Can My Dog 'Catch' a Cold?
Winter isn’t the only time of year we have to worry about "catching" a cold, but it is the primary time for it. We’re spending more time in closed quarters, with windows and doors shut tight and no way to escape the germs. It is only a matter of time before someone in the house becomes sick. It could be you, but did you know that it could also be your dog that comes down with this common respiratory infection?
While there are differences in the types of viruses that infect humans versus dogs, the symptoms are basically the same: sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes. What can you do to protect your dog from catching cold, or if your dog does come down with a case of the cold, what can you do to treat it?
Different Germs, Different Viruses
As mentioned above, the type of cold a dog suffers from is different from the type a human suffers from. The illness is not communicable between species — at least, one has not yet been discovered — so there is no need to worry about catching your dog’s cold, or vice versa.
You will need to differentiate a common cold from a more serious health issue. For example, a common cause of dry cough is a condition known as "kennel cough." This contagious type of cough, as its name suggests, is typically contracted through a kennel or boarding facility. This cough is most easily recognized by its characteristic honking sound. If your dog has recently been boarded or has had contact with a dog that has been boarded recently, this will need to be considered, and will need to be treated by a veterinarian.
There are other highly contagious, cold-like illnesses to be familiar with, as well. The influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, and tuberculosis are all illnesses that can be transmitted by infected dogs.
Another potentially life-endangering viral illness is canine distemper. A dog exhibiting symptoms of distemper will usually have coughing, vomiting, high fever, and a thick discharge from the eyes and nose.
When a Cold is Not a Germ or a Virus
There are several types of parasites that can get into the lungs, heart and trachea, and which can also cause symptoms that mimic a cold infection. Coughing and other breathing problems are the main symptoms. Fungal infections are also commonly found in dogs, and can sometimes lead to life threatening conditions, when the fungal parasite sets up house in the lungs, causing ongoing, repetitive coughing, scarring of the lung tissue, and eventually, in some cases, pneumonia.
More difficult to distinguish in many instances, but just as common in animals as in humans, are allergies to environmental triggers and/or food products. An undiagnosed asthma or allergies that trigger respiratory symptoms can also bring on coughing and sneezing fits in dogs.