The sniffles, bunged up, the dreaded ‘man flu’: is your pet getting as sick as the proverbial? Find out how to spot, treat and prevent illness before your dogs catch colds, right here.
Can Dogs Catch Colds?
Am I Making My Pet Ill?
Although us dog owners and our pets have special bonds, it can sometimes still be tough to know exactly what’s going on inside our pets head. Never is this more obvious then when our beloved pets come down with a sickness bug, a cold or a similar problem.
At this time of year, colds and flus among us humans are common to say the least. If you’re constantly in close proximity to your furry friend, you may be worrying about whether you could infect your pet. The answer? The odds of you transferring your illness to your pet are extraordinarily low. The strains of the virus within us and our animals are completely different, so you don’t have to worry unduly.
This common misconception and the similar symptoms in animal and human illnesses has caused much confusion. The viruses are different across species, and so if you and your pooch are ill at the same time rest assured; you are not to blame. But they do get ill! You need to be able to read the telltale signs of a sick pup or cat. So what should you look for?
We’ve covered a few areas so that you can make sure your pup is operating at tip-top condition. This list isn’t all-encompassing but should give you a good idea of your dog’s general health. Remember, it is vital that if symptoms persist, if your dog is very old or young and therefore has a weaker immune system, or if you are particularly concerned about the severity of the condition, that you take your dog to see a vet. here’s what you can look for beforehand.
It’s in the Eyes
Eyes should always be bright and clear in both cats and dogs. Any teary discharge, redness, soreness and sensitivity to light is not good and may call for a trip to the vets. Cloudiness or a change in eye colour could also signal underlying problems. If your concerned about your dog’s eyes, this could be a signal of an underlying issue.
The Tooth, the Whole Tooth, and Nothing But the Tooth
In cats and dogs, teeth should be white with no excess tartar and gums should be pink or black and not red or swollen. Pets will never have the sweetest smelling breath – but a particularly strong odour can be an indication of the cold or flu, digestive problems, gingivitis or a bad tooth.
Skin & Coat
Depending on your breed of cat or dog their skin should be pink or black, and their coat thick and shiny with no broken hairs. Dandruff, fleas, bald patches or sores are poor health indicators, which could point to larger problems, and should be looked at by your vet.
Prick Up Your Ears
Your pet’s ears should always be clean, odourless and free from any waxy build-up. Thick brown or green wax/discharge, redness, itchiness and bad smells could signal problems.
Long-eared dog breeds will benefit from regular ear cleaning, although consulting your vet first is ideal. Always use special ear cleaners and never probe your pet’s ear with cotton buds.
Do Be Nosey
When it comes to your pets health, you should always be nosey. Check your dogs snout for crusting, runny discharges or bleeding on their nose. Frequent sneezing could also be a sign that your pet is unwell.
Dogs’ noses can change from black to pink and back again which is normal during the changing seasons. However if you have any concerns do speak to your vet. Although it is widely thought a cold and wet nose is healthy this isn’t always the case. Real indicators would be loss of appetite and behaving oddly.
Cats are also susceptible to flu so keep any eye out for excess nose running and sneezing.
Pets don’t need weekly paw-dicures but it’s important to check their claws regularly. Nails that are rough, flake or break easily may need to be seen by a vet.
Dogs’ claws should be smooth, and either white or black. Don’t forget to check the dewclaws too – these can be found on the inside of the leg just below the wrist. Depending on your breed of dog, dewclaws can be on just the front legs, front and back or your pooch may not have any at all.
Cats’ claws should also be smooth, and if you have an indoor cat ensure their nails are clipped regularly – your furniture will thank you.
A Healthy Appetite
In both cats and dogs, you should be able to feel the ribs with only a slight layer of fat. Your four-legged friend should have a distinguishable waistline and their belly should not droop down. If you spot any unusual weight loss or gain, this could signal an underlying health problem in your pet so take them along to the vet straight away.
Loss of appetite in your furry friend can be caused by a variety of factors; some pets are simply fussy eaters! However, if your cat or dog has not eaten or is struggling to eat after a day or two, contact your vet. Make sure you also keep an eye on how thirsty your cat or dog is. If your pet suddenly starts to drink more than usual, consult your vet as this could be an early warning sign of a serious illness.
Pet owners know it is not uncommon to find their cat or dog occasionally vomiting hair or grass. Dogs in particular will insist on eating anything, as we’re sure you know. However, persistent sickness or choking could signal a deeper problem.
Checking your pet’s stools is probably not at the top of your list of priorities as a pet owner, but spotting any unusual changes could alert you to an underlying health issue. Work out what colour and consistency is normal for your cat or dog – they should have no diarrhoea, constipation, mucus or blood in their stools.
Bad to the Bone
Like humans, sometimes the best way to tell if your pet is feeling unwell is by their behaviour and mood. If your dog begins to hang their head and tail down and is a lot quieter than usual, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Sick canines may also lurk in corners, dig holes in the garden to lie in or become unusually aggressive.
Cats are very good at hiding when they’re feeling ill so you’ll need to keep a sharp eye out. However if your feline suddenly shies away from human contact or acts aggressively you should contact your vet.
- The flu: dogs are susceptible to the influenza virus, but this mainly exhibits itself as a longer-lasting version of the cold. You can, however, go to your vet and be prescribed doggy cough medicine. Don’t give your dog human medication!
- Kennel cough: a virus recognisable by the prevalent symptom of a loud honking cough, kennel cough is normally transmitted in (unsurprisingly) a kennel environment. If you’re dog is coughing strangely take them to a vet.
- Allergies: dogs are just as susceptible to these irritations. If your dog is displaying any unusual signs or symptoms try to keep an eye on their behaviour.
What to Do When Your Dogs Catch Colds?
There are a few things that you can do that will definitely aid your pooch in their recovery. Keep your dog’s fluid up and make sure they eat something regularly – soup is just as good an idea as it is for humans! Give them plenty of time to rest, and don’t force walks or playtime until you’re sure they can cope. Getting some steam going can also help to clear your pupper’s airways: you can do this with a vaporiser, or even simply by leaving the shower on and popping them in the bathroom for a bit. Just keep an eye on them! Dog-specific medicine or any vitamins you can get your pet are sure to help, too.
Prevention is the Best Cure
As with many problems, it’s a great idea to try and avoid it before it has even happened. Speak to your vet about vaccination, which can prevent many of the main illnesses likely to affect a pooch in their lifetime. Although, it won’t completely immunise them, it will go a very long way to helping them out.
Follow our advice, and your dog will be happy, healthy and back to their old tricks in no time.