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Can Dogs Catch Colds from Cats? Important Facts to Know

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Humans and cats 1 can all get cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, and congestion, which is technically an upper respiratory infection. But what about dogs? Do they get colds, and can they catch colds from cats?

Dogs get infections 2 that give them cold-like symptoms, not unlike a “cold” in the same way a human gets a cold. Generally, however, dogs don’t catch colds from cats. The bacteria and viruses that cause colds tend to be acclimated more to dogs or cats and vice versa, and therefore affect just one animal, other than in rare cases.

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Do Dogs and Cats Catch Colds?

Dogs and cats can catch colds or the flu, both of which are caused by viruses. The symptoms are similar, such as sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, and a fever, but dogs may also show some different symptoms, like an altered bark or inappetence.

Further, when you’re sick, it’s best to avoid close contact with your pet. For example, being sick and cuddling with your pet leaves germs on them, which can then be transferred to other humans who also cuddle with your pet. The flu or a cold can travel through your household quickly this way. And some human infections may be picked up by cats or dogs.

Sick French Bulldog
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

How Do Pets Catch Colds?

People catch colds from close contact outside of the house, and it happens much in the same way with pets. Groomers, training classes, parks, boarding facilities, or simple walks that involve contact with other animals (or areas where animals were) can spread a cold.

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How Are Colds Different in Cats and Dogs?

Cats are prone to respiratory infections and tend to get similar symptoms as humans, including a runny nose and nasal discharge. In dogs, often symptoms include an altered bark, a sore throat, and coughing.

In dogs, the cold is usually caused by a canine respiratory coronavirus, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, or Bordetella (kennel cough). In cats, the virus that causes a cold similar to humans could be caused by herpesvirus or calicivirus.

a sick dog coughing
Image Credit: Igor Normann, Shutterstock

How to Treat a Cold in a Cat or Dog

Treating a cold in pets, whether a dog or a cat, is similar to yourself. There’s no antibiotic for a virus, so it takes time and rest to recover. Give your pet plenty of fluids and healthy food, a quiet place to rest, and avoid excessive exercise.

If the symptoms last longer than a week or two, it could indicate a more serious issue that requires a vet visit. Conditions like kennel cough and parvovirus, for example, can begin with some symptoms that mimic a cold before they get worse, and both need to be treated by a vet.

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In Conclusion

Our pets can catch seasonal bugs just like us, but they’re a little bit different. Dogs can’t catch a cold from a cat because the way colds present in these two species are different. But in either case, the treatment for a cold is just like for humans—rest, fluids, and good food. If you’re concerned about cold-like or flu-like symptoms in your pet or their condition worsens, be sure to contact your vet.

Featured Image Credit: memorable9, Shutterstock

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