Dogs' flu & colds

Can Dogs Get Human Colds?

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. March 19, 2018
Can Dogs Get Human Colds?

During peak cold season, sniffles quickly turn into sneezes and a mild tickle in the throat leads to a persistent cough. You want your family to be healthy and sound, but you may not consider your dog. If you now are wondering can dogs get human colds, this oneHOWTO article answers the question we just posed to you. If you are under the weather, but want your beloved pet to stay safe, then here is some good news. Although dogs are also prone to get colds, they cannot get them from you or other humans. The germs and viruses that affect humans are different from those that affect animals. So, while you are trying to recover from your cold and flu, you don’t need to keep your dog at a distance from you. Let's look a little more about how dogs do get colds to keep them protected.

You may also be interested in: What Are The Symptoms Of Colds In Dogs
  1. Can dogs catch a cold from humans?
  2. Differences between human and dog cold viruses
  3. Exceptions
  4. Kennel cough
  5. Other causes of cold symptoms in dogs
  6. How To Treat A Dog With Cold
  7. How to prevent colds in dogs

Can dogs catch a cold from humans?

The answer here is an affirmative ‘no’. Although both dogs and humans are susceptible to catch colds, the germs responsible for both are different. Consequently, the virus that causes human cold cannot survive in the body of a dog and vice versa. So, be assured that your dog will not get sick because it wants to be around you and nurse you. Also, if you are giving your dog a cuddle and they sneeze in your direction, there is little chance it will do you much harm (unless there are other pathogens in their sneeze).

In the minds of a dog, you cannot take care of yourself when you are sick. This is why they often feel the need to nurse you until you are fit and fine. Dogs can, however, catch cold from other canine friends. As a responsible dog owner, do not take your pet to a dog park or to the grooming center if it is ill. This will save other dogs from getting infected. If your dog is well, limit its exposure to other dogs that may seem unwell.

Differences between human and dog cold viruses

Most people mistake human cold and dog colds due to the general similarity of their symptoms. From coughing and sneezing to a runny nose and sore throat, most of the symptoms look identical in both species. But the germs causing them are species specific and are non-communicable between humans and dogs. The cold virus in humans is usually caused due to coronavirus or rhinovirus.

On the other hands, a cold in dogs is caused due to a combination of bacteria, including Mycoplasma, Streptococcus, Pasteurella, Pseudomonas and E.coli. There are numerous other viral diseases in dogs that show upper respiratory tract symptoms, including canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, canine reovirus, canine influenza virus and distemper virus.


Although veterinarians believe that humans cannot give their infection to their dogs, there are certain exceptions to note. While germs that cause cold and flu are specific to species, there are some specific viruses which may be transferred. Particular varieties of streptococcus that cause sore throat can be contagious among dogs and humans. But you may not even know that your dog has it, because it may not show any infection symptoms despite carrying the virus.

Although you have rare chances of infecting your dog, you may contract zoonoses from your dog through its feces and saliva. The pet carrying the disease may not display any symptoms or may seem to carry ticks, mites and fleas without specific symptoms. Commonly transmitted zoonotic parasites and diseases include rabies, intestinal parasites and ringworm. Pregnant women, infants and people with poor immunity have a higher risk of contracting these infections.

Kennel cough

Kennel cough, scientifically termed as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a serious respiratory disease suffered by dogs. The most common place from where it is transmitted are dog kennels, hence its name. Dogs usually congregate at kennels, due to which they frequently contract viruses at this place. Kennel cough can be treated and a dog can recover too, but dogs with weak immunity can have serious consequences. The most characteristic symptom of kennel cough is a dry cough with honking sound, just like a honking goose. Other symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, appetite loss, lethargy and low fever. Since most of these symptoms indicate common cold too, it is always advisable to consult a veterinarian.

Can Dogs Get Human Colds? - Kennel cough

Other causes of cold symptoms in dogs

In addition to kennel cough, similar symptoms can be displayed due to other diseases. Your dog may be coughing due to a parasitic or bacterial infection such as roundworm or heart worm. Allergies and fungal infections may also lead to cold-like symptoms in dogs. Since these can result in serious damage to the lung tissue and even pneumonia, it is important to consult a veterinarian if you see any of these symptoms in your pet.

Canine influenza, also known as dog flu, is a respiratory condition caused by H3N8 influenza A virus. Symptoms are similar to a cold, but your dog may display lingering symptoms which last from 10 to 30 days. The dog may experience sneezing, fever, discharge from nose and eyes, etc. Canine influenza can be effectively treated with antibiotics and other medicines. Also keep the pet isolated from other animals so that it does not transmit the infection.

How To Treat A Dog With Cold

If your dog has a cold, the first thing you need to do is to take it to a veterinarian. While you may not need to worry too much about a mild cold, it is significant to rule out other diseases that display similar symptoms. The veterinarian will physically examine your dog, listen to its heart, check is lungs and run a series of tests to ensure your dog is not suffering from an extremely serious condition. Fecal analysis, blood work and radiographs are used to identify the cause of your dog’s symptoms, so that the best treatment can be planned for your pet. While a mild cold typically resolves on its own, kennel cough and other such infections need proper treatment protocol, including rest, cough suppressants, antibiotics, fluids and perhaps a hospital stay.

In addition to the dog’s treatment, you need to take care of it in the following ways:

  • Dogs themselves know what they need to do when they are sick. They sleep more to ensure complete rest, become lethargic and eat less. Resting is perhaps the most important aspect of recuperation.
  • Make it comfortable by giving it warm blankets and bedding.
  • Give it access to lots of fresh water.
  • It may want to eat less, but encourage her to eat sufficient food for the required energy.
  • If its nose and eyes are running, gently dab them with a cotton ball or soft piece of cloth.
  • Give it immediate treatment if its eyes or nose discharge is green or yellow, as it indicates an infection.
  • Consult a veterinarian immediately if your dog is not eating or drinking, if it is vomiting, or it is having diarrhea.
  • If your dog has a pushed-in face, like that of a bulldog, Pekinese or pug, then it must be prone to develop respiratory issues due to the anatomy of their face. If you have such dog, then take it to the vet immediately if it develops a cold or flu.

How to prevent colds in dogs

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines for common cold in dogs, just like there are no vaccines for the cold in humans too. However, there are vaccines for some cold-like symptoms. You can keep your dog updated with vaccines for kennel cold, canine influenza and distemper to rule out possibilities of these serious diseases. Keep checking for outbreaks in your locality and avoid taking your dog out during these periods.

If you want to read similar articles to Can Dogs Get Human Colds?, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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