dog sick , ill or sleepingIt’s that time of year again. If you have managed to dodge getting a cold so far, you are among the lucky ones. It seems like the intermingling that goes on around the holiday season, coupled with the colder weather, leads to more sniffles and coughs than we would like. You may be wondering, though, can your pet catch these upper respiratory ailments?

The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center have all the answers you will ever need about colds in pets.

Sick as a Dog

When you think of the collection of symptoms people normally associate with a cold, they often include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fever

Without a doubt, our animal friends suffer from bugs that can cause many of the above symptoms. In people, however, the common cold is most often caused by a rhinovirus that is exclusive to humans.

So while pets can suffer from a “cold”, it is not the traditional cold we see in humans, and they are not transmissible between pets and people.

Colds in Pets

So what causes colds in pets? There are several different annoying bugs out there that can cause the symptoms we think of when it comes to the common cold.

Dogs and cats may be affected by:

While people typically ride out a cold, most of the times these symptoms in animals require medical attention, particularly if they persist for longer than a day or two. Likewise, if your pet is not eating well or acting lethargic, it is probably safest to have him or her examined.

If your pet has cold symptoms, do not use medications intended for people. Not only are these ineffective in treating the problem at hand, many human cold medications are also dangerous for pets.

You can use a humidifier or a steamy bathroom to open up the nasal passages. Likewise, encouraging your pet to stay hydrated is important. In addition to plain water, you might offer your pet a few ice cubes or some water flavored lightly with low sodium chicken broth.

Keeping your pet up-to-date on vaccinations is also very important. Both the dog and cat distemper combination vaccines contain immunity to multiple upper respiratory bugs. At-risk dogs may also need to be vaccinated against Bordetella (kennel cough) and canine influenza.

While your pet isn’t going to catch a cold from you, animals certainly can suffer from many of the same symptoms we do when battling the common cold. Please give us a call if your pet is showing signs of illness. Colds in pets are no fun, but we are here to help if you need us.