Can Dogs Catch Colds? How to Tell and Treat Dog Colds

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My cousin, Jacquie, recently contacted me with a question about her puppy, Rock.

Rock had a runny nose, congestion, and was more tired than normal.

Though they called the vet, they could not get an appointment for a couple of days.

Home Remedies for a dog with a cold - natural remedies at home - dog coughing

Jacquie was wondering if dogs could get colds, and if so, had I ever dealt with a similar situation.

I told her that yes, dogs can get colds, though they are more commonly referred to as upper respiratory infections.

And that fall was “cold season” for dogs.

So what do you do if you think your dog has a cold?

Well, just like humans, there isn’t a magic pill to help get our pups feeling better overnight, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do to help keep them comfortable, and, help your pup to start feeling better faster.

Can Dogs Get Colds?

Dogs can get colds just like humans, but thankfully most of the viruses that cause cold symptoms are species-specific, so it is doubtful you and your dog will be contagious to one another.

Does my Dog Have a Cold?

Determining if your dog has a cold or a more serious medical condition is something you will want to discuss with your vet.

Unfortunately, colds share similar symptoms with more concerning health issues such as pneumonia, dog flu, coronavirus, or kennel cough, which is why it is vital to contact your vet.

Dog Cold Symptoms

Some of the symptoms[1] that your dog may experience if they have a cold are:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Watery eyes
  • Lack of energy or lethargy

However, if your dog has any of the symptoms listed below, your dog is likely suffering from a more serious medical condition and requires more immediate veterinary care.

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  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in appetite
  • Discolored discharge from the nose or eyes

Puppy Cold Symptoms

Puppies share the same symptoms as adult dogs.

However, their systems are more fragile since they are still growing, and seeking medical attention sooner than later is advised.

Puppies and adult dogs who attend doggy daycare or go to the dog park are at a greater risk of contracting a cold or upper respiratory infection.

Colds in dogs are like colds in humans in that they are contagious, so it is best to keep your puppy home until the symptoms have resolved.

How to Get Rid of a Dog’s Cold

If your dog is showing cold symptoms, you will first want to assess your dog’s overall condition.

If your dog does not show any changes in their appetite, energy level, or bowel movements, then trying a few home remedies will help relieve some of your dog’s discomfort.

Additionally, just like humans, it’s a good idea for your dog to rest, get plenty of water, and eat a healthy diet to give their immune system what it needs to fight off the virus.

Plus, if your pup has a runny nose, gently wiping their nose for them with a soft damp cloth will help keep them more comfortable.

Finally, dogs who are congested benefit from humidifiers[2], as it helps thin mucus and reduces irritation feelings in your dog’s nasal passages.

Home Remedies for Dog Cold

Here are a few home remedies to try that will help keep your dog comfortable and promote a stronger immune system.

Essential Oils

Using a diffuser with essential oils can help open your dog’s nasal cavities. I like using a combination of peppermint and eucalyptus.

Remember, your dog’s sense of smell is greater than yours, so start with a smaller amount; you can always add more.

Also, not all dogs enjoy the smell of these oils, so be sure to put them in an area that your dog can leave.


Just like the humidifier, running a hot shower for your dog to breathe in the steam will also aid in relieving congestion.

If your dog is not sensitive or opposed to eucalyptus and peppermint, adding these oils to the shower will boost the results.

Once you get the shower going with the door closed, lead your dog into the room and allow them to spend 10-20 minutes in the bathroom.

This is a good time to give them a Kong or dental chew to keep them occupied.

Related: Does Steam Kill Fleas on Dogs?

Bone Broth

If you purchase bone broth from your grocery store, avoid ones with added ingredients like garlic and onions.

beef bone broth can be soothing to a dog or puppy with a cold or respiratory infection

Otherwise, you can pick up one made specifically for dogs like the Honest Kitchen Daily Booster or Brutus Bone Broth For Dogs
both are made specifically with dogs in mind.


Feeding your dog honey when they have a cold will not only help ease their cough, but honey also contains antioxidants that will help boost your dog’s immune system.

healing and soothing a dog with a cold remedy - kennel cough treatment

Manuka honey is best, but raw honey will work too. However, never give a puppy raw honey.

Though we can’t cure our dog’s colds we can make it far more bearable with just a few home remedies.

Dog Cold Medicine Over the Counter

Never use cold medicine made for humans on dogs unless your vet recommends it.

Most human cold medicine is toxic to dogs[3], so using home remedies are the best and safest option.

If your dog’s cough or cold symptoms are severe, your vet may prescribe a cough suppressant (here’s how to give a dog liquid medicine), but they are not the same as what we use for humans, so always consult your vet first.


My cousin was able to get Rock into the vet the next day, and it turned out that he had pneumonia.

Thankfully, Jacquie caught it early before Rock’s condition worsened.

I am happy to report Rock got the medical care he needed and has made a full recovery.

Rock’s story reinforces why it’s critical to consult your vet if your dog is showing symptoms of a cold.


Can you give a dog cold medicine?

It is never a good idea to give your dog cold medicine unless directed by your veterinarian.

My dog has a runny nose, what can I give him?

You can use a humidifier, create a steam room in your bathroom, or a diffuser with essential oils to help relieve congestion.

Do dog colds go away on their own?

Yes, just like humans, there is no magic pill, and we have to wait for the cold to run its course.

How long does a cold last in a dog?

Most colds will resolve in 1-2 weeks.

My dog has a cold; are they contagious?

A cold is rarely contagious to other species such as humans and cats, but they are highly contagious to other dogs, so it is critical you keep them isolated until their cold is gone.


Home Remedies for Dog Colds - Pinterest - Natural Solutions - home remedies for cough

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