Common Canine Colds in the Winter

Just like people, dogs can get sick any time of the year. But, according to many veterinarians, the busiest time at the vet's office is during the winter months. Because of wet fur coats and extended times indoors when windows are buckled down and germs are locked inside, a dog is much more likely to contract a cold in January compared to July.

The symptoms of a sick dog are incredibly similar to a person who has come down with a cold. Burdens like watery eyes, uncontrollable sneezing and continued coughing can all be symptoms for a sick pooch. Dog colds are just like human colds, they are contagious to their peers. When your dog isn't feeling well, be sure to keep them from interacting with other pooches.

Most Common Colds
  • Kennel Cough is a very common illness with dogs that are kenneled, boarded or if they spend a long time at groomers or vet offices. Kennel Cough is easily distinguishable because it is a very dry, hacking cough.
  • Upper Respiratory Infection (URT): Like Kennel Cough, this highly contagious illness is contracted when dogs are in close quarters together. URT can cause nosebleeds and low fevers as well as cough and sneezing.
  • Pneumonia: Doggie Pneumonia is no laughing matter. It primarily affects young puppies and elderly pooches, but any dog that has spent time in the snow or rain can catch this viral infection. Usually this illness can be cleared up with a trip to the vet's office and antibiotics.
  • Common Cold: There is such a thing as a common cold for dogs. Runny noses, sleepy attitudes and watery eyes with occasional sneezing could mean it's a cold. It can be unpleasant but it isn't the end of the world. Doggie colds can be treated the same way you would for a child: lots of rest, blankets and drinking lots of water. If you insist on feeding your dog chicken noodle soup, be sure to remove the bones before serving.

How To Prevent Canine Colds
No matter how responsible you are with your pooch, the chances are high that they will become sick at some point under your care. If you have an elderly dog or a puppy, the chances of a cold are much higher than a middle-aged dog. The reason old and juvenile pups are at a higher at risk is due to a weaker immune system. However, there are some preventative measures you can take to make sure your dog stays a healthy pooch.

Avoiding Kennels: If you can avoid kennels and doggie day cares, you can quickly reduce the amount of pathogens and germs that come in contact with your dog. Any place with lots of dogs in an enclosed area puts your dog at risk for catching a cold.

Hound Heaters: If you live in a colder climate, the winter months can be brutal on your dog. Exercising and using the bathroom in the snow can make them susceptible to common colds and doggie pneumonia. Hound Heaters are like small doggie furnaces that can mount inside doghouses to keep them warm, safe and free of catching colds.

Winter Clothes: When the cold weather rolls in, preparation is everything. Whether your dog gets cold paws when they hop on the sidewalks or if he just needs a nice winter jacket to go outside when it's too frigid for his light coat. Warm clothing could be just the protection your dog needs to keep them healthy during the winter months.

Vitamins: When your joints start getting achy and your immune system isn't as strong as it once was, vitamins can be a smart addition to your daily diet. Dogs are the same way. There are a variety of different vitamins and supplements that formulated to keep dogs healthy, no matter what their age or breed.

If your dog starts sneezing and coughing, don't be alarmed. Everyone and every pet will eventually get some form or another of a cold. It is not the end of the world if you have a sick pooch. If you have a veterinarian that you trust, you can always call their office and describe your pooch's symptoms. Often a doggie cold will only last a few days and they'll be wagging their tails in no time once they start feeling better.

If you think you have a dog that is very sick with serious symptoms like nosebleeds, vomiting uncontrollably or running a high fever, be sure to take your pet to an emergency pet center as soon as possible. Dogs have a tendency to recover quickly from illnesses, but you need to make sure your pup doesn't have a serious infection.

By Sean Bowes
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