Question #1: Can dogs catch a cold? Yes, they can. You might see watery eyes, sniffles, sneezing or coughing. Just like humans, the symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on which cold virus he’s picked up.
Question #2: Can dogs catch a cold from humans? No, they can’t. The symptoms may look a lot like yours when you are sick, but the viruses are different and don’t cross between the species. If you are both sick at the same time, it’s just a coincidence.
When to Call the Vet
A dog’s cold symptoms are very close to those of a human with a cold – a runny or stuffed up nose, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing. He may also be more lethargic and not eat like his usual self. But you’ll want to make sure it’s only a cold and not some other illness that could be more severe.
Some important things you can check at home:
- Color of their Gums – Lift your dog’s upper lip on the side of his mouth and look at the color under his lip and above the teeth. If it’s pink, that’s good. If it’s too dark, bluish or pale, that could indicate something more serious.
- Pulse – Find his pulse by placing your hand on his chest, just behind the elbow. Count his heartbeat for 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. A dog’s typical pulse is about 120 beats per minute.
- Temperature – If your dog’s ears feel hot, you should take his temperature. Lubricate a battery-operated temperature probe with petroleum jelly. Lift your dog’s tail and insert it just a little bit. Press the button and remove when you hear the signal. A dog’s normal temperature runs between 101 – 102.5° F.
If your dog shows any irregularity in these areas, it’s best to call your veterinarian. Your vet will help to determine if it’s just a cold, or if they have another illness which causes similar symptoms: kennel cough, the flu, allergies or parasites.
Also, if your dog is a puppy or a senior dog, it’s best to call the vet, especially if they have diarrhea or vomiting along with the cold symptoms. You’ll want to make sure he hasn’t developed an infection requiring antibiotics.
Ways to Treat a Dog’s Cold
There are a few things we can do at home to help alleviate the symptoms and make him feel more comfortable. Pretty much the same things our mothers did for us when we were sick:
- Inhale Steam – Run a hot bath or shower so the steam builds up in your bathroom. Or use a hot steam vaporizer near the place your dog sleeps. The steam will help to clear up his nasal passages so he can breathe better.
- Drink Fluids & Eat – Make sure he is drinking plenty of water so he doesn’t experience dehydration, which can be very serious. Your pooch may be turning up his nose at his normal food, so try some chicken soup, or any soup. It’s great for dogs with colds, just serve the soup at room temperature.
- Get Rest – Cut back on his walks until he’s feeling better. He may not feel like walking at all, and that’s okay. He’ll let you know when he’s ready. You’ll also want to restrict his play time if he’s a very active dog. If he has a playmate at home, try to keep the playmate from taunting your sick pooch. Maybe close him off in a room by himself so he can get some uninterrupted sleep.
When your dog gets a cold, it will likely have to run its course, but hopefully these ideas will help him feel better along the way.
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