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Despite their generally hardy nature, even dogs catch the common cold sometimes. How can you tell your pup is sick? The following are signs that your dog is under the weather, and how to treat the symptoms.

What is a Cold in Dogs?
Colds are simply upper respiratory infections that affect the lungs, throat, or sinuses. Just like in humans, a virus can enter the airways and cause illness.

What are the Symptoms of a Cold?

Cold symptoms in dogs are similar to those in humans. Your dog may experience a runny nose with or without discharge. If a virus has settled in your dog’s nasal passage, this discharge may be green or yellow in color. Your dog may also be congested and have difficulty breathing through its nose due to excess mucus. Dogs with colds may develop a persistent cough, particularly after exercise. Eyes can become runny, and sneezing might also occur. Additionally, your dog may develop a mild fever while also appearing lethargic and with a decreased appetite.

How Should I Treat my Dog for a Cold?

If your dog’s symptoms are mild, a few days of rest and relaxation may be all that is necessary for your dog to recover. One tip for speeding up the healing process is to keep your dog well-rested. If possible, crate rest is recommended in order to avoid unnecessary exertion. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of fluids to hydrate. If your pet is stubborn about drinking water, consider adding chicken stock or a small amount of powdered drink mix to your dog’s water bowl. If the weather is cold, limit your pup’s time spent outdoors and provide an extra layer of warmth, such as a jacket.

While most colds do not require veterinary care, you should seek a vet’s advice if symptoms worsen or are severe. If your dog is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea in addition to cold symptoms, there may be a more serious underlying illness to blame. Additionally, if your dog is showing cold-like symptoms and is a puppy or a senior, always err on the side of caution and seek medical attention, as the immune systems of these pets are weaker than that of an adult dog.

How are Colds Spread?

Colds are most commonly spread through contact with other sick dogs. Pets that are boarded in a kennel, go to the dog park, or regularly attend doggy day care are most susceptible to illness. A dog with a weakened immune system will also be more likely to be affected by pathogens from sources such as garbage or feces.

How Can I Prevent my Dog from Catching a Cold?

The best way to prevent a respiratory infection is to keep your dog’s immune system healthy and strong. Always feed your dog high quality food, provide daily exercise, and make sure your pet has access to plenty of fresh water. In the winter, keep your pet warm and dry, and limit your dog’s contact with unhealthy animals. Additionally, always remain up to date on vaccinations and preventative wellness exams.