Dog Cold Symptoms

When our furry friends become sick, it can be a cause for concern and prompt us to seek immediate attention. Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to catching colds. While the common cold in dogs is usually not as severe as in humans, it is still important to be aware of the symptoms and take appropriate measures to help them recover. This article aims to provide you with an understanding of dog cold symptoms, their causes, prevention, and treatment.

Understanding Dog Colds

Dog colds, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis or kennel cough, are respiratory infections that affect dogs. They are typically caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria, such as the canine adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. These pathogens can spread through the air or through direct contact with an infected dog.

Recognizing Dog Cold Symptoms

Identifying the symptoms of a dog cold is crucial in providing appropriate care. The signs may vary from mild to severe and can include:

1. Common Symptoms

·         Persistent coughing

·         Sneezing

·         Runny or congested nose

·         Watery eyes

·         Mild lethargy

·         Mild loss of appetite

These symptoms are similar to what humans experience when they have a cold. In most cases, the dog's condition will improve within a week or two with proper care and rest.

2. Severe Symptoms

While most dog colds are mild, there are instances where the symptoms can become more severe. In such cases, it is crucial to seek veterinary care. Some of the severe symptoms include:

·         High fever

·         Harsh coughing fits

·         Difficulty breathing

·         Pus-like discharge from the nose or eyes

·         Loss of appetite and weight loss

·         Lethargy and depression

If you notice any of these severe symptoms, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Common Dog Cold Symptoms

Dogs may exhibit various symptoms when they have a cold. While the signs may vary from one dog to another, here are some of the most common cold symptoms seen in dogs:

1. Runny Nose: One of the primary signs of a dog having a cold is a runny nose. You may notice clear or slightly discolored nasal discharge. If the discharge becomes thick, yellow, or green, it could indicate a more serious infection and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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2. Sneezing: Frequent bouts of sneezing are another typical symptom of a dog with a cold. If your dog is sneezing frequently and there is no improvement over time, it is advisable to seek veterinary advice to rule out any underlying issues.

3. Coughing: Just like humans, dogs can also develop a cough when they have a cold. The cough may be dry or produce phlegm. Persistent or severe coughing should be addressed promptly as it could indicate a more serious condition.

4. Watery Eyes: Watery or teary eyes are commonly observed in dogs with colds. Excessive tearing or the presence of discharge around the eyes may indicate an infection or irritation that requires attention.

5. Lethargy: When dogs are not feeling well, they tend to exhibit lethargy. If your dog seems unusually tired, lacks energy, or shows a decreased interest in activities, it could be a sign of a cold.

6. Loss of Appetite: Another symptom that is frequently seen in dogs with colds is a loss of appetite. If your dog refuses to eat or shows a significant decrease in food consumption, it is essential to monitor their intake and seek veterinary advice if the condition persists.

Causes of Dog Colds

Dog colds, just like human colds, can be caused by various factors. Understanding the causes of dog colds is essential to take appropriate preventive measures and provide prompt treatment. This section will discuss the common causes of dog colds.

1. Viral Infections: Viral infections are a significant cause of dog colds. Several viruses can infect dogs and lead to cold-like symptoms. The canine parainfluenza virus and canine adenovirus are two common viruses that can cause colds in dogs. These viruses are highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects.

2. Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections can also contribute to dog colds. The most well-known bacterial infection associated with cold-like symptoms in dogs is Bordetella bronchiseptica, commonly known as kennel cough. Kennel cough is highly contagious and spreads rapidly in environments where dogs are in close proximity, such as kennels, shelters, or dog parks.

3. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors can play a role in the development of dog colds. Exposure to cold weather, drafts, or sudden temperature changes can weaken a dog's immune system and make them more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. Know how cold is too cold to walk your dog? Dogs that are kept outdoors without adequate shelter are particularly vulnerable to cold-related illnesses.

4. Weakened Immune System: A weakened immune system can increase the risk of dogs developing colds. Factors such as stress, poor nutrition, underlying health conditions, or recent illnesses can compromise a dog's immune system, making them more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.

5. Direct Contact: Direct contact with infected dogs is a common way for colds to spread among canines. Dogs that socialize with other dogs, especially in crowded places like dog parks or boarding facilities, have a higher risk of contracting colds. Sharing their puzzle toys, food/water bowls, or grooming tools can also facilitate the transmission of viruses and bacteria.

Prevention is Key

Prevention is key when it comes to dog colds. Here are some measures you can take to reduce the risk of your dog catching a cold:

1.      Vaccinations: Ensure your dog is up to date on vaccinations, including those specifically targeting viruses that cause cold-like symptoms.

2.     Good Hygiene: Regularly clean your dog's bedding, toys, and food/water bowls to minimize the chances of exposure to viruses and bacteria. Avoid contact with sick dogs, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling other dogs.

3.     Avoid Crowded Places: Limit your dog's exposure to crowded areas, especially if there is an outbreak of respiratory infections in the canine community.

4.     Adequate Shelter: Provide a warm and dry shelter for your dog, especially during colder months. Protect them from drafts and extreme temperature changes.

5.      Healthy Diet and Exercise: Maintain your dog's overall health by providing a nutritious diet and regular exercise. A healthy immune system is better equipped to fight off infections.

Dog Cold Symptoms

Dog Cold Symptoms Treatment

When your dog is experiencing cold symptoms, it's essential to provide them with proper care and treatment to help them recover. While dog colds are generally not as severe as in humans, it's still important to address the symptoms and support their immune system. This section will discuss various treatment options for dog cold symptoms.

1. Rest and Comfort: One of the most crucial aspects of treating dog cold symptoms is allowing your dog to rest and providing them with a comfortable environment. Create a cozy spot for them to relax, away from drafts or extreme temperatures. Ensure they have a soft bed or blanket to lie on and access to fresh water.

2. Hydration: Keeping your dog well-hydrated is essential during a cold. Ensure that they have access to clean, fresh water at all times. If your dog is reluctant to drink, you can try adding warm water or low-sodium chicken broth to make it more enticing. Proper hydration helps thin mucus and soothes the respiratory system.

3. Humidifier: Using a humidifier in the room where your dog spends most of their time can help alleviate congestion and ease breathing. The added moisture in the air can help soothe their respiratory passages and reduce coughing and sneezing.

4. Steam Therapy: Creating a steamy environment can also be beneficial for dogs with cold symptoms. Bring your dog into the bathroom while you take a hot shower, allowing them to breathe in the warm, moist air. Be cautious not to bring them too close to the hot water or expose them to extreme temperatures.

5. Nasal Drops or Saline Solution: If your dog has a stuffy or congested nose, you can use saline nasal drops or a saline solution to help clear their nasal passages. Consult with your veterinarian for appropriate instructions and recommended products for your dog.

6. Warm Compress: A warm compress can provide relief for dogs experiencing discomfort from symptoms such as watery eyes or nasal congestion. Gently apply a warm (not hot) compress to the affected area for a few minutes at a time. Be careful not to apply excessive pressure or cause any discomfort.

7. Veterinary Consultation: If your dog's cold symptoms persist, worsen, or are accompanied by severe coughing, difficulty breathing, or loss of appetite, it is necessary to seek veterinary advice. Your veterinarian can assess your dog's condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options. They may prescribe medications such as cough suppressants or antibiotics if necessary.

8. Supportive Care: In addition to the above measures, providing supportive care can help your dog recover more quickly. This includes feeding them a balanced diet with high-quality nutrition, ensuring they get regular exercise (if their energy levels permit), and administering any prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian.

Taking care of your dog's cold symptoms involves providing them with a comfortable environment, promoting hydration, and using various treatments to alleviate congestion and discomfort. Remember to consult with your veterinarian for specific guidance tailored to your dog's condition. With proper care and treatment, your furry friend will be on the road to recovery in no time.

Dog Collar

Home Remedies for Dog Colds

For mild cases of dog colds, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms and aid in recovery. However, it's crucial to consult with your veterinarian before trying any home remedies. Some effective remedies include:

·         Providing plenty of rest and a comfortable, warm environment for your dog

·         Ensuring proper hydration by providing fresh water and warm broth

·         Administering veterinarian-approved over-the-counter cough suppressants or expectorants

·         Using a humidifier or steam therapy to help relieve congestion

·         Feeding a balanced diet with added nutrients to boost the immune system

Remember, these home remedies are not meant to replace professional veterinary care but can be used as supportive measures.


Caring for a dog with cold symptoms can be a worrisome experience, but with proper knowledge and timely intervention, you can help your furry friend recover quickly. Remember to consult with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and follow their advice for treatment and prevention. By understanding the symptoms, causes, and preventive measures related to dog colds, you can ensure the well-being and comfort of your canine companion.

With the information provided in this comprehensive guide, you are now equipped to identify, address, and prevent dog cold symptoms. By following the recommended steps and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can ensure that your beloved dog leads a healthy and happy life.


1.   Q: Can dogs catch colds from humans?

A: Dogs cannot catch colds from humans, as the viruses that cause colds in humans are different from those affecting dogs.

2.   Q: How long does it take for a dog to recover from a cold?

A: The duration of recovery from cold in dogs can vary depending on various factors, but most dogs usually recover within 1 to 2 weeks.

3.   Q: Can I give my dog over-the-counter cold medicine?

A: No, it is not recommended to give your dog over-the-counter cold medicine without consulting a veterinarian. Some medications can be toxic to dogs.

4.   Q: Should I isolate my dog if they have a cold?

A: It is advisable to keep your dog away from other dogs to prevent the spread of any potential infections.

5.   Q: When should I take my dog to the vet for a cold?

A: If your dog's symptoms worsen, persist for more than a week, or if they show signs of difficulty breathing, it is critical to consult a veterinarian for proper evaluation and treatment.