Case of the Dog Sniffles or Full-Blown Cold?
We all get the sniffles from time to time—and yes, even our dogs can catch a cold! The problem is that our dogs can't tell us what's bothering them, and we don't always know if it's a cold or something worse. Here's what you need to know about dog colds and what you can do to help:
Dog Cold Symptoms
The common cold actually encompasses a number of different viruses that all have similar symptoms, and the same is true for the colds that your dog catches. The symptoms of a dog's cold are also similar to your own:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
If your dog has any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian. They may indicate something more serious, such as kennel cough, influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, bronchitis, or canine distemper.
What to Do if Your Dog Has a Cold
If you think that your dog might have a cold, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. The vet will perform a physical exam and may suggest diagnostic testing to find the cause of your dog's symptoms and narrow down the best possible treatment.
While minor colds usually resolve by themselves, a more serious infection may require antibiotics, cough suppressants, and fluids. Remember that sick dogs may be contagious to other dogs. Keep your dog from interacting with other dogs to prevent the disease from spreading.
Can Dogs Catch a Cold From Humans?
When it comes to cold viruses, the answer is almost always no. Cold viruses that affect humans are largely species-specific, so they rarely affect dogs or other pets. However, some reports have shown that humans and dogs can share infection with certain types of influenza viruses. Always wash your hands frequently when you or your dog is sick.
Can I Get Sick From My Dog?
Many diseases can spread from animals to humans, but it's not likely to happen with your dog. Most diseases can be prevented with frequent handwashing and regular vet visits. Some of the more common diseases that humans can get from their pets include:
Salmonella: Salmonella poisoning most often occurs as a result of contaminated food. However, dogs and other pets can spread it through their feces. You may experience signs of salmonella poisoning like stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever.
Toxoplasmosis: You can get toxoplasmosis from eating undercooked meat or from contact with animal feces outdoors. You can also get it from contact with contaminated cat feces, which is why it's important to change your cat's litter daily. Toxoplasmosis may cause flu-like symptoms and even a miscarriage or serious birth defect if a woman is pregnant.
Rabies: Spread through the saliva of infected animals, rabies is generally fatal. Although rabies can be spread from pets such as a dog or cat, you are more likely to get it from a wild animal. You may experience early signs like fever or headache, which can quickly advance to confusion, sleepiness, or agitation.