Can My Pet Catch a Cold? Upper Respiratory Infections in Pets

dog ill or sleepingVery few of us escape catching a cold every now and then, and if your pet has been sneezing, sniffling, or coughing, it may be tempting to just chalk it up to a head cold. While pets do experience illnesses that can seem like a cold, these symptoms are often much more serious than the common cold you or I might power through.

Upper respiratory infections in pets deserve some attention and are something all pet owners need to know about.

More Than Just a Head Cold

In people, the common cold is often caused by a rhinovirus. While there are certainly some viruses that can lead to upper respiratory infections in pets, humans and animals are not able to share a cold caused by the rhinovirus. This means that even if your whole human home has had the sniffles, if Fido is sneezing, too, it is likely a coincidence.

So what does cause upper respiratory signs in pets? There are many things that can lead to these symptoms, some of which are infectious and others not. Pets with coughing, sneezing, or a runny nose may have:

  • Kennel cough
  • Herpesvirus infection (cats)
  • Influenza
  • Distemper (dogs)
  • Parasites, such as lungworms or heartworms
  • Cardiac disease
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • A nasal passage foreign body or growth
  • Dental disease

Care for Upper Respiratory Infections in Pets

A pet who is exhibiting signs of an upper respiratory problem should be examined, especially if he or she is not eating well, acting lethargic, or has a fever. Please contact us right away if this is the case and our pet professionals at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital  will help get your four-legged family member feeling better.

Be sure to encourage your pet to eat and drink. Besides his or her normal water bowl, you may offer a few ice cubes or a little water flavored with tuna juice or low sodium chicken broth to encourage good hydration.

If your pet is congested, be sure to keep his or her eyes and nose clear of dried secretions. Spending some time in a room with a humidifier, or in a steamy bathroom, can also help.

Refrain from the urge to administer any human cold medications. Many human medications for cold symptoms are toxic to pets, especially those containing decongestants or fever reducers.

Colds are no fun no matter who you are, but upper respiratory symptoms in pets can be especially serious. Don’t delay in calling us if you are concerned. There is no cure for the common cold, but many of the causes of cold symptoms in pets need to be treated.