Cold Symptoms in Dogs

By Lisa McQuerrey

The common cold can plague your dog with symptoms similar to what you might experience -- sneezing, runny nose, congestion and lethargy. This common respiratory ailment is most prevalent and transmittable in colder months when people and animals spend more time together in close quarters. Most colds run their course over a few days, though complications or worsening symptoms should be evaluated by a vet.

Know Your Symptoms

Different viruses are responsible for colds in people and colds in animals, so the condition can’t be transferred between pets and owners. Both people and dogs suffer the same primary upper respiratory symptoms with a cold, however. In addition to stuffy nose, congestion and coughing there may be watery eyes or a drippy nose. Your pup may be tired and listless and have a decreased appetite. Make him more comfortable by feeding him low-sodium chicken soup, minus garlic and onions, and letting him sit in a closed bathroom with a hot shower running. The steam will help loosen congestion. If symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop, see your vet, as the cold could be something more serious.

Serious Diseases that Mimic Colds

Many serious health conditions initially have coldlike symptoms. Watch your pup to evaluate whether you’re dealing with a simple case of the sniffles or something more serious. A cough that worsens and turns into a hacking or honking sound could be kennel cough, pneumonia or a congestive heart problem. Eye or nose discharge that turns from clear to green or yellow can indicate an upper respiratory tract infection that should be treated with antibiotics. A dog who vomits and has high fever, in conjunction with other serious cold symptoms, could have distemper. Other coldlike diseases that can be passed from dog-to-dog include influenza, parainfluenza, adenovirus and tuberculosis.

Other Coldlike Disorders

Allergies can mimic cold symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, and some fungal and parasitic infections can present like cold symptoms as well. Coughing, breathing and eye and nose discharge are main characteristics of parasitic or fungal infections in the lungs, heart and trachea. These ailments require veterinary intervention, as dewormers and anti-fungal medications are often necessary to treat the underlying problem.

Cold Prevention

Keep your pup in warm, dry conditions when it’s cold and separate sick animals from healthy ones to prevent the spread of germs. Keep your dog hydrated and healthy to help him ward off cold viruses he comes in contact with. Never give your dog cold meds intended for humans, as they can be toxic. If you have concerns your dog is coming down with something and aren’t sure if it’s a cold or something else, see your vet for a consultation.