Can My Dog Get COVID-19 or a Cold from Me?
It’s that time of year when everyone you know seems to be getting sick. The common cold and various strains of COVID-19 are spreading in the colder air as people spend more time inside and see others with viruses more often. At this point, you may be wondering if your dog can get a cold or COVID-19 from being around an infected person.
The short answer is that a dog can get COVID-19 but cannot generally catch the human cold. However, dogs can get respiratory illnesses similar to colds but caused by a different virus. If you have a dog, it’s important that you know what cold-like illnesses they can get and how you can protect them or help them when they’re under the weather.
Can a Dog Catch COVID-19?
In short, a dog can catch COVID-19. It’s rare for a dog or other animal to get COVID-19, but it has happened. In fact, this virus is believed to have originated in an animal and spread to humans. Around the world, animals such as bats, dogs, cats, and mink have tested positive for COVID-19.
Most of the time, dogs with COVID-19 have only a very mild infection. Many don’t show any symptoms at all! Thankfully, COVID-19 isn’t something to worry about too much if your dog does get it.
How To Care for a Dog with COVID-19
If you believe your dog has COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, there are a few things you can do to help them recover quickly. First, watch for symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Eye discharge
- Difficulty breathing
If your dog manifests these symptoms or if you suspect they caught COVID-19 from you or a friend, call your veterinarian. You will likely be advised to keep your animal indoors and avoid parks or other areas where the virus could spread between dogs.
In addition, your vet may tell you to keep your dog in a separate room from other family members or wear gloves when you’re handling your dog’s food, bedding, or waste. It’s always best to wash your hands after touching a dog with COVID-19, especially if you or someone you know has a higher risk of serious illness (e.g., those immunocompromised or 65+ years old).
Don’t put a mask on your dog or wash them with antibacterial wipes as these activities could harm dogs and won’t keep anyone safer.
Watch your dog’s symptoms. If they seem healthy for at least 72 hours and/or haven’t had a positive COVID-19 test in 14 days, they should be able to go back to normal life. If your dog’s symptoms worsen, connect with your vet for further instructions. Don’t take your dog to the vet without calling first to avoid exposing other people or animals to the virus.
How To Care for Your Dog when You Have COVID-19
If you get COVID-19 and don’t want to spread it to your dog, your best bet is to avoid contact with your pup as much as possible. If you can, allow someone else in the home to care for your dog.
You will likely want to avoid cuddling, kissing/licking, and sharing a bed with your dog while you are sick with COVID-19. Use common sense in avoiding contact and keeping a mask on yourself when possible.
However, keep in mind that human to pet transmission is not common, while pet to human transmission is almost unheard of. If you or your dog does have COVID-19, there’s generally no need to panic. Call a vet and/or your doctor if you are concerned.
Can a Dog Catch a Cold?
Dogs cannot generally catch human colds; while it may be theoretically possible, actual instances of human to dog transmission are incredibly rare. Human colds are caused by various viruses, most commonly the rhino viruses along with corona, respiratory syncytial, influenza, and parainfluenza viruses.
Dog colds are caused by similar viruses but not generally the same as those passing from human to human. Often, dog colds come from illnesses like kennel cough, bronchitis, parainfluenza or influenza, or canine distemper.
Common Dog Colds and Symptoms
If your dog catches a dog cold, they will usually exhibit symptoms similar to those you would expect from humans, including sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and watery eyes. If you think your dog has a cold, it’s a good idea to call your vet for advice.
The most common causes of dog cold symptoms include:
- The influenza virus, or dog flu, which is usually not serious but causes common cold symptoms, especially nasal discharge.
- The parainfluenza virus, which causes symptoms including a fever and lethargy, but is often treated at home.
- Canine distemper, a serious and sometimes fatal disease that progresses from cold symptoms to more severe symptoms like dizziness, difficulty breathing, nausea, and seizures.
- Bronchitis, which is often chronic and causes long-term coughing and respiratory issues.
- Kennel cough, perhaps the most common cause of cold in dogs, which is usually spread in kennels or other crowded areas. A strong, honk-like cough is the most prevalent symptom.
If you notice signs of a cold in your dog, be sure and check in with your vet. Occasionally, signs of a cold can indicate a more serious disease, such as distemper or even parasitic infections. Your vet can do some tests to rule out more serious illnesses.
How To Care for a Dog with a Cold
If your dog has a cold, they generally don’t need too much care. In most cases, you’ll want to provide them with plenty of water and rest as needed. Sometimes, your vet may recommend antibiotics, especially if your dog is sick with kennel cough or another infection.
Keep in mind that there are vaccines for distemper, influenza and parainfluenza, and kennel cough. Talk to your vet about whether they would recommend a vaccine for your dog based on their health and circumstances.
Taking Care of Your Dog
Most colds can be avoided if you keep your dog healthy with nutritious food, lots of sunshine, a clean environment, and an appropriate amount of exercise.
If you’d like help keeping your dog’s yard clean of poop to provide them a safer, healthier place to play, our team would be happy to help! Check out our services and let us do some of the poop scooping for you so you can keep your dog as happy and as healthy as can be.