When a cold is coming on, you know the symptoms: coughing; difficulty breathing; watery eyes; sneezing; a feverish feeling; and a dry, scratchy throat. Come cold and flu season, you know to watch for these telltale signs when it comes to everyone in your family. But did you know that your beloved dog can also suffer from cold-like symptoms?
Doggie colds vs. human colds
Though dogs can present with cold-like (and flu-like) symptoms, the causes are not the same as for us humans. A doggie “cold” can be caused by many different conditions. These can include:
Simple respiratory irritation caused by dry winter air. You know how your lungs are affected by the air during the cold months, and some dogs may be affected the same way. To provide relief, try using a cool-mist humidifier in the living spaces where your dog romps and sleeps.
Viral infections, such as parainfluenza and adenovirus . These are contagious infections among dogs with cold-like symptoms, including doggie cough. Vaccinating your puppy at the proper time will help increase his resistance to these viruses. Read more about puppy vaccinations and scheduling.
Kennel Cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) also known as Canine Upper Respiratory Infection Complex (C-URI) and Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, is a very contagious respiratory disease of dogs. Learn more about this condition’s symptoms and treatment.
Canine distemper- Coughing and sneezing are also symptoms of this very serious, highly contagious, and potentially fatal viral infection. Dogs affected by this virus also develop other symptoms, such as a mucus discharge from the eyes and/or nose, loss of appetite, lack of energy, diarrhea, and vomiting. If your dog presents with any of those symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Treatment for non-serious doggie colds
Many times, a doggie cold will go away on its own, especially if your dog is an adult dog that is usually healthy and strong (as opposed to a puppy or a senior dog). In most cases, no medication is required, and your veterinarian can advise you as to whether your dog needs antibiotics or other medication.
Here are a few comforting things you can do if your dog has a simple, non-serious doggie cough or cold:
Make sure your dog has easy access to lots of fresh water.
Keep your dog out of dusty areas and away from tobacco smoke that may irritate his cough.
Decrease his exercise during this time and encourage him to rest.
Remember, never treat your puppy's cough with over-the-counter medicines meant for people. If your veterinarian prescribes medication, give it to your puppy exactly as directed.