Can Your Dog Catch A Cold Or Get The Flu?

With everything going around in the news about the coronavirus, people are completely on edge about everything related to a cold and the flu. So, as dog owners, you may be wondering, “can my dog get a cold?” or, “can my dog get the flu?”

The simple answer is yes. Dogs can get a cold and the flu – but the good news is they can’t pick one up from you. So, if you’re at home sneezing and coughing from a cold or sweating buckets from the flu, and your dog is trying to cuddle up with you, there is no need to feel guilty.

As PetMD says, “a human cold can only affect humans. It cannot be transmitted to animals.”

Since you can’t give them your germs, that means you’re free to accept all the doggie kisses and cuddles – because, let’s be honest, they really do make you feel better. I’ll argue with any doctor who suggests doggie love isn’t a real cure, besides antibiotics.

Photo: ixabay/jaminriverside

While we can’t pass our germs onto our precious pups, that doesn’t mean that dogs are exempt from getting a cold or the flu themselves. In fact, according to PetMD, “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.”

So, let’s take a look below at all the things that our dogs can contract:

Kennel Cough

Photo: Kadena Air Base

This is a highly contagious respiratory virus. As the name suggests, it is normally contracted by dogs who spend a large amount of time being boarded with a large number of other dogs. It is quite common in places such as shelters, dog shows, or even dog obedience training classes. This is very contagious because a dog doesn’t have to come in direct contact with an infected dog. The virus is able to live on surfaces that may have been in contact with an infected dog such as toys or water/food bowls. As Vetstreet pointed out, “A blaring, hacking cough like a goose honk is the most common sign [of kennel cough]. Affected dogs will often retch and gag as if trying to dislodge something from their throats.” Dogs who do become sick with kennel cough normally start to present signs of infection within a period of 4-10 days. Treatment for kennel cough varies and can be as simple as waiting and watching, to giving the dog a round of antibiotics.

Canine Influenza

Photo: flickr/Jonathan Willier

Much like us, our dogs can also get their version of the flu called canine influenza, a respiratory infection similar to the human condition. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “The first strain reported in the United States, beginning in 2004, was an H3N8 influenza A virus … In 2015, an outbreak that started in Chicago was caused by a separate canine influenza virus, H3N2.” The symptoms of canine influenza are similar to those of the human flu. You may notice your dog experiencing a lingerie cough that lasts 10-30 days, and in addition, they may experience sneezing and a fever. There may also be discharge coming from your dog’s nose or eyes. To treat canine influenza, your vet will most likely prescribe your pet antibiotics or other medication. However, you should take precautions if your dog has canine influenza not to have it spread to any other animals in your household. As AVMA warns, “Dogs with canine influenza should be isolated to prevent transmission of the virus to other dogs or, in the case of H3N2, cats.”

Obviously, if you have an ill dog, it’s very much like looking after a sick kid. You want to do your best to care for them, and that normally involves getting in contact with your local vet. It is always important to take your dog to the vet in order to get checked out so that a proper diagnosis can be made. In addition, your vet can then prescribe the best course of action to get your pup feeling better in no time. And just like you can’t give your cold or flu to your dog, the same goes for your pet – they can’t give you their sickness either. That means that you can cuddle your sick pup, something that they will undoubtedly love even more when they’re feeling rotten. The important thing is to keep their water dish full in order to avoid them getting dehydrated.

If your dog normally spends time in doggie daycare or with other dogs, then you will need to make proper arrangements to board them with your vet until they are well enough to be around other animals – you don’t want to be known as the owner of “patient zero.”

Of course, with a ton of TLC, a trip to the vet, and plenty of rest, your dog will be back to normal in no time!

Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.

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