The average adult gets a cold 7 times a year with this number jumping to 12 times a year if you’re a child. That’s a huge amount and every time you might be thinking ‘can dogs get the flu from humans like me?’ and this could make you feel even worse or stress you out. Most dogs want to stay close, protect you and com-fur-t you when you’re ill, but should you let them?
The short answer is no. Your dog can’t catch your cold. It’s perfectly okay to have your dog cuddle up and comfort you when you’re ill. Dogs can catch a cold but it’s very different from the kind of cold us humans suffer from.
Based on preliminary studies dogs can get the flu from humans and in very rare cases these can be fatal. Stay away from your dog as best you can if you have the flu. Make sure your dog can’t get into your bin with all the dirty tissues. Ideally, you get someone else to feed your dog while you’re ill too.
While the flu is very similar to a cold in terms of the kind of symptoms you get, they’re very dif-fur-ent viruses to dogs. A good way of spotting whether or not you have the flu is checking if you have a fever or if your body feels achy. The flu can last considerably longer than a cold.
Many veterinary and virologist professionals have concluded that cases of dogs getting influenza from their owners are rare but definitely possible. You can tell if your dog has the flu if you see a loss of appetite, irregular sleeping patterns, fever, coughing, lethargy or having difficulty in breathing. Make sure you go to the vet if you see any of these symptoms.
Much like how a dog can’t get ill from your cold, you can’t get a cold from your dog. However, colds and the flu are contagious between dogs and you must keep on top of a cold or the flu in your dog to minimise the risk of infecting others. One thing to be aware of in day to day life is that if you’ve been in contact with a sick dog you could bring those germs home on your hands and potentially infect your own dogs. Make sure you wash your hands regularly if your dog is sick too. If you have more than one dog, make sure their water and food are separate and they’re kept apart as much as possible.
Much like when we’re sick, dogs tend to be more lethargic and lose their appetite. They’ll sleep a lot more and try and recover. You need to make sure they’ve got plenty of water available and give them the option of eating some food if they’re feeling a bit ruff. Use a soft cloth to dab their nose or eyes if they start running. Most of the time your dog will recover after a few days but if your dog isn’t eating or drinking and is vomiting or has diarrhoea you need to consult a vet.
You should consult a vet if your dog has a cold if they have a pushed-in face such as a pug, Pekinese or a bulldog. The biggest risk that’s associated with a dog’s cold is a misdiagnosis, a lot of the symptoms are very similar to other more serious illnesses such as kennel cough and parasites.
If your dog has the flu, you should consult your vet to make sure you know the different procedures and to make sure it’s nothing more serious. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry, if you’re ever in doubt go see the vet.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.