Sick As A Dog: Can Dogs Get Colds?

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Can Dogs Get Colds: Dog sick on bedDoes your dog have the sniffles? Watery eyes? Is he sneezing and coughing? Can dogs catch colds? Yes, they can, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the type of cold virus he’s caught (just as human colds can vary in severity). How do you know when your dog has a cold or something worse? How do you treat his symptoms? Not to worry — we’ll give you everything you need to know about dogs and colds so you can be sure you’re taking good care of your precious pup.

Can Dogs Catch Colds From Humans?

It’s a fairly common misconception that dogs and other pets can catch colds from humans. Although your dog’s symptoms may mimic yours when you have a cold, the viruses are different and don’t cross between species. So if you’re both sick at the same time, rest assured — it’s just an unfortunate coincidence.

What Dog Cold Symptoms Should You Look For?

What are dog colds symptoms? Like we said above, a dog’s cold symptoms can be very similar to human symptoms — a runny or stuffed up nose, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing. He may be more lethargic and not eat as much as usual. But it’s important to distinguish a cold from other dog illnesses that could be more severe.

Video: Dogs Sneezing

Watch this video we created to see some dogs with cold-like symptoms and to learn more more.

When Should You Call The Veterinarian?

If your dog is a young puppy or an old dog, his immune system may not be up to par so it’s best to check with your vet if he’s showing cold-like symptoms. If your otherwise robust dog exhibits severe symptoms, or is lethargic for more than a few days, contact your vet to make sure he hasn’t developed an infection that could require antibiotics or other treatment. And if your pup is experiencing vomiting and diarrhea along with cold-like symptoms, it could be an indication of a more severe illness.

How Should You Treat Your Dog’s Cold?

We all hate to see our pups suffer. Consider some of the following home remedies that can help alleviate cold symptoms.

Inhale Steam

Run a hot bath or shower so that steam builds up in your bathroom or use a common vaporizer in the room where your dog sleeps. Just as with humans, steam can help clear up his nasal passages.

Drink Fluids And Be Sure He Eats

Make sure your pup is drinking plenty of water and give him some good old chicken noodle soup. Any kind of soup is good for dogs with colds. Keep him hydrated! But be sure to avoid these foods, since they can be dangerous to dogs.

Get Rest

It’s probably not a good idea to take your pup on long walks until his symptoms improve, although he may not feel good enough to go walking anyway. Also, try to restrict play time for very active dogs (easier said than done, we know!).

Try Herbal Remedies

Herbs that are vitamin C rich help boost your dog’s immune system. Safe herbal remedies for dogs include elderberry extract or flowers, colloidal silver and mullein flowers. Check with a holistic veterinarian to make sure you’re giving your dog the appropriate amounts of herbs and for tips on how to administer them.

How To Stave Off The Sniffles

As the old saying goes, “prevention is the best medicine.” The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends dogs get vaccinated every year with the “5-in-1” vaccine that protects him from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. While this won’t completely protect him from the common doggie cold, it does protect him from more severe illnesses that share some of the same symptoms — and it helps boost his overall immune system. If your dog is sick and you’re still not sure if he has a cold or something else, err on the side of caution. Your veterinarian is the best judge.

Other Conditions To Rule Out

If you’re worried that your dog has something other than a common canine cold, here are some other illnesses and conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

  • Kennel Cough – an infectious virus that causes a cough with a loud honking sound, usually transmitted by dogs in a kennel environment – learn more about Kennel Cough
  • Influenza Virus – cold-like symptoms but typically with a fever – learn more about canine flu
  • Allergies – allergies to environmental conditions or food products are just as common in dogs as in humans – learn more about allergy symptoms
  • Parasites – a number of different parasites can get into a dog’s lungs and trachea and cause chronic coughing

And, as always, if your dog is sick, contact your vet and make sure you have pet insurance to save on the vet bill next time around.

How can you tell when your dog has a cold?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets). Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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May 1, 2020 9:36 am

We have two Rottweilers.. female is 2 and male is 3… the males appetite dropped and they both have mucus in their eyes every morning.. they are otherwise active through the day, but the very hyper male just wants to lay next to you and be petted at night. Are there any home remedies we can give them… not a huge fan of medicine.. thank you

Apiffany Gaither Billings
May 1, 2020 2:49 pm
Reply to  Lora

Hi Lora, we always recommend speaking with your vet regarding your dogs’ symptoms. The eye discharge, decreased appetite, and lethargy can have underlying causes including the flu, distemper, or other health concerns that require treatment. If you cannot take your dogs to your vet, perhaps this online vet service can help.

Penny the Boston
December 12, 2019 4:49 pm

I wouldn’t say chicken noodle soup or any soup is good for dogs unless homemade and without onions.

December 29, 2018 11:36 pm

Eucalyptus is highly toxic to dogs!

Sabrina VanArsdale
November 16, 2018 4:43 am

How do I get pet Insurance

Kimberly Alt
November 16, 2018 7:54 am

Hi Sabrina, great question! We’ve got many resources for you to consider. First, you can read about our top three picks for best pet insurance. Included on that page is our pet insurance quote form, which gives you pet insurance quotes for your specific pet. You can compare costs and choose the company you are most comfortable with.

Overall, getting pet insurance is as simple as filling out a form online. Let us know if you need help choosing a company. You can read our comparison of all pet insurance companies here.

Tracey Redman
November 4, 2018 6:50 pm

Thank you so much for this info!! I really appreciated it!!

Kimberly Alt
November 5, 2018 11:24 am
Reply to  Tracey Redman

You’re welcome! Glad we could help!

Lost doggy owner
October 11, 2018 11:44 pm

I’ve got a pup that just got over a cold. The pup is also due for his 2nd parvo shot. Is this a good idea or should I wait.
Does anyone know.

Kit Hannigan
October 5, 2018 1:37 am

I’m glad that you pointed out that you should check with your veterinarian immediately if your dog has been lethargic for more than a few days. My old dog started sneezing and heaving a few days ago. He has quieted down a bit, but he has been less energetic and active than he used to be. I’ll be sure to go look for a veterinarian that can prescribe us with proper medications.

March 24, 2018 2:12 am

Actually the common cold is zoonotic so dogs CAN get the cold from a person as can cats and other household pets

March 8, 2018 10:24 am

Dog of 18 months..runny nose..breathing funny when zzzzz ??? Acold?

December 28, 2017 7:13 am

5 in 1 vaccines for dogs are atrocious. Way too much for a pup to handle at one time. Also vaccines lower dogs immune systems. So your research. Big pharmaceutical Companies make billions selling (unnecessary) dog vaccines. They do them annually which is not necessary. Do we get vaccines annually? No we don’t, because once you get the vaccine you almost always won’t need to re vaccinate because your body now has the proper antibodies to fight the disease. After all the puppy shots are done, you can get a titer test every few years to ensure that your dog has the proper antibodies. It’s a simple blood test. Better than objecting toxic chemicals and other bad stuff every 12 months into your dog for no reason. Vet offices make BANK on having you get your dog vaxxed annually. Just remember it’s a BUSINESS.

February 26, 2018 2:09 pm
Reply to  Missy

Have you got any actual peer-reviewed evidence to back up your claims here? We do get some vaccination boosters such as tetanus, influenza, etc. on an annual to multi-annual basis so there is precedent in human virus treatment. There will be advice from the manufacturer on how regularly the vaccine should be administered based on scientific evidence. What are these toxic chemicals of which you speak?

October 8, 2018 3:16 am
Reply to  Chris

Something to consider; I have never gotten the flu vaccine and I have only had the flu once in my life. I literally have not been sick in 2 years now. I have watched so many people actually get sick right after getting the flu vaccine. Hmm. Toxic chemicals? Like mercury? Other heavy metals? Have you done YOUR research?

January 29, 2017 9:05 am

I have a 10 week old puppy that really sick possibility parvo. Can’t afford regular vet any idea if there is a vet the charges according to my income or possibility take payments please need help

January 18, 2019 11:43 pm
Reply to  Harry

Used pets alive and they saved both my pups. Was only 500 and that included the spay and their first shots. They take payments. This was in Austin Texas but you probably have a similar service where you are.

December 28, 2018 2:57 pm
Reply to  Harry

If tou can’t afford to care for your dog, you can’t afford a dog. Sorey that sounds unkind, but think of your puppy.

Mary B
April 9, 2018 10:59 pm
Reply to  Harry

Check with your local humane society ? They may know some vets that have programs.

March 24, 2018 2:15 am
Reply to  Harry

You are aware that most vets give you a bill that doesn’t have to be paid up front right. Also parvo is highly contagious so i’d quarantine and if the dog shows more signs of parvo then a bullet to the brain. No vet required there.

June 16, 2020 5:36 am
Reply to  Spartan

Why are you even on this conversation if you have no more compassion than that?!

May 5, 2018 9:29 pm
Reply to  Spartan

I’m surprised you weren’t slaughtered for that comment! Lol

Kimberly BengterButler
June 17, 2018 3:39 pm
Reply to  Lori

Just consider the source. When people are consumed with negativity & harshness. Pray their peace. They are full of torment that comes out their mouth. Clueless in that state.

December 6, 2018 1:43 pm

Wow you guys are so harsh

June 15, 2017 11:36 pm
Reply to  Harry

Harry, hope your doggie is ok. For the future, look for low cost vaccination clinics. In my area, you just pay for the shot usually around $12. In some areas, you don’t need to oay at all.

February 20, 2017 10:48 am
Reply to  Harry

Shouldn’t of got a dog if you can’t take it to the vet for regular vaccinations. Way to make your pup suffer

June 16, 2020 5:31 am
Reply to  Mary

Unfortunately, in life, circumstances out of our control do happen. Don’t judge people(God’s job). You don’t know others’ situations. At least they are trying to do something.

Carol owen
October 17, 2018 5:09 am
Reply to  Mary

Don’t be an a**!!

September 24, 2018 11:12 am
Reply to  Mary

Like all animals, you shouldn’t get it if you can’t afford for it to have a good life.

October 17, 2018 5:13 am
Reply to  Anonymous

A lot of people can’t afford to have children but they keep on having more

Kimberly BengterButler
June 17, 2018 3:14 pm
Reply to  Mary

Bless you

February 3, 2018 3:12 am
Reply to  Mary

Way to shut your BIG mouth Mary. If you can’t offer helpful advice, don’t say anything at all. You don’t know this person’s situation. Therefore you have no right to comment negatively.

Kimberly BengterButler
June 17, 2018 3:35 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

Right On

Hugh Mon Guss
March 27, 2018 11:39 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

Mary has every right to comment what ever she deems necessary you dumb ****.

Sean Jackson
May 29, 2017 1:19 pm
Reply to  Mary

Mary that’s not helpful. If you can help, then help. If you can’t or aren’t willing to then keep your mouth shut. We don’t know the situation or why Harry is economically strained.

March 24, 2018 2:19 am
Reply to  Sean Jackson

Yes but you still should not get a pet if you can’t properly care for it. That gives the animal a poor quality of life and makes it harder for the animal to live because now it can get sick. Also you HAVE to get rabies shots otherwise the dog will be put down if it bites someone because wow you have no way to prove that you vaccinated the dog because it never was vaccinated

October 26, 2018 8:25 am
Reply to  Spartan

You guys are clueless I take it. If this is the states that makes sence even though rabie shots messes up your and causes death. I know most of you guys are not high in educated imgur dogs vaccinations. Almost every breeder in the world will make you sign for NO RABIES shot. The United States is one of the only countries that force you to give your dog rabie shots and that’s said on the government side. Look into your research about vaccination and what is happening to the dogs. Most of the vets when it comes to shots is a cash cow…..

Kimberly Alt
January 30, 2017 9:24 am
Reply to  Harry

Unfortunately the type of vet care varies by location. I suggest calling local vets and seeing how they charge for services. Best of luck and I hope your pup gets better soon.