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Can My Dog Catch a Cold?

Written by Anna Hollisey

Updated

cocker spaniel having a duvet day

Pass the tissues! It’s cold season – and that means coughs and sniffles abound. Can our dogs catch a cold from us, and what about COVID-19? What symptoms can our dogs suffer during the winter? 

Will My Dog Catch My Cold?

The common cold has many varieties and is highly contagious. It thrives during winter, when people get less exposure to immune-boosting sunlight and spend more time indoors, together. The cold air slows down mucus production, which is our first line of defense against viruses. 

The common cold can be identified by three key symptoms: a blocked nose, cough and sore throat. They’re caused by your body’s attempts to fend off germs. Flu (influenza) usually also brings a fever or high temperature. 

When you catch one of the common viruses which invariably circulate during the winter months (peaking in February), you may start to worry that your dog will pick it up too.

Here’s some good news: our dogs don’t catch the human cold virus. 

If you’re now wondering “… so why does my dog have a runny nose?”, here are the canine viruses that could be affecting them…

Does Your Dog Have Canine Flu?

Canine influenza has similar symptoms to the human cold, but it’s not caused by the same virus. It was discovered in horses in the 20th century and by 2004 it was found in greyhounds; now H3N8 or H3N2 influenza spreads quickly between dogs. 

Dogs can only catch dog colds from other dogs; so be vigilant when visiting other people with pets. Dog flu won’t live on your skin but it can be transferred via your clothes. 

The symptoms of dog flu include:

  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • A high temperature (not always).

The virus poses a higher risk for puppies, older dogs, and Brachycephalic breeds, in whom flu can become a more serious respiratory infection. 

If your dog has contracted canine flu:

  • Encourage them to drink fluids
  • Let them rest and avoid longer walks
  • Keep away from other dogs and dog parks.

Does Your Dog Have Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough comes with a very distinctive, ‘hacking’ cough, a bit like croup in babies. It’s very contagious and poses a risk for young dogs or dogs with suppressed immune systems. 

The symptoms of KC can masquerade as canine influenza, so keep an ear out for that loud and strenuous cough. 

If you suspect that your dog has kennel cough, take them to the veterinarian, who will be able to prescribe antibiotics and cough medication. You can also have your dog vaccinated against kennel cough, which is helpful if your dog stays at boarding kennels or doggy day-care. 

Does Your Dog Have Winter Allergies?

Dogs have a catalog of allergies almost as big as humans have. In winter, they’re exposed to airborne mold and dust mites, with limited air circulation as we all shut our windows and doors. Symptoms of allergies include itchy skin and a runny nose – so if your dog doesn’t seem to be recovering from the sniffles, it might be an allergy. 

Regular vacuuming, removing mold, and using a humidifier can help to improve the air conditions inside your home. But if your dog is showing long-term symptoms during the winter months, it’s time to take them to the vet, who may recommend trying a dog-safe antihistamine. 

How to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System for Winter

Summer or winter, there’s never a bad time to give your dog’s immunity a little boost. Soothe is our supplement for dogs who have digestive, allergic, or immunity issues. It’s loaded with ingredients like Omega-3 fish oil, egg membrane and postbiotics to help them digest their food and fight illnesses more effectively.