Can Dogs Catch Colds?
Can a dog catch a cold? Dogs don’t get colds the way that humans do. However, dogs do get respiratory infections. They usually fall under the category of kennel cough and are transmitted from dog to dog. One of the primary ways that dogs get kennel cough is by being lodged with other dogs in kennels. So, dogs in animal shelters and boarding kennels are at high risk of contracting these respiratory infections.
Kennel cough includes numerous strains. It can be compared to the dog version of the human cold. There is a vaccine for kennel cough that your dog can get from your vet but it will only protect him from the more common versions of kennel cough. It is still possible for him to contract some of the less common versions.
Boarding kennels generally require dogs to be vaccinated for kennel cough before staying at their facilities to cut down on the possibility of spreading any infection.
Symptoms of kennel cough include: a dry cough. A watery nasal discharge in some cases. In mild cases, dogs may continue to eat and be alert and active. In more severe cases, the symptoms may worsen and include lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, and pneumonia. The worst cases can lead to death. Most cases are mild unless the dog has a compromised immune system or is an unvaccinated puppy.
Mild forms of the infection may clear up on their own or require antibiotics. They may require a cough suppressant from your vet. In severe cases antibiotics are required and veterinary treatment is necessary to prevent the kennel cough from developing into pneumonia.
Dogs can also be susceptible to canine influenza. The H3N8 virus that causes canine influenza was first discovered in 2004. This virus was originally an equine virus that made the jump to dogs. The canine virus has been documented in over 30 states.
Canine influenza is spread through the air and on contaminated objects. It can also be spread by people who move between infected and uninfected dogs.
Since this is a new virus all dogs are considered to be at risk. No dogs have any natural immunity to the virus. Virtually all dogs who are exposed to the virus become infected. About 80 percent will develop obvious signs of the disease. The other 20 percent can still spread the virus and infect other dogs.
Canine influenza occurs year-round. Most dogs who come in contact with the virus do have a milder version of it and recover without any problems. However, some dogs may develop pneumonia.
There is now a canine influenza vaccine that may offer some protection to some dogs but it’s helpfulness is uncertain.