Can Dogs Get Colds? Everything You Need to Know

Dogs, much like humans, are susceptible to colds, and the signs of a dog cold closely resemble those experienced by people. But, can you manage a dog’s cold at home, or should you seek veterinary advice? We’ll provide the answers in our blog, but if you have more questions or need an appointment, Riverstone Animal Hospital is just a phone call away–just reach out to us at (770) 479-7141!

can dogs get colds


What are the Symptoms of a Dog Cold?

When your dog catches a cold, several symptoms may become evident. Familiarizing yourself with these signs can help you provide the best care and determine when it’s time to consult with your vet.

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing (ranging from mild and intermittent to frequent)
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild fever
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

Why Do Dogs Get Colds?

Dog colds, much like human colds, result from various viruses and other factors. Unlike human colds, which often stem from a specific virus, dog colds can have multiple triggers. Understanding these causes is essential for prevention and early detection.

Common causes of dog colds include:

Viral Infections

Several viruses, including the canine adenovirus, can lead to colds in dogs.

Exposure to Sick Dogs

Dogs are more susceptible to colds after mingling with sick canines, especially in communal settings such as dog parks or kennels.


Elevated stress levels can weaken your dog’s immune system, making them more prone to catching a cold.

Poor Nutrition

A diet lacking essential nutrients can compromise your dog’s immune system.

Cold Weather

While cold weather itself doesn’t directly cause colds, it can contribute to conditions that increase susceptibility to illness.

Weakened Immunity

Puppies, older dogs, and those with pre-existing health issues may have weaker immune systems, making them more vulnerable to colds.

By staying vigilant for these symptoms and understanding potential causes, you can play a pivotal role in safeguarding your pet’s health.

What’s the Difference Between a Cold and Kennel Cough?

It’s vital to differentiate between a common cold and kennel cough, which is more serious, especially in puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems. Kennel cough is characterized by a persistent, distinctive “honking” cough, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, and low fever. Kennel cough can escalate to pneumonia if left untreated, necessitating more timely veterinary attention. Dog colds, on the other hand, can often be managed effectively at home.

Caring for Your Dog When They Have a Cold

Should your dog come down with a cold, you can take specific steps to ensure their comfort and promote a speedy recovery. Keep them warm and provide a quiet resting place. Make sure they have access to fresh water and encourage them to eat. Humidifiers or a steamy bathroom can help ease their breathing difficulties.

If your dog’s cold symptoms worsen, persist beyond a few days, or they start to have difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, or lethargy, it’s time to call Riverstone Animal Hospital at (770) 479-7141. Our team can offer guidance and, if necessary, schedule an appointment for your dog.

Veterinary Treatments for Your Dog’s Cold

Typically, dog colds can last from a few days to a week. If your dog’s symptoms do not improve within this timeframe or even worsen, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. At Riverstone Animal Hospital, our veterinarians can provide treatments such as antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections, cough suppressants, and fluids to support your dog’s recovery. Remember, it’s essential not to use human medications or home remedies without consulting a vet first.

Can You Prevent Your Dog from Catching a Cold?

Although you can’t fully eliminate the risk of colds, you can take measures to minimize your dog’s susceptibility:

  • Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date
  • Keep your dog away from other dogs displaying signs of illness
  • Maintain a balanced diet to strengthen your dog’s immune system
  • Make sure your dog gets routine exercise
  • Create a stable routine and a comfortable environment to minimize stress
  • Have your dog groomed regularly and keep their environment clean
  • Monitor weather conditions and take precautions on cold days

Can Dogs Transmit Colds to Humans, and Vice Versa?

Generally, the viruses causing colds in dogs differ from those in humans, making cross-species transmission highly unlikely. Nevertheless, maintaining good hygiene practices is always a wise choice.

For any concerns about your dog’s health or to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact Riverstone Animal Hospital at (770) 479-7141.