Can Dogs Be Under The Weather?

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Introduction

As protective dog parents, sometimes we get to thinking that there is something wrong with our pup. Whether it's a sprained tail, a runny nose, or anything else, it's easy to start worrying. But you may wonder -dogs can be physically injured, but can they ever really be sick? We're not talking about dog-specific diseases that our puppers can catch, like parvo, mange, or heartworm, we're more thinking about the flu or a cold.

Is there a dog version of both, or are their symptoms similar to ours? How do they catch it? Is there a way we can protect our dogs from getting sick? After doing some research and reaching out to an actual vet, we've come up with some answers. 

According to her, and other vets across the country, dogs actually can get the cold or flu, and oftentimes, their symptoms are similar to ours! They too have runny noses, coughing, sneezing, and even watery eyes when they get sick. However, she warned that many of these symptoms, which may seem like a minor cold at the time, can actually be signs of a more serious disease or illness in your dog, so it's important to always keep an eye on your pooch and make sure they stay as healthy as possible.

Signs Your Dog May Be Feeling Under the Weather

Depending on what kind of illness or disease your dog has, there are different things you need to look out for in your pooch. Let's talk about colds first. Like humans, there is a wide range of viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms in dogs. While the common cold cannot be transferred between dogs to humans and vice-versa, sometimes the symptoms are relatively similar, depending on the virus strain your pupper has. According to various studies, as well as the American Kennel Association, common cold symptoms include sneezing, coughing, a runny or congestive nose, and watery eyes. Another symptom is your dog just seeming generally "off" - perhaps not as happy or playful as usual, acting lethargic, weak, and sleeping a lot. Lack of appetite is also common in dogs that have a cold virus.

Regardless, it's important to pay attention to your dog when they're happy and healthy, so you can know what it looks like when they're feeling sick - they can't tell you that they feel stinky, so it's up to you to notice!

Now onto the flu, which is a little different. Unlike cold viruses, there are cases and reports of humans sharing influenza (or flu) viruses with dogs, and vice-versa. While uncommon, it's important to remember that it is possible. The flu, unlike the common cold, can be much more dangerous in dogs, just like humans. 

Dogs with the flu can develop two different types of symptoms: mild and severe. Dogs with a mild version of the flu will exhibit symptoms similar to that of a cold: they will most likely have a wet or dry cough with a runny nose. These symptoms can last anywhere from 10 to 30 days, but will usually go away on their own. On the other hand, dogs with a more severe form of the flu are much more at risk. Symptoms can include an extremely high fever, pneumonia, bloody coughing, difficulty breathing, malaise or weakness, and complete lack of appetite. 

It's important to remember that many of these symptoms occur in dogs that have more serious illnesses than the flu or a cold. For example, kennel cough, bronchitis, bordetella, parasites, or allergies all cause similar symptoms in your pup. In any instance, if your dog seems a little off and is showing some of these characteristics, it's always better to be safe than sorry and reach out to your vet. We always want our pooches feeling their best, so don't be afraid to schedule an appointment or an exam!

Body Language

These are some of the main signs you will notice if your dog has a cold or the flu:

  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Panting
  • Ears drop
  • Pacing
  • Weakness

Other Signs

Some more signs that may show up are:
  • High Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing (Especially if Bloody)
  • Acting Differently Than Normal
  • Watery Eyes
  • Runny/Congested Nose
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Lethargy

The History of Colds and Flus in Dogs

Chances are, viruses that affect dogs have been around as long as the canines themselves. As the dogs have adapted and changed over time, so have the viruses. All mammals are susceptible to various forms of infections.

However, the one aspect that only pups in recent times have had to deal with is catching bugs from humans. When dogs only lived outside, transmitting our sicknesses to them was rare. But, when they all started coming indoors (mainly in the last century), they became much more exposed to certain strains of the human flu.

This means that puppers of the present may face more sicknesses than in the past - because of us! That being said, living comfortably indoors with access to veterinary care has no doubt increased their basic well-being.

The Science Behind Sicknesses in Dogs

As previously stated, illnesses in dogs are like illnesses in humans - different viruses and parasites cause different illnesses and thus different symptoms, depending on their type. According to vets, "there are several types of parasites that can get into the lungs, heart and trachea, and which can also cause symptoms that mimic a cold infection." 

It's also important to remember that allergies can also cause some of these symptoms in dogs, which are far less serious and easier to treat with over-the-counter medications. However, you can't tell what's wrong with your dog just using the naked eye. 

If you are nervous about your dog having the flu, a cold, or another disease or illness, the only way to diagnose your pup is by taking him or her to the vet. Vets concerned about the health of a doggo will usually perform a physical, complete blood count, and clinical chemistry on your dog before making a diagnosis. An X-ray may even be taken to take a look at your pup's lungs. 

This all sounds scary, but almost all of these illnesses are treatable. Cough suppressants and antibiotics are generally prescribed, as is rest, and sometimes even isolation to keep your pupper from getting sicker. So long as you catch these symptoms early, your dog has a great chance of recovering, and returning to their happy, lovable self!

How to React If You Think Your Dog Is Sick

  • Vet, vet, vet! It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pooch's health. Even if it's just a cold that would otherwise disappear on its own, your vet may be able to prescribe something to help your dog get better, faster, which is best for all involved!
  • Rest! If your dog seems like they are sick, make sure to give them time to rest and recover. Don't take your dog on a 5-mile run if they don't seem to feel well in order to "sweat it out". Dogs deal with illnesses similarly to humans, and sometimes a good sleep is all your pup needs.
  • Make sure your dog continues to drink and eat. A weak pup is an unhealthy pup, and a dog that isn't eating or drinking normally will take longer to get healthy. Make sure they're continuing to eat all their meals, and encourage them with positive reinforcement (like pets and treats!) when they do so.
  • Wipe your dog's eyes and nose. By cleaning your dog up, you're getting the germs away from your doggo. The cleaner your dog is, the quicker they'll get healthier! If germs are hanging around, it's likely that your dog will stay sick for longer.
  • Use a humidifier. Dogs that are stuffed up or have runny noses react to humidified air the same way sick humans do. Respiratory challenges are often eased by breathing humidified air. You can either set one up near where they're napping or even invite them into the bathroom while taking a hot shower so they can breathe in that hot, moist air!
Poppy
8 Years
Labradoodle
Don't Really Get Colds or Flus
Signs

Just seems lethargic. Had very soft runny stools but not diarrhoea. Not interested in walk today. Just not her usual self.

4 months, 2 weeks ago