Cold and flu season is upon us, meaning it’s time to brace for several months of sneezing and sniffling. After all, the common cold is highly contagious. Given the context of the ongoing pandemic, many of us are becoming increasingly aware of how and whether germs and viruses are spread from person to person… or animal.
How contagious is the common cold, anyways? Can dogs catch colds from humans or vice versa? Do dogs even get colds?
What is a Cold?
Colds are airborne viruses contracted through the nose or mouth. When people reference a human cold, they’re generally talking about a variety of viruses that all have similar outcomes: sneezing, sniffling, sore throat, head and body aches, runny nose, congestion, fatigue, and more.
As irritating as a cold can be, it’s generally a pretty minor ailment that often goes away on its own when paired with plenty of rest and care.
Can Dogs Get Colds?
While dog “cold” symptoms are nearly identical to those in a human cold, there’s one major difference: the strain of the virus.
The difference in virus means that colds can’t be passed from one species to another (though researchers are always learning more). Basically, you don’t necessarily need to worry about keeping your distance from your dog if one of you has the sniffles.
Mild canine colds, like human colds, will often go away on their own. If you don’t see improvements after a week or so, though, contact your vet. You should seek advice from a medical professional at any point if your dog is experiencing severe discomfort, is having trouble breathing, or is reluctant or struggling to eat or drink.
Because common dog cold symptoms can also be signs of other ailments, it never hurts to alert your vet anytime your dog seems “off.” What looks like dog cold symptoms could also be an indicator of something else, including seasonal allergies, respiratory issues, or more serious health conditions which may need medical treatment or additional intervention.
Anytime you notice changes in your dog’s appearance or behavior, it’s a good idea to consult your vet to rule out any potential causes of concern.
Caring for Your Canine’s Cold
While mild dog colds will generally go away on their own, there are a few steps you take to help your pooch feel more comfortable in the meantime.
For example, you can take a warm, damp washcloth to gently wipe your dog’s runny nose or watery eyes to ease his discomfort. For a congested canine, try using a humidifier, or allowing your dog to hang out in a steamy bathroom while you run a hot shower.
Make sure your pup is getting plenty of food and water, too. He may not have much of an appetite, but try your best to encourage him to eat and drink with plenty of positive reinforcement.
Rest is also crucial—it’s never a good idea to push Fido past his physical limits, but it’s extra important to allow plenty of time for rest and recovery when your dog is feeling under the weather.
Keep in mind that home remedies should only be used to supplement vet visits, rather than replace them altogether. Additionally, never give your dog any medications without vet approval, even if they were originally prescribed for another dog.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
While there is no vaccine for canine colds, there are still plenty of ways to promote your dog’s health and wellness and reduce his chances of getting sick.
Make sure your pooch is up-to-date on all of his immunizations to keep additional health issues at bay. During the colder months, take extra care to keep your dog warm and dry to reduce his chances of getting sick.
Cleanliness is also crucial. Clean your dog’s toys, food, and water bowls regularly, and make sure Fido isn’t skipping any of his baths.
Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, too. In fact, many mental health issues will appear in physical form. Keep an eye on your dog’s disposition, and make sure he’s getting plenty of sleep (about 12-14 hours per night).
A well-balanced, high-quality diet will also support your dog’s overall health. For added immune support, try PetHonesty’s tasty, supplemental chews such as 10-for-1 Multivitamin or Digestive Probiotics Chews.
If your dog or other dogs in the neighborhood happen to catch a canine cold, it’s best to keep some temporary distance to avoid a potential outbreak.