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Can Dogs Catch Colds?

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The sniffles may not be life-threatening, but they’re certainly uncomfortable. An inconvenient fact of life is that the common cold is highly contagious and, well, common. If you catch a cold, there’s a good chance it’ll spread to other members of your household... but what about our four-legged household members?

Can Dogs Get Colds? 

The short answer is yes, dogs can get colds—but not in the way that you might think. 

A human cold refers to a strain of various airborne viruses that typically have similar results: sneezing, sniffling, coughing, runny nose, congestion, body aches, fatigue, and more. As irritating as they may be, colds are rarely life-threatening and typically go away on their own. 

Like humans, dogs can contract viruses with similar effects. You may notice your dog sneezing or coughing a lot; he may have a runny nose and watery eyes; he may show general signs of discomfort and lethargy. As with human colds, mild dog colds will typically go away on their own. 

The main difference between a human cold and a canine cold is the strain of the virus. While human and dog colds can be caused by various strains, these viruses are generally species-specific. 

In other words: your dog can’t catch your cold, and vice versa. If you and your pooch seem to have a cold at the same time, it’s probably coincidental. Go ahead and cozy up on the couch together for some much-needed rest and recovery! 

How Do Dogs Get Colds? 

Colds are typically contracted orally, meaning that a sick dog’s slobber is the most common culprit for a contagious cold. 

If your dog has a cold, there’s a good chance he got it from chewing on contaminated toys, sharing food and water bowls with other dogs, or cuddling and kissing a sick playmate

Because dogs don’t have natural immunity to cold viruses, it’s relatively easy for them to catch colds. If you find out about any dog cold outbreaks in your community, it’s best to take a break from visiting the dog park and doggie daycare until the bug has passed. 

Can dogs get colds?

Signs Your Dog Has a Cold

If your dog has a cold, you’ll notice similarities in your own cold symptoms. Common signs of a dog cold include: 

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Lethargy

It’s quite possible that your dog could also be experiencing a sore throat or feeling “off” in general, but unfortunately, he isn’t able to communicate those specifics; you may just notice some changes in his behavior as a result. 

It’s also worth noting that some common dog cold symptoms can be signs of other health issues such as allergies, respiratory issues, or another illness. 

Anytime you notice a change in your dog’s appearance or demeanor, it’s a good idea to contact your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Caring for Your Dog’s Cold

Once you start noticing signs that your dog has a cold, a good first step is to contact your vet. While most dog colds will go away on their own with plenty of rest and care, ruling out other health issues and getting proper advice from a vet is the safest option. 

If your dog’s cold is relatively mild, you’ll want to make sure he’s still eating and drinking in order to support his immune system. Encourage plenty of rest, top—don’t push your pup past his limits, or his recovery time will be longer. 

If your dog has watery eyes and a runny nose, you can gently wipe his face with a warm, damp cloth to ease any related discomfort. A humidifier may be helpful if Fido is feeling congested; you could also try running a hot shower while your dog is in the bathroom so he can reap the benefits of the steam. 

Never give your dog any medications unless they’re approved and prescribed by a vet. 

Keeping Your Dog Healthy During Cold Season

Because colds are caused by so many different virus strains, there is no cold vaccine. That said, it’s important to make sure your pup is up-to-date on all of his other vaccinations to keep his immune system strong. 

During the cold winter months, make sure your dog stays warm and dry to reduce his chances of getting sick. 

Cleanliness is key, too. Regularly clean your dog’s toys and bowls, especially if they’re shared with other dogs. Keep your dog clean, too—make sure your pup is sticking to his bath schedule

You are what you eat, so it makes sense that a healthy diet leads to a healthy dog. For an added boost, try Pet Honesty’s tasty, supplemental chews. For example, Turmeric Joint Health Chews and Allergy Support Chews both offer immune support along with several other benefits.