There are millions of cases of the common cold recorded every year in the United States. Most people don't worry too much about this common health issue, and they just wait for it to run its course within a few days. Did you know that dogs can get colds, too? All pet owners should know how to tell if your dog has a cold.
Colds are caused by viruses. There are numerous strains of the virus, but the viruses that affect humans are not the same as the ones that affect dogs. To put it simply, your dog cannot catch a cold from you and you cannot catch a cold from him.
While the viruses differ, the symptoms are very similar. The treatments are similar as well. Once you learn how to tell if your dog has a cold, you will notice the signs quickly and be able to help your pet as soon as possible.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has a Cold
Technically speaking, dogs don't actually catch colds. Instead, canines get upper respiratory infections (URI), that resemble symptoms of the common cold in people.
Symptoms to watch for include:
- nasal congestion and/or discharge
- difficulty breathing through nose (listen for sound)
- mild fever
- runny eyes
- mild lethargy
- loss of appetite
Keep in mind that dog cold symptoms can also signal a more severe illness, like kennel cough, canine distemper or dog flu. The canine cold usually lasts about a week. If the symptoms get worse or do not resolve themselves after 10 days, you should seek veterinary assistance.
When checking for a fever, you will get the most accurate temperature by taking it rectally. For instructions on how to do that, you can see my video guide on the subject. Keep in mind that a dog's normal temperature is 100˚F-102.5˚F – higher than the average 98.6˚F temperature of a human.
When learning how to tell if your dog has a cold, you need to know when his temperature is too high. If your dog is running a mild temperature (102˚F-104˚F), there is no need to worry. It should go down within 24-48 hours. However, if your dog's temperature is over 104˚ you must seek veterinary care immediately!
Treatment for Dog Colds
Now that you know how to tell if your dog has a cold, you need to know what to do about it. As I mentioned, the cold should run its course within a week or so. But, there are a few things that you can do to help your dog feel better as soon as possible.
Be sure to keep him warm. Provide him with extra blankets, and fit him with a sweater if needed. You could also get a heating pad or dog bed warmer, which your pup would probably appreciate in the winter months as well.
Your dog will also need plenty of rest to recover from a cold. On average, dogs sleep 12-14 hours each day, and your pet may need even more sleep than that if he's not feeling well.
Like humans, humid air may help a dog with a cold. The humid air helps to break up congestion. You can put a humidifier in the room where your dog is most likely to sleep. If you can, choose a cool mist humidifier to avoid risk of your dog getting burned on a warm mist humidifier.
Even though your dog may not feel like eating, it's important to keep him hydrated and try to get him to eat something. This will help to keep his strength up and give his body the nutrients it needs to fight off the virus.
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