Sick As a Dog: What to Do When Your Pup Has a Cold

sickdogIt’s that time of year: sniffles, watery eyes, the nonstop sneezing and coughing. It’s definitely cold season and what goes for humans also goes for dogs. So how do you know when your dog has a cold and how do you treat his symptoms? Consider some of the following home remedies that can help alleviate cold symptoms and have your bundle of joy right as rain in no time.

  • Inhale Steam – Run a hot bath or shower so that steam builds up in your bathroom or use a common vaporizer in the room where your dog sleeps. Just as with humans, steam can help clear up his nasal passages.
  • Rest Up – It’s probably not a good idea to take your pup on long walks until his symptoms improve, although he may not feel good enough to go walking anyway. Also, try to restrict play time for very active dogs (easier said than done, we know!).
  • Explore Herbal Remedies – Herbs that are vitamin C rich help boost your dog’s immune system. Safe herbal remedies for dogs include eucalyptus, elderberry extract or flowers, colloidal silver and mullein flowers. Check with a holistic veterinarian to make sure you’re giving your dog the appropriate amounts of herbs and for tips on how to administer them.

What Symptoms Should You Be Looking For?

Dog’s cold symptoms can be very similar to human symptoms — a runny or stuffed up nose, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing. He may be more lethargic and not eating with as much vigor as usual. But it’s important to distinguish a cold from other dog illnesses that could be more severe.

  • Nasal congestion and discharge.
  • A little difficulty breathing through the nose.
  • Occasional coughing.
  • Mild fever.
  • Runny eyes.
  • Sneezing.
  • General lethargy.
  • Loss of appetite.

If you’re worried that your dog has something other than a common canine cold, here are some other illnesses and conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

  • Kennel Cough – An infectious virus that causes a cough with a loud honking sound, usually transmitted by dogs in a kennel environment.
  • Influenza Virus – Cold-like symptoms but typically with a fever.
  • Allergies – Allergies to environmental conditions or food products are just as common in dogs as in humans.
  • Parasites – A number of different parasites can get into a dog’s lungs and trachea and cause chronic coughing

Prevention is the Best Medicine

As most of us know, it’s easier to prevent a cold than to deal with it once it’s here. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends dogs get vaccinated every year with the “5-in-1” vaccine that protects him from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. While this doesn’t guarantee that he’ll avoid a seasonal cold, it does protect him from more severe illnesses that share some of the same symptoms — while also boosting his overall immune system. If your dog is sick and you’re still not sure if if it’s solely a cold, always see your vet.

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