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How Do Dogs Catch the Common Cold?

Dogs can catch respiratory infections through direct contact with an infected dog, sharing toys or bowls, or visiting places where infected dogs have been. Common environments where dogs can become infected include:

  • Doggy daycares

  • Boarding facilities

  • Training classes

  • Grooming salons

  • Canine sporting events

  • Dog parks

  • Veterinary offices

Preventing the spread of these infections involves keeping sick pets at home and ensuring new pets are quarantined for two weeks before introducing them to other dogs. Keeping vaccinations up to date is also critical.

Can Dogs Get Human Illnesses?

While it's rare, dogs can sometimes contract illnesses from humans. For example, there have been rare instances of dogs testing positive for COVID-19, though symptoms are usually mild or non-existent. However, most viruses and bacteria that cause colds in humans do not affect dogs, and vice versa.

Cold Symptoms in Dogs

Symptoms of upper respiratory infections in dogs can range from mild to severe and include:

  • Runny nose

  • Rough or honking cough

  • Frothy mucus from the mouth

  • Congestion

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Watery eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Loss of appetite

  • Shallow or wet breathing

  • Lethargy

  • Fever

Certain breeds, particularly brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs, are more vulnerable to severe respiratory infections due to their narrow airways.

How Common Colds in Dogs Are Diagnosed

Diagnosing the exact cause of respiratory symptoms in dogs can be challenging. A veterinarian may need to perform tests to identify the pathogen and rule out other conditions like allergies, heart disease, or cancer.

Treatment of the Common Cold in Dogs

Many respiratory infections in dogs are self-limiting and resolve without treatment. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, veterinary care is necessary. Severe cases may require hospitalization, IV fluids, oxygen therapy, and antibiotics if a bacterial infection is present.

Prevention of the Common Cold in Dogs

Vaccinations are crucial for preventing respiratory infections in dogs. Keeping your dog’s vaccinations current is essential, especially if they frequently interact with other dogs. It’s also important to isolate sick dogs and avoid sharing items with unfamiliar dogs.

When To Call Your Vet

If your dog shows signs of a respiratory infection, such as sneezing, coughing, or unusual discharge from the eyes or nose, keep them isolated and contact your veterinarian. Immediate veterinary care is necessary if your dog becomes lethargic, loses appetite, or has difficulty breathing.

For more detailed information and guidance, visit

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