Can Dogs Catch Human Colds? Everything You Need To Know

No, dogs cannot catch human colds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) states that several respiratory viruses can result in the common cold for humans. But luckily for canines, the viruses that cause colds in people are usually species-specific. It implies that such viruses are practically incapable of causing illness in dogs, perhaps in the rarest scenario. 

Although both humans and canines are prone to catch colds, the responsible germs may vary. As a result, the virus that causes human cold may not sustain in the body of canines. In the same way, the virus that causes colds in puppies would not survive in the human body. However, some points to remember as a responsible pet parent while your dog is sick are as follows:  

  • Dogs can catch a cold from their other furry friends.
  • Do not take your sick pet to a dog park or the grooming center.
  • If your dog is well, limit your dog’s exposure to other dogs that look unwell.

What Is a Cold?

The term “catching a cold” denotes a variety of viruses. These viruses are assembled as cold viruses because they cause sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. In humans, the causes of virus can be: 

  • Rhinovirus
  • Influenza virus
  • Parainfluenza virus

Canines also have similar causes for cold, with several other bacteria, fungi, and viruses affecting them. Therefore it is vital to treat colds more diligently in dogs than in humans.

Kennel Cough

The kennel cough, also called canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is named after its place of transmission – the kennels. It is here where the dogs transmit and catch the viruses. It is often contracted when your canine spends time with other hounds, such as in a training class or a dog show. Kennel cough is curable, and canines can recover; however, puppies may experience serious consequences. 

The most typical characteristic of kennel cough is a dry, bellow cough that canines develop. Further symptoms of kennel cough include:

  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Gagging to dislodge from their throat
  • Lethargy
  • Low fever
  • Retching
  • Loss of appetite

As these symptoms are found in dogs with common colds, it is vital to consult your vet. 

Dog Cold Symptoms

The symptoms are similar to influenza, bronchitis, parainfluenza, canine distemper, or kennel cough. Some typical dog cold symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Congested or runny nose
  • Bodyache
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes

If your puppy is experiencing these symptoms, it is best to consult your vet. Further, if your canine is experiencing fever, a change in appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, or any other transformation in your pet’s usual behavior, then your dog would require proper treatment.

Other Causes of Cold Symptoms In Dogs

While the pet owners would think that the dog’s cold symptoms are due to the common cold virus in dogs, it can also be due to other underlying medical issues. Some signs similar to kennel cough can be due to a bacterial or parasitic infection. For instance, heartworm or roundworm. Fungal infections or allergies can also lead to cold-like symptoms in canines. Viruses can result in severe damage to the lung tissue and might cause pneumonia. It is essential to consult a vet if you see the symptoms discussed above in your dogs. 

Dog flu, also known as canine influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by the H3N8 virus. Symptoms are similar to cold, but your pet may exhibit symptoms that last from 10 to 30 days. Your canines may experience:

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes and nose

You can treat dog flu successfully with antibiotics and other medicines. Your dog should be isolated from other pets so as not to transmit the viral infection. Another condition seen with similar symptoms is sinusitis. It is an inflammation of the sinus cavities in the head. There can be several causes like allergies caused by the environment, changes in your dog’s diet, or dental issues. However, it is distinguished from cold or flu by the presence of excessive mucus discharge. Allergies to dairy products can also be a cause of sinusitis.

Can Dogs Catch Flu From Humans?

While both human flu and common cold share the same symptoms, the flu virus spreads from one person to the other. Unlike the common cold that recovers quickly, the flu lasts longer and can grow into more severe issues such as pneumonia. In addition, this ailment affects the respiratory system. Some reports showed that both canines and humans were affected by some of the same types of influenza virus. 

How To Treat A Dog With Cold?

When you find your puppy sick, the foremost thing you need to do is consult your pet’s veterinarian about the protocols to follow. Your pets should always be examined by their vets to determine the causes and treatments for the malaise. One of the many things that your dog’s vet will suggest is to get plenty of rest. Rest is essential in your dog’s recovery. However, your dog will be lethargic until he gets normal. He will not pass the infection to humans, so the pet parents can treat him with complete affection and love till their furry friends are back to normal. The next possible thing that the pet owner should do is keep his water bowl full and ensure that the pet stays hydrated.

Further, the pet owners can wipe the dog’s eyes and nose with some warm damp cotton swab and make him feel comfortable. Pet owners can use a humidifier to ease their pooch’s congestion. Finally, with some rest, healthy meals and lots of water, and probably some medicines and your puppy will be back to his routine playful self. Pet parents must bear this as an essential part of treating at home. They should not give your pet over-the-counter cold remedies before taking prior consultation.

When to Contact Your Veterinarian About Your Dog’s Cold?

With the following symptoms, the pet parents must make an appointment with their pet’s veterinarian if their dog:

  • Is not eating and drinking properly
  • Seems to be uncomfortable
  • Is panting

The doctor will then rule out other reasons for your canine’s coughing, sneezing, and congestion. For example, it can be nasal foreign bodies, pneumonia, inhalation of allergens or irritants, nasal mites, tumors, and fungal infections. At the same time, your pet’s veterinarian would prescribe antibiotics such as decongestants, cough suppressants, and anti-inflammatories if he finds the cause to be from bacteria, for your dog’s speedy recovery.

Pro tips

  • Though there are no vaccines for the common cold in dogs, there are vaccines for the symptoms of canine colds. Hence, keep your dogs vaccinated up-to-date.
  • Vaccines for kennel cold, canine influenza, and distemper are of special mention to rule out serious illnesses in your pet.
  • Constantly check for outbreaks in your locality and avoid taking him out during these courses.


Understanding the information discussed in this article, you would take the necessary steps when your dog suffers from sneezing, coughing, or congestion. Remember to keep your dog away if you notice these symptoms to prevent the disease from spreading.

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