A cold in humans is an infection caused by a wide range of viruses, commonly called viral infections. It usually affects the upper levels of your respiratory tract – the nose and throat, causing symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, etc. But is a doggy cold the same as a human cold? And just how do you treat a cold in a dog?

Cold season is upon us, so why don’t we find out?


  1. Can Dogs Get Colds?
  2. Dog Cold Symptoms
  3. What Causes Colds in Dogs?
  4. How to Treat a Dog Cold: How the Vets Do It
  5. What Can I Give My Dog for a Cold?
  6. How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting a Cold
  7. Emergency Fund
  8. FAQ

Can Dogs Get Colds?

Yes, dogs can get colds. Kind-of.

According to research, doggy colds are very similar to human colds, coming with all the same symptoms and lasting for roughly the same length of time. They are not caused by the same thing, however. Human colds are caused by different viruses to doggy colds (which are also sometimes caused by bacteria), and vice versa.

As a dog owner, it is wise to remember that the symptoms of a classic cold can also be the same symptoms presented by a wide range of other health complaints, including serious medical conditions. For that reason, you should monitor your pet and seek veterinary advice if symptoms get any worse or don’t go away.

Dog Cold Symptoms

The symptoms of a dog cold are pretty much exactly the same as that of a human cold:

Some dogs will display all these symptoms. Others will display only one or two. You know your pet better than anyone else, so you will know what has changed.

If you aren’t always at home to catch the earliest symptoms of your pet’s medical complaints, why not consider investing in an interactive pet camera, such as those offered by Petcube? You can monitor them in real-time, keeping a close eye on your cherished companions. It’s great peace of mind, especially when your pets are poorly!

What Causes Colds in Dogs?

Colds in dogs are caused by viruses, just as they are in humans. They are different viruses, though.

Some dog colds are caused by bacteria, known as bacterial infections. Bordetella bronchiseptica, for example, is a bacterium that causes an infectious type of bronchitis in canines. It is very closely associated with what you may know as kennel cough.

Read more: Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs: Everything a Dog Parent Needs to Know

Canine coronavirus is – as you might have guessed – a virus that can cause cold-like symptoms. (It was around long before the human version was.)

Other conditions that are linked with cold-like symptoms in dogs include:

  • Canine pneumovirus;
  • Canine adenovirus type 2;
  • Canine herpesvirus;
  • Canine influenza virus.

How to Treat a Dog Cold: How the Vets Do It

Sometimes, a dog cold won’t need treating. If your dog has the sniffles but is still relatively well – eating, drinking, urinating, defecating, and playing (albeit slightly less) as they usually would, medication is not recommended. It is not necessary.

A vet may prescribe antibiotics if the cause of your dog’s cold is a bacterial infection. These will not treat a viral infection, however. A virus will generally pass on its own.

If the symptoms of your dog’s cold are quite bad - a lot of sneezing, coughing, wheezing, etc. - your vet may prescribe medication that is designed to ease them. This includes canine-safe decongestants, cough medications, pain relief, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your vet will pinpoint the exact underlying cause of your dog’s cold symptoms, if there is one, before then treating it. Each cause will require a different type of treatment.

What Can I Give My Dog for a Cold?

In all honesty, there is very little, if anything, in your medicine cabinet that you could safely give to your dog. You can use your human humidifier for your pet, though. This will help with any congestion and can help with wheezy breathing.

If you don’t have a humidifier, you’ll get the same effect by taking your dog into the bathroom, shutting the door, then running the hot tap. Just make sure your dog doesn’t jump into the water and get burned.

Make sure that your pooch always has plenty of fresh water. Flushing the cold out is a much-loved human approach, and it’s not a bad doggy approach, too. You may want to consider putting down an extra water bowl for your dog to encourage drinking.

Lastly, make sure your dog has somewhere warm, dry, and quiet to curl up in. Think about how you feel when you’re unwell. You want warmth and comfort, right? Your dog will want the same thing.

Some extra love and hugs wouldn’t go amiss, too!

How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting a Cold

It is quite tough to prevent your dog from catching a cold, but you should avoid socializing with other dogs that have cold-like symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, etc.

Many conditions that cause cold-like symptoms in dogs are contagious and will quickly spread. If one pooch at the dog park has a cold, it won’t be long before ALL pooches at the dog park have a cold. They’re like toddlers, picking up germs from each other left, right, and center.

Emergency Fund

If you’re worried about a doggo health emergency but are more worried about the effect of costly vet bills on your bank balance, there’s a brand-new alternative that you should know about.

Petcube’s Emergency Fund is a more affordable alternative to traditional pet insurance. For less than the price of a cup of coffee per day, up to 6 pets in your home will be covered up to $3,000 worth of emergency vet care when they need it the most.

Now that’s what I call responsible pet parenting, wouldn’t you?


Can dogs get colds from people?

No, it is not believed that dogs can get colds from people. They can get their own version of colds, but the doggy version and the human version are not the same, nor are they caused by the same viruses or bacteria. If you have a cold, you can’t give it to your dog.

Can dogs get colds from being wet?

Colds are caused by either bacterial or viral infections. Your pooch will not get a cold just because they got wet.

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