Do Dogs Get Colds?

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The good news is that you can’t give your dog your cold. And you can’t catch a cold from your dog. But, your dog can have upper respiratory infections with symptoms like the common cold. He can cough and wheeze and be miserable just like you can.

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In your dog’s case, the culprit is usually kennel cough. Kennel cough produces a dry cough with a honking sound. It can be mild or severe. Dogs often contract it in kennels – as you might guess. They can get it in boarding kennels, animal shelters, and similar places where a lot of dogs come in contact with each other. It’s the equivalent of mingling with people at an airport and picking up the germs that are floating around.

Dogs can also have upper respiratory/cold symptoms from the adenovirus-2, influenza virus, and the parainfluenza virus.

Canine distemper is another virus that can cause a dog to cough, have a high fever, produce a thick discharge from the nose and eyes, and vomit.

Several parasites can produce symptoms in your dog that look like a cold. Fungal infections can also produce cold-like symptoms, especially when they develop in the lungs. Allergies can also produce symptoms that look like a cold, such as coughing and sneezing.

If your dog has symptoms like those of a cold, you can make things better for him by using a humidifier in the house. Make sure your dog continues to eat. Give him some special food if necessary to tempt his appetite. He should be on a regular diet of good dog food (or whatever diet you usually feed). Keep him warm and hydrated. If your dog is a puppy or elderly, which means his immune system might not be robust, you may want to take him to the vet to make sure he is able to fight off the problem.

If your dog has symptoms of a more serious problem, in addition to the “cold,” see your vet. Talk to your vet about whether or not your dog should get the intranasal vaccination for Bordetella when your dog has his checkup, especially if he spends much time around other dogs. And keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She's also the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Award winner for 2013. In addition, she's written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

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