It’s that time of year - cold and flu season! And did you know that your dog or puppy can catch a cold too? Being shut indoors without a way to escape the germs makes winter a prime time for humans and pets to catch a cold. And while the virus that dogs catch isn’t the same as the human strand, the symptoms are pretty similar: runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.
While you can’t give your dog Sudafed, there are a few ways to help treat your puppy’s cold.
1. Use a humidifier.
Just like humans, warm, steamy air can help loosen up a stuffy nose. Placing a humidifier in the room where your dog sleeps is an easy solution. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can try running a hot bath or shower and keeping your dog in the steamy bathroom for a bit.
2. Clean your dog’s environment.
Clean the food and water dishes, toys and blankets, and anything else that might harbor germs and bacteria. You should also replace the food and water each day, even if there’s still some left over from the day before.
3. Make sure he get lots of rest.
This isn’t the time to take your beloved pup on a weekend hike. Make sure he’s getting plenty of rest. If he’s restless, go for a stroll around the block, not on a strenuous run.
4. Keep away from other dogs.
Their cold isn’t contagious to humans, but it is to other dogs. Unless you want a whole house of sick pups, keep him away from any other dogs or pets in your home. And just like you wouldn’t want your coworker to come in sick, keep him away from other people’s dogs too!
5. Give him plenty of fluids.
Staying hydrated is important to help your pup recover. It will also help keep the nasal fluid thin so it’s easier to breathe. If your dog isn’t drinking, you can try tempting him with low sodium chicken soup with brown rice and vegetables.
6. Keep your pup well fed.
Plenty of nutritious food will help with recovery. Plain chicken and brown rice are good choices. If your pup isn’t eating, it may be because his sense of smell is dulled. You can try microwaving the food to make the smell stronger, which may entice your dog more.
When to go to the vet
Most dog and puppy colds will go away on their own with a little love and care. But if they linger or don’t seem to get better, take your pup to the vet. What seems like a common cold could actually be kennel cough or another serious respiratory illness. And even if it is just a cold, it could progress into pneumonia if it doesn’t get better.
Very young puppies or old dogs should always be taken to the vet if they get sick. Their immune systems are weaker, and so the cold is more likely to progress to something worse.
Take all pet colds and illnesses seriously. Use these at-home treatments above, but don’t hesitate to go to the vet if symptoms get worse, don’t get better, or your pet is in serious discomfort. Your vet can check their symptoms more thoroughly and prescribe antibiotics if necessary.