be more dangerous.

Even if it’s just a minor cold and your veterinarian has ruled out the possibility of a more serious health issue being present, they may specify certain medications that you need to give to your dog in order to recover from their cold in a fast and efficient manner.

When trying to help your dog recover from a cold, you should never attempt to give them any sort of medication on your own and without a veterinarian’s opinion on the issue, as there are many factors that differ from one dog to another and before you know it, you could get your dog into serious trouble (health wise).

Besides talking to your veterinarian and getting a professional opinion on the issue, here are some very helpful practices you can do when you’re sure that your dog has a cold and isn’t suffering from any other medical condition you may have mistook for a cold.

Hydration: Making sure your dog is properly hydrated throughout the day is crucial in helping them get over their cold and feel better in no time.

A dehydrated body also means a very weak immune system, one that’s not able to beat the cold as fast and as effectively as a strong immune system of a dog that’s properly hydrated.

So, you have to make sure that your dog is getting more than the usual amount of water they normally drink on a daily basis, but be sure not to over-do it to the point where your dog gets bloated, as that’s a whole other huge health risk of its own.

Giving your dog any fluids other than water (and soup, of course), such as juices and whatnot, is not a good idea as far as helping them remain hydrated and get over their cold is concerned.

Stick only to plain, good ol’ water and natural soup.

Proper Food: Feeding your dog proper food is also a very important issue to keep in mind during times like this.

A perfect combination of proper food and ensuring proper hydration for your dog when they’ve caught a cold is to feed them chicken soup, which works on dogs just as well as it works on you and I when we have a cold.

Make sure to serve your dog their chicken soup only when it’s slightly warm, though, as the last thing you want to do is give them chicken soup to delve in while it’s very hot – they’ll easily get burned and will still have to deal with their cold, not fun!

Also, and speaking about proper food, the majority of dogs will tend to resist eating dry dog food when they’ve got a cold and aren’t feeling very well, and will almost always prefer to eat canned dog food instead until they feel better and their cold goes away.

So, if you’re used to feeding your dog only dry dog food, you may have to bare with making temporary switch until your dog gets back to normal.

The last thing you want to happen is for your dog to barely eat during their illness, so feeding them wet dog food is much better than having them not eat anything at all.

Warm Temperatures: Just like you and I should remain warm in such a situation and stay as far away as possible from anything of cold temperature, the same holds true for your dog when they have a cold themselves.

Keep your dog in a warm room at all times, keep them indoors for most of the day where it’s warm and greatly limit their privilege to go outside since it’s cold and may be raining, don’t let them sleep on the cold ground, consider investing in something like a dog heating pad to help them feel warm throughout this season, etc ..

These are just a few ideas, the main point here is that you should be doing anything and everything within your power to ensure your dog is warm and cozy until they get better and recover from their cold.

Help With Difficulty Breathing: Speaking about warm temperatures, there’s a couple of tricks you can do to help your dog breath easily through their nose again if it happens to be stuffed because of the cold your dog’s caught, and that’s by having them breath through steam.

You can do this very easily by running your shower for a minute or two with hot water, letting the steam fill the area and bring your dog along so they can breath through it and get their nose to operate as good as new again.

Obviously enough, you should only let your dog breathe the steam and not let them stand under the flowing water, as there’s no reason they should be doing that and no one wants to subject their dogs to boiling hot water.

Of course, the positive effects of this technique won’t last your dog throughout the whole day, but there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of this method and applying it a few times a day to help Fido out.

On average, around 5 to 10 minutes breathing from the steam crated does wonders to your dog’s stuffed nostrils.

Limit Physical Activity: During times when your dog is suffering from a cold, physical activity has to take a backseat for a while, unfortunately.

Not only will your dog feel lethargic and not really into moving around as much as they used to, their body also needs to rest in order to recover properly.

Any strenuous exercise will do much more harm than good during this phase, so keep that in mind until your dog’s cold is long gone and they’re back to normal.

Can I Give My Dog Medicine Meant To Treat Human Colds?

Besides at home treatment for dogs suffering from cold, another very common question we get asked by worried dog owners all the time is whether or not they can safely give their dogs medicine meant to treat colds in humans.

The answer to this is not without the supervision of your veterinarian.

If you give your dog medicine meant to treat human colds without the proper supervision of a veterinarian, there’s a huge risk that you’ll be giving your dog medicine that includes certain ingredients that may be fatal to dogs, you may easily get the dosages wrong and your dog will suffer severe health complications as a result, etc ..

Some medicine meant to treat human colds may be terrible for your dog, while others may be perfect for your dog in just the right dosages, an issue which should be left for your veterinarian to decide and advise you on since they’re the expert in the field.

A Quick Note About Puppies/Senior Dogs & Colds

Getting your veterinarian’s opinion on your dog’s condition whenever you see any symptoms that suggest they’ve caught a cold becomes an absolutely essential thing to do when your dog is either still a young and growing puppy or a senior dog that’s now of old age.

This is due to the fact that the immune system of puppies and senior dogs alike is oftentimes a relatively weaker one than the immune system a grown adult dog has, and such relatively weak immune systems can sometimes translate into your dog getting really ill and see their health seriously deteriorate real fast if their cold is not treated right away.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting A Cold?

After we’ve covered everything there is to know about how to deal with a cold whenever your dog catches one, you’re now probably wondering how you can prevent your dog from catching a cold ever again in the future.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Besides taking real good care of your dog during the phase in which they’re fighting their cold and trying to get better, there isn’t much you can do to prevent your dog from catching a cold in the future, unless you decide to have them live in a quarantine for the rest of their life, something obviously no one in their right mind wants to do.

Dogs that live a normal and healthy life interacting with other dogs and being exposed to different environments in different seasons are likely to catch a cold at least once in their life, since we obviously can’t control what’s in the air that our dogs breathe in their day to day lives.

You can surely decrease the chances of your dog getting a cold by being a smart dog owner during winter season and ensuring your dog is warm at all times, is safe indoors when it’s raining and isn’t outside soaking wet and “having fun”, etc ..

But, when it comes down to it, there’s no practical way to absolutely remove any chances of your dog ever catching a cold in the future, unfortunately.


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