Can Dogs Catch A Cold?

When your pup gets the sniffles, it’s time to head to the vet 🐶🤒

As chilly weather sets in, many of us reach for the vitamin C hoping to stave off the common cold. You won't find a dog buried in a pile of tissues, but our pets are just as susceptible to respiratory infections as we are.

If your pup is coughing and sneezing, here’s what you can do to help him stay in tip-top shape this winter:

Can dogs get colds?

“Dogs can definitely catch a common cold,” Dr. Kate Earl of DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Portland, Oregon, tells The Dodo.

While human cold season lasts from September through April, there doesn’t seem to be a season for dog colds. But thankfully, you don’t have to worry about passing on your sore throat to your pup, or the other way around.

“It is very unlikely that dogs and humans can swap cold viruses,” Earl explains. “However, colds can definitely be transmitted to another dog and can sometimes be transmitted to another animal species.”

If your normally playful and energetic pup doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, that can be a clear sign he’s feeling under the weather. Look for symptoms similar to a human cold, Earl notes, which can include a cough, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and lethargy.

If your dog is sick, it’s best to keep him out of doggy daycare and away from the dog park. As with humans, to avoid cross-contamination, you don’t want your pet sharing food and water dishes with other animals.

While some people may treat their coughing as no big deal, with a dog, it’s best to visit a vet before trying any at-home remedies. “It’s important to get their symptoms checked out, because cold symptoms can also be a result of a more serious condition, like kennel cough, dog flu, bronchitis, bacterial infection or more,” Earl explains. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make your pup some dog-friendly chicken soup — just be sure to see a professional first.

Treatment & prevention

“Once you’ve visited the vet and determined that your dog has an everyday cold, you can help your pup feel better by keeping them warm and rested,” Earl notes. “Be sure they drink plenty of water and eat consistently, so their body is strong enough to fight the cold.” Owners should be sure to follow their doctor's orders, and never give their dogs medications not prescribed by their vet.

If the symptoms worsen or last more than a week, it’s time to head back in for a checkup. To help prevent dogs from catching another cold, owners should make sure to clean their pet’s toys, food dishes, water dishes, beds and blankets regularly, as well as stay up-to-date on vaccinations.

What about allergies?

“Dogs can absolutely suffer from seasonal allergies,” Earl says. “Generally, allergy symptoms include skin irritation or inflammation. If you notice that your dog is scratching excessively or chewing at certain areas of their body, it would be a good idea to get your dog checked out.”

With all the pollen, dust and mold swirling around in the air, playing in the yard could leave your pup with red puffy eyes or irritated chin and paws. Head to the vet if you notice your dog has spots of sensitive or raw skin.

“Your veterinarian can often prescribe a medication that can help your pup feel more comfortable,” Earl notes. “They might also instruct you to give them frequent baths or foot soaks and feed your pet a special diet.”

To lessen symptoms, keep your pet’s environment as clean as possible, including the floors and their bedding. Air filters can also help minimize environmental contaminants, and keep your pup away from smoke and scented sprays.