Can Dogs Get Colds?
Can dogs get colds? As the weather turns cold and damp, you might be wondering if your dog can get a cold. Can a dog catch colds or the flu from humans, cats, or from each other? Are the symptoms similar for dogs as they are for humans? Here's a look at how the common cold bug works in dogs.
Dogs Rarely Catch Human Colds
A human's "common cold" virus actually isn't just one virus. More than 200 viruses can cause common cold symptoms in humans.1 The symptoms are relatively mild and include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and sometimes a mild fever. Dogs can have cold symptoms too, but only very rarely are these at all associated with the type of cold humans get. The chance of a dog catching a human cold isn't zero, but it's very rare.2
Experts say a dog might catch his owner's flu, but it is relatively uncommon. At least one case was reported with the 2009 H1N1 swine flu, for example.3 But you don't need to spend any time worrying your dog will catch your cold or flu.
Dogs Have Their "Own" Cold Viruses
Even though it's virtually impossible for a dog to catch a cold from a human, dogs have their own species-specific "cold" viruses that cause similar symptoms. So yes, dogs can catch colds from each other.
Dog "colds" can be caused by several different virus types,4 or it could be a different illness that mimics the cold.5 Kennel cough is very contagious among dogs living in close quarters and can sometimes be serious in puppies or dogs with weak immune systems. If you are concerned about your pup's symptoms, talk with your veterinarian.
Dogs Can Get Their Own "Dog Flu"
On top of these cold-like viruses, dogs also have their versions of the flu called canine influenza that can be very contagious. Two different respiratory viruses can cause this.6 One spread from horses to dogs, and the other originated in birds. There has never been a recorded case of a human catching dog influenza.
Flu symptoms in dogs are similar to cold symptoms. Some dogs may not have any symptoms, and some dogs might get a more serious case. Check with your vet if you have questions about your dog's symptoms or how to treat your pup.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Sick
What are the symptoms of a cold in dogs? They can include lethargy, sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, a fever, or watery eyes. Essentially, a dog's cold symptoms are very similar to the symptoms you might have yourself.
If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it's best not to guess what's wrong with your dog. Just make an appointment with the veterinarian if your pup displays any symptoms similar to a cold. This will rule out any more serious causes and give you a clear picture of treatment options.
Caring for Your Dog at Home
After you've gone to the vet, make sure your pup drinks a lot of water and eats on a consistent schedule.7 Some dogs might prefer canned food or even a little extra water in their food if they have a sore throat. You might want a K&H CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl with Reservoir, so your dog has plenty of water to drink and stays hydrated.
Follow all your veterinarian's orders, and clean or wash his bedding and toys regularly. You might consider using a humidifier at home if that makes your dog more comfortable.
You want to do whatever you can to help your dog feel as cozy as possible. A sick dog needs all the TLC she can get. Smaller dogs and puppies might find comfort with a Mother's Heartbeat product. These items recreate the feel and sound of a mother dog's heartbeat and help reduce anxiety and stress in puppies.
Your dog may love a Self-Warming Lounge Sleeper. This bed has special warming material to keep your pet cozy without needing to be plugged in. The Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper, on the other hand, plugs in and heats to your dog's body temperature, helping him stay toasty.
If you think your pup would prefer an enclosed bed, consider the K&H Self-Warming Hut. This is for pets that crave extra privacy. If your dog prefers snuggling down into a thicker, larger bed, then consider the Cuddle Cube. Any of these beds would be great for a dog that's feeling a little under-the-weather.
Can Your Dog Infect Other Pets in Your Home or Vice Versa?
Many dog viruses are highly infectious to other dogs, so a sick dog may need to be separated from your other dogs just to be safe. Ask your veterinarian whether you should do this.
The good news is that cold viruses typically don't jump species between dogs and cats.8 It's worth noting a few rare cases of the H3N2 flu being passed from dogs to cats in South Korea, so there's a rare chance certain flu strains might jump species.9 In addition, some bacteria and infections might be passed between cats and dogs. So it's best to talk to your veterinarian about what's causing your dog's illness and how much separation he needs from other pets.
No one wants to see their best friend feeling sick. But sadly, dogs can catch many kinds of illnesses, including their own version of the cold. So make sure you involve the professionals. And after you bring your dog home from the vet, give him lots of extra love and attention. This is the time to spoil your Good Boy and shower him with affection until he feels better.
1. WebMd. "What's Causing My Cold?" WebMD.com, 8 May 2019, https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/common_cold_causes.
2. Burke, Anna. "Can Dogs Get Colds?" American Kennel Club, 23 August 2017, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/can-dogs-get-colds/.
3. Oregon State University." Can You Really Give Your Dog or Cat the Flu?" Today.OregonState.edu, 3 October 2012, https://today.oregonstate.edu/archives/2012/oct/onset-flu-season-raises-concerns-about-human-pet-transmission.
5. Animal Clinic of Woodruff. "When Pets Get the Sniffles: Understanding Cold Symptoms in Dogs and Cats." AnimalClinicofWoodruff.com, https://www.animalclinicofwoodruff.com/pet-blog/87/When+pets+get+the+sniffles+Understanding+cold+symptoms+in+dogs+and+cats.
5. Burke, Anna, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/can-dogs-get-colds/.
6. CDC. "Key Facts About Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)." CDC.gov, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/other/canine-flu/keyfacts.html#.
7. Feinn, Lily. "Can Dogs Catch a Cold?" The Dodo, 17 October 2017, https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/do-dogs-get-colds-flu.
8. Williams, Jane, "Is a Kitty's Cold Contagious to Dogs?" The Nest, https://pets.thenest.com/can-dogs-cats-catch-human-colds-viruses-5645.html.
9. Oregon State University, https://today.oregonstate.edu/archives/2012/oct/onset-flu-season-raises-concerns-about-human-pet-transmission.