Home Dog Health My Dog Has a Cold. What Do I Do?

My Dog Has a Cold. What Do I Do?

My Dog Has a Cold - What Do I Do

We are all well aware of the common cold since there are millions of cases recorded every year in the U.S. alone, according to CDC. You probably know what to do if you get a common cold, but what about your pooch? Let’s take a look at some things you can do to help your dog overcome his cold.

ALSO READ: Can Dogs Get Colds?

How to Recognize Dog Cold?

While the cold in dogs is not exactly the same thing as common cold in humans – because it is usually caused by different viruses and dogs cannot catch a cold from humans – the symptoms are pretty much the same.

Technically, dogs do not catch colds; instead, they get upper respiratory infections (URI), that resemble symptoms of common cold in people. These symptoms include your dog sneezing, coughing, having watery eyes, runny nose and congestion. The dog might just feel “off” or get a mild fever. For that reasons, it's simply convenient to call this a “dog cold.”

Keep in mind that dog cold symptoms can also signal a more severe illness, like kennel cough, canine distemper or dog flu. You must take your pooch to the vet if their health doesn’t improve within a few days or at most a week.

How to Treat a Dog’s Cold?

How to Treat a Dog’s ColdA dog’s cold is generally not a serious condition and you can help your pupper deal with it get over the cold faster without taking him to the vet or giving him any drugs, unless his condition worsens or doesn't improve within a few days.

1. Keep Your Dog Warm

Keep your dog in a warm and humid environment if you notice any cold symptoms. Provide some blankets for him to use. If your dog is used to wearing clothes, you can put a sweater on him to make him warmer.

You can also get a heated pad or a self-warming dog bed if you don’t have one yet. These beds and pads keep your pooch warm at all times, but they also provide low heat to protect your dog from overheating.

If your canine starts to pant heavily, it can be a sign of overheating. Remove some layers off him or turn the temperature down a bit in that case. With self-warming beds, this will rarely be an issue and is more common with heating pads or warm clothing.

2. Let the Dog Rest

Dogs need to rest just as humans when they are fighting a cold. Dogs usually sleep around 12 to 14 hours a day, but they might need even more rest when dealing with common cold. Don’t take your pet for long walks or play physically demanding games with him. Let the pup rest as much as he needs to until his symptoms subside.

3. Increased Fluid Intake

Keep your dog hydrated at all times. Even when the dog is not sick, they should always have access to fresh, clean water. Change your dog’s water once a day at least and keep his bowl clean at all times. Use soap and hot water to clean the bowl.

Sometimes dogs will refuse to drink water when they are ill, but there are ways to encourage your pet to consume liquids anyway. You can add a bit of chicken or beef broth to his water to encourage drinking. If your pet still doesn’t drink water for an entire day, take him to the vet to prevent dehydration.

4. Increased Humidity

Humid air can help dogs with cold to breathe easier. Put up a humidifier in the room where your dog sleeps. If you can, choose a cool mist humidifier to avoid risk of your dog getting burned on a warm mist humidifier.

5. Feed the Dog a Healthy(ier) Diet

Dogs should consume enough calories when they are fighting a cold. Let your pet free-feed until his symptoms subside, unless you are instructed differently by your vet.

Stick to warm meals. In this case, homemade food may be better instead of regular store-bought kibble. Things like beef or chicken broth can help him get over his cold faster.

If your dog is not eating enough or not eating at all, you might want to try hand-feeding to encourage him. If that doesn’t help, take him to the vet.

The Best Home Remedies for Canine Cold

The Best Home Remedies for Canine ColdDogs with a cold can fight it off faster with these home remedies:

Soup and Broth

A nice and warm old-fashioned chicken soup is a great help for dogs with cold. Make the soup with low-sodium chicken stock, chicken breast and add a bit of brown rice to it. This can boost the immune system of your pooch and help him regain his energy. It can also help you keep your dog hydrated.

In addition to chicken soup, any other soup or broth can also help. For example, beef broth or even vegetable soup will be great. Serve them warm but not hot.

Herbal Remedies

Vitamin C may or may not help your dog’s immune system, since the evidence on this is still conflicting. You may want to add a bit of fresh fruits and vegetables to the dog's diet. Apples, strawberries, pumpkin, cantaloupe and carrots are all good sources of this vitamin.

Generally, try to avoid citrus fruits since they can be toxic to dogs. Some holistic vets recommend crushing a quarter of one vitamin C tablet and add it to your dog’s meal, but there's no evidence to this being effective. Never give your dog any human vitamin C supplements.

Garlic supplements can help your dog fight off the early symptoms of cold. Elderberry extract is very effective against cold in humans and dogs alike. Keep in mind that elderberry plant is toxic to dogs, so don’t try to give it to your dog in any other form except the elderberry extract.


Honey is well-known for its soothing ability when it comes to canine colds and coughs. There's been number of studies on its benefits for dogs. However, honey is high in sugar so you shouldn’t give it to obese or diabetic dogs and generally provide in very small amounts. A teaspoon of honey with a meal is enough for an adult dog and it can help with cough and stuffy nose. You can also use a honey supplement.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is proven to kill harmful bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites and fungi. It is a great thing to fight any infection. You can add coconut oil to your dog’s food or give it to him raw if he wants to take it. Stick to 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of dog’s weight per day.

How to Prevent Cold in Dogs

While it is impossible to keep your dog away from ever catching a cold, there are a few things you can do to decrease the risk:

  • Keep your dog active – Regular exercise can improve your dog’s immune system.
  • Feed him a balanced diet – Your dog should be on a diet appropriate for his size and age and rich with valuable nutrients.
  • Keep his bowls clean – Dirty food and water bowls are a good breeding ground for germs. Wash his dishes at least once a week.
  • Take him for regular vet checkups – Take your dog to a checkup at least twice a year and stay up to date with vaccinations.
  • Keep sick dogs in quarantine – If you have multiple dogs and one of them has a cold, keep him away from other dogs until his symptoms go away.

Dogs can catch a cold just like humans. In general, it's not a serious condition and can be treated at home. Keep your dog warm, provide plenty of fluids and food and let your dog rest. Give him home remedies like different herbs, honey and especially chicken soup or broth. If his symptoms don’t improve within a week or become more severe, take your dog to see a veterinarian.

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Kelly works as a veterinary technician in Austin, TX as well as regular animal rescue volunteer. She's been an animal lover and dog owner since childhood, and has worked in different dog related fields over the last twenty years. Currently she lives with three dogs and a cat.