Can a Dog Get a Cold?

There are two myths floating around about dogs and colds. The first is that dogs don’t get them. That’s just not true. They get colds the same way humans do--through the spread of viruses from body to body. It actually has nothing to do with cold weather. In the winter, colds are more common because we’re far more likely to be in close quarters and the virus has more opportunity to spread. This is also why you can still get a cold in the summer. It’s all about the spread of the virus.

Which brings us to the second myth about dogs and colds--dogs and humans can’t give each other colds. The viruses that cause the illnesses are different. If you have the sniffles, your dog is safe and vice versa.

What are the signs of a dog cold?

If you’ve ever had a cold, it easy to recognize the signs of one in your dog. A runny  nose or runny eyes are good indicators. Sniffles, coughs, and sneezes are a few others. You may also notice your dog has low energy or isn’t eating as much as usual. Be on the lookout for a low grade fever as well.

Keep in mind that these symptoms are also common for other more serious illnesses. Kennel cough, influenza, and tuberculosis are all illnesses that can mimic the symptoms of a common cold.

How do I treat a dog with a cold?

The first step in treating a dog’s cold is to contact your veterinarian. As mentioned above, there are some serious illnesses that could mimic a cold. Also, if your dog is especially young or elderly, even a small cold can be a serious problem for a frail immune system.

Your vet may give you some medicine to keep the symptoms in check. Keep your dog warm and dry while he’s feeling sick. You’ll also need to keep the dog hydrated. Feeding him chicken soup with rice will encourage him to eat, keep him hydrated, and warm him up. Canned food might be helpful if your dog is drinking water regularly but you want to entice him to eat something, too.

Steam is also great for relieving stuffy noses. If you’ve got a humidifier handy, it might work for you dog. You can also have your dog lie down in the bathroom while running a hot, steamy shower for about ten minutes.