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Colds in dogs: A guide

Your pooch might seem under the weather, but can dogs get colds? Learn about colds in dogs, if they can catch colds from their human parents, symptoms, and more.

Can dogs get colds? 

Yes, but not in the same way humans do.

If you have a cold, you might wonder if it can be passed on to your four-legged friend. The answer is no. Dogs can’t catch the same cold virus that causes symptoms in humans. 

But, dogs can get infections that trigger cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, watery eyes and congestion. In the same way, dog colds are specific to the species, so you won’t be able to catch a cold from your dog either.

Discover everything you need to know about colds in dogs, including causes, dog cold symptoms, treatment options, prevention tips and more. 

What is a dog cold?

While dogs don’t get the same cold virus as humans, some common illnesses can make your dog show similar symptoms to having a cold, including:

  • Dog allergies – dogs can suffer from environmental and seasonal allergies like hay fever in humans
  • Kennel cough – a respiratory infection presented as a dry cough that sounds like honking, but usually goes away on its own
  • Canine distemper – a contagious viral infection that is potentially life-threatening. Your dog must be vaccinated against this with their initial puppy vaccinations
  • Respiratory conditions – certain breeds are prone to suffer from respiratory conditions, such as brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs, Pugs and Shih Tzus 

Canine flu

Dogs also can’t get the same type of flu as humans, but they can get canine flu. This is a respiratory disease caused by Type A influenza viruses that specifically infect dogs. 

Symptoms of canine flu are similar to flu in humans, such as sneezing, coughing and a runny nose. Once a dog is exposed to the illness, it can easily spread to other canines. So, if your dog is in contact with an infected dog, chances of them catching canine flu are high.

Canine flu can live on your skin for a few minutes, but up to a day on your clothes. If you’ve been in contact with an infected dog, you could pass it on to your pup. To prevent this, make sure to change and wash your clothes before you see any other dogs. 

Dog cold symptoms 

Dog cold symptoms are very similar to a human cold. Common signs to look out for are coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, lack of energy, runny nose and fever. 

Your dog may also have a congested nose, low energy, lethargy and a lack of appetite. Poorly dogs tend to sleep more than usual and show a lack enthusiasm to play.

How to treat a dog cold

Dogs with a cold should never be given human cold treatments. Instead, colds in dogs can mostly be managed with home remedies. But, if you suspect your dog has a respiratory infection then you should always contact your vet for the best course of treatment.  

Home remedies for dog colds include:

Give them warm food

Dogs with a cold can have a congested nose, which means they might not be able to smell their food. Warming your dog’s food can make it more fragrant, plus it will be softer and easier to enjoy.

Keep them hydrated

Like humans, dogs with colds need to stay hydrated to recover. Make sure to top up their water bowl often and give them plenty of fluids. 

Let them rest

A dog cold can make your pooch tired, so avoid walks if they’re not interested. If they are, keep the walk short and quiet, and avoid excessive exercise. They might sleep more than usual, but it’s normal for their body to need plenty of rest.

Use a humidifier 

Another human-like remedy, humidifiers can make it easier for your pup to breathe. Try placing a humidifier where they sleep to increase the humidity of the air and allow your dog to snooze peacefully.

Clean your dog’s things

It’s important to wash your dog’s blankets and clean their toys and other items they’re always in contact with. This will help to get rid of germs and prevent the spread to other dogs. 

How to prevent a dog cold

Dog cold symptoms can last between five and ten days, and they usually get better on their own. But there are ways to prevent your dog from getting ill in the first place.

Preventative measures that can boost your dog’s immunity include:

  • Make sure their vaccinations are up to date
  • Make sure they get 12-14 hours sleep every day
  • Give them a nutritious and healthy diet
  • Change their water daily
  • Use a dog coat to keep them warm during walks

Sainsbury’s Bank Dog Insurance

It isn’t just dog colds and flu that can affect your pup. Dogs can suffer from a variety of diseases and infections, so it helps to insure them. With Sainsbury’s Bank Dog Insurance, you’re protected financially if your four-legged friend needs treatment for any illnesses that may be disguised as a dog cold. We also offer cover if your dog already has a medical condition.

The best part is there are three types of cover to choose from. Whether it’s lifetime, maximum benefit or time-limitedyou’ll rest assured that your dog is in great hands – cold or not.

Frequently asked questions 

What does a dog cold sound like?

Colds in dogs can show in several ways, such as a runny nose, sneezing and congestion. Dogs might also have a cough that can sound like a honking goose. This can lead to gagging or retching. If your dog’s cough persists, it could be a sign of kennel cough, and you should speak to your vet for advice.

Should I worry if my dog has a cold?

Dog cold symptoms are similar to humans. They usually last between five and ten days and tend to go away on their own. You generally don’t have anything to worry about. But if your dog isn’t eating or drinking, or is still experiencing symptoms, it’s best to contact your vet immediately, as it could be another illness.

How can I soothe my dog’s throat?

Honey can be a great remedy to soothe your dog’s throat, especially if they have kennel cough. Mix 1/2 tablespoon of honey with some warm water in a bowl. This can be given up to three times a day depending on how often your dog is coughing. 

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