Can Dogs Catch Colds?

We aren’t strangers to the common cold as the seasons change throughout the year – and neither are our dogs!


However, the cold-like symptoms that dogs can experience are not from the “cold virus” that humans may experience. They are rather a collection of infections that create symptoms similar to a human common cold.

Fortunately, these infections cannot be spread from human to dog and vice versa so next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather, your dog won’t be so too!

This situation is similar to different variants of flu. Whilst dogs cannot catch the flu as a human would, they are susceptible to the canine flu. This can be spread from dog to dog.


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What are the symptoms of colds in dogs?

You may recognise your common cold symptoms as the same in your dog.

These can include:

- Sneezing
- Coughing
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Lethargy
- Loss of appetite or thirst
- Fever


Causes of cold symptoms in dogs can relate to bacterial, parasitic infections (heartworms or roundworms), fungal infections or even allergies in dogs.

Mild symptoms include those of the top half of the above list, (sneezing, coughing, runny nose and watery eyes). These paired with normal or close to normal energy levels, regular eating and drinking are usually of no concern. This type of cold-like infection will usually get better on its own.

More serious symptoms may include those of the bottom half of the above list as well, (lethargy, loss of appetite or thirst and a fever). If your dog is experiencing these symptoms and is uncomfortable, having difficulty breathing, is vomiting or has diarrhoea then it’s time for a visit to the vet.

A vet will perform a full examination of your dog and run tests if they feel appropriate. How they deal with the cold-like symptoms will be decided after a diagnosis. This may include antibiotics or simply water and orders to rest up!

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Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, (or infectious tracheobronchitis) has similar symptoms to those that suggest a cold-like infection. It is a highly infectious respiratory disease in dogs. Its name comes from its common place of origin and transmission – the kennels.

This infection is transmissible between dogs. Kennel cough is treatable and most dogs recover but can be very serious in those with compromised immune systems.

It is usually recognised by its distinct symptom of a dry, honking cough but is almost always accompanied by other symptoms listed above. It’s important to consult your vet if any of the cold-like symptoms occur in your dog to be on the safe side.

Can you prevent dogs from getting a cold?

Whilst there isn’t a vaccine for a common cold, there are for the more serious infections that create the same symptoms. Vaccines for kennel cough, distemper and canine flu viruses can reduce the risk of contracting these diseases.

A few ideas to help prevent your dog from catching a cold include:

Keep vaccines up to date. By keeping these topped up, the more serious infections are at less risk of effecting your dog.

Clean their belongings. This includes toys, bedding, bowls, etc. Whilst bacteria can help to strengthen the immune system, we don’t want to overdo it!

Ensure that your dog gets enough rest. Dogs need to recover for optimal health too! A run down and tired dog can have a lowered immune system, causing them to be more prone to infections.

Ensure their nutrition is up to scratch. Vitamins and minerals as well as a healthy gut are important for the body to work as efficiently as possible. Include immune system boosters such as a Probiotic to help your dog’s body to naturally fight off infections.


Listen for outbreaks in your area. If you know your local park that you take a walk in daily has had an outbreak, avoid it for a while.


If you suspect that your dog has a cold-like infection, always consult with your vet for the best way to move forward. It may be a simple solution such as bed rest or it could be more serious. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in our eyes!