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Can Dogs Get a Cold? Understanding Canine Respiratory Health

As the weather turns colder, many people start to come down with the sniffles. Naturally, dog owners may wonder if their four-legged friends can catch a cold too. So, can dogs get a cold? Let’s dive into this topic and understand more about canine respiratory health.

What Does a Cold Mean for Dogs?

When humans talk about catching a cold, they usually refer to a mild respiratory infection characterised by a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. For dogs, the term “cold” isn’t typically used by veterinarians. Instead, symptoms like coughing, sneezing, or a runny nose in dogs are usually referred to as an upper respiratory infection. These can be caused by various viruses and bacteria, not necessarily the same ones that affect humans.

Can Dogs Get Upper Respiratory Infections?

Yes, dogs can get upper respiratory infections, which are similar to the common cold in humans. These infections can be caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria, including the canine influensa virus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and canine parainfluenza virus.

Symptoms of Upper Respiratory Infections in Dogs

If your dog has an upper respiratory infection, you might notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite

Transmission and Prevention

Dogs can catch respiratory infections from other dogs, especially in places where many dogs congregate, like kennels, dog parks, or grooming. Some viruses can even be spread through shared toys or water bowls.

To reduce the risk of your dog catching an upper respiratory infection, make sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations. Also, practice good hygiene by regularly cleaning their toys and water bowls and avoiding close contact with dogs that show signs of respiratory illness.

Treatment and When to See a Vet

Just like the common cold in humans, mild upper respiratory infections in dogs often resolve on their own with rest and proper hydration. However, if your dog is showing severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent cough, or if they are very lethargic and refusing to eat, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. The vet may prescribe antibiotics if the infection is bacterial, or other medications to alleviate the symptoms.

Can Dogs Catch Colds from Humans?

Generally, the viruses that cause colds in humans are not contagious to dogs, and vice versa. However, it’s always a good idea to practice good hygiene and avoid close contact with your pet if you are sick, to minimise any risk of transmission.


In conclusion, while dogs don’t catch “colds” in the same way humans do, they can get upper respiratory infections which have similar symptoms. It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s health, especially during the colder months, and consult a veterinarian if they show signs of respiratory illness. Keeping your dog’s living area clean and ensuring they have received the appropriate vaccinations can help in preventing infections.


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