The common cold is a factor of human life. It is an illness that is most often experienced during the winter season. Colds usually are not a serious illness and people usually fully recover in about a week. But can dogs catch a cold?
Like humans, dogs can develop a cough, a sneeze, and congestion. However, a dog’s cold isn’t like a human cold. Bordetella bronchiseptica and other viruses such as the parainfluenza virus and the dog flu are causative agents of a dog cold. Dog colds are also known as kennel cough or canine tracheobronchitis which are caused by combinations of infectious agent and not just one.
What Is a Cold?
A cold is a general term used to describe a virus or an illness that causes several symptoms, usually tearing eyes, running nose, coughing, sneezing, and sniffing. In humans the common cold is the rhinovirus, though there are other viruses that can cause these symptoms. Humans that have a cold cannot infect their pets because the virus is specific to humans. Similarly, dog viruses cannot be passed to their pet owners or people who are around them.
When the term “cold” is used on a dog that has similar symptoms as humans, it refers to different viruses such as canine respiratory coronavirus, Bordetella also known as kennel cough, canine adenovirus type 2, or canine parainfluenza virus.
Symptoms of a Dog Cold
Signs of dog colds in Wilmington are very similar to that of humans. It’s difficult to differentiate a cold from other diseases such as the flu or respiratory infections. However, these are the most common symptoms of a dog cold. Common cold symptoms include:
- Fever (mostly the flu or pneumonia)
- Coughing (Dry honking noise could mean kennel cough)
- Watery eyes
- Congested or running nose
- Discharge from nose (yellow, white, or green material)
- Discharge from eyes
- Excessive sleep
- Lethargy (Less active than normal)
- Breathing problems
- Gagging cough leading to vomiting
Each breed has different symptoms. While these symptoms may indicate a cold, these may be due to serious illness, including parasites, canine bronchitis, canine distemper, or fungal infection.
Brachycephalic Breed Symptoms
In some breeds, like the Brachycephalic, or flat-faced breeds, common cold symptoms might be extremely serious. They are more prone to breathing problems and having a blocked nose might be harmful to their health. In these dogs, symptoms of the common cold are more extreme, and they include:
- Increased snoring
Because of the structure of their nose and nasal passages, these breeds may have much more congestion and respiratory difficulty. The trapped mucus will be more likely to become a serious infection like pneumonia.
Causes of Dog Cold Symptoms
Cold symptoms aren’t only caused by viruses, in fact other symptoms like coughing can be due to bacterial or parasitic infection such as roundworms, lungworms or heartworms. Allergies and fungal disease also cause symptoms that are similar to those of the cold and can lead to serious issues like damages to the tissues of the lungs.
How do I know if My Dog’s Cold is Getting Serious?
Once you’ve observed your dog has a cold, the first thing you need to check is how sick your dog is.
Here are Things to Look Out for:
- Canine influenza is a viral disease that may cause fever, discharge from eyes and nose, lethargy, lack of appetite and hacking cough.
- Kennel cough, which can be identified as Bordetella, has a honking or hacking sound when the dog coughs, and is especially common after your dog has been in boarding.
- Parasites are extremely common to many pets and animals. It may cause a change in appetite, constant coughing, vomiting, diarrhea and bloating.
- Canine distemper virus starts with producing eye discharge, lack of appetite, vomiting, fever, nasal congestion, nose discharge, lethargy, and coughing.
- Bronchitis causes coughing, wheezing for a long period of time, difficult breathing, and vomiting.
- Fungal infections may cause loss of appetite, discharge from nose and eyes, difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, skin lesions and eye inflammation.
It’s always safe to take your dog to the veterinarian if you suspect any respiratory infection. The vet can identify any other serious illnesses that are not a cold.
How to Treat a Dog’s Cold
If you ever suspect your dog is having a cold, always call your veterinarian. While a common cold might not be a huge cause, it always important to cancel out any diseases or serious illnesses.
The veterinarian will perform a physical exam of your dog, evaluating their major organs and may suggest diagnostic tests to be sure there are no serious conditions. Blood tests, fecal evaluation/ analysis and radiographs are tests that can help isolate the cause of your dog’s symptoms and offer the best remedy for your dog.
Treatments given to the dogs depend on how serious the cause of the infection might be. If the cause is just a mild cold, the illness will often resolve on its own in 5-10 days. If your dog’s condition turns out to be an infection such as the canine parainfluenza virus or the kennel cough, then your veterinarian would recommend a treatment that could include antibiotics for bacteria or secondary infections, fluids, and cough suppressants.
At Home Treatments
Dog owners can also treat their dog’s cold at home if it’s a mild cold. Treating a cold for dogs is just like treating a human cold:
- Always keep your dog warm and dry.
- Use a warm mist humidifier near your dog’s bed to keep them breathing in warm air.
- Limit exercises in winter seasons.
- Try to get your dog drinking more water. Water should be warm or room temperature.
- Give them an easy and healthy food to digest. For instance, boiling rice or making your own bone broth.
- Give your dog multivitamins. It’s best to visit the vet for recommended ones.
- Use a soft warm cloth to clean discharges from their nose and eyes.
- You could also add natural ingredients to your dog’s food, like honey and coconut. It helps fight infections.
- Let your dog rest and take naps as much as possible.
- Use some soothing balm on your dog’s nose if it’s chapped. Dogs should always have a moist nose for better breathing.
Yes, Dogs Can Get Colds in Wilmington
Overall, dogs can catch a cold and the best way to prevent them from getting one is by isolating them from any sick animals. Always visit the vet to assess your dog’s overall health and always get a doctor’s approval before giving your dog any form of medication. Medications that are safe for humans may not be safe for dogs.