Achoo! It’s that time of year when the sniffles and sneezes abound and the boxes of Kleenex and Lysol fly off the shelves. The Center for Disease Control estimates that adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more. However, it’s not just about humans – your dog could have a cold too.
Although dogs don’t usually spread viruses to humans, their symptoms are very similar – watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, and runny noses. If they are eating and drinking normally and still being active, all they need is rest and plenty of water so their immune system can fight off the infection. If they are extremely congested, consider using a humidifier, or even place them in the bathroom while you are taking a hot shower so they can soak up the steam. DO NOT give your dog over-the-counter cold medicines without consulting with your veterinarian! Many can be very dangerous when given to dogs.
Some other suggestions may include:
- Applying warm water compresses several times a day to keep the nose and eyes clean
- Using plain saline nose drops to clear snotty noses
- Using a walking harness to avoid irritating the neck
- Trying canned food or dry kibble softened with warm water to make it easier to swallow if your dog has a sore throat
If your dog is NOT eating or drinking, has difficulty breathing, and has been somewhat lethargic for a week or two, you veterinarian will probably check him out for: pneumonia, nasal foreign bodies, allergies, tumors, nasal mites, fungal infections, etc. Your vet will listen to your dog’s heart and lungs and potentially run a series of blood tests. Since most colds are a virus, your veterinarian will only prescribe antibiotics if the infection is of a bacterial nature. He may prescribe decongestants or anti-inflammatories as well.
Although your dog isn’t contagious to you, he might be contagious to other dogs, so keep him separated from your other pets!
Although you can’t catch a cold from being out in the cold, there are some breeds that have trouble tolerating cold conditions. These are Greyhounds, whippets, chihuahuas and many small dog breeds may need an insulating coat when out and about in the cold.
Although there is no vaccine for the common cold, there are dog vaccines for kennel cough, distemper and canine influenza that can help keep your dog healthy.