What to do if your dog gets a cold. And a word or two about prevention

Men are such big sucks when they catch a cold. So says my wife, who after several decades of marriage is fairly knowledgeable about these things.

Dogs? They sneeze, cough, develop redness of the eyes, lose their appetite, have difficulty breathing, and become lethargic. But they never, ever complain.

They look so sad and helpless, though, which is why it’s important to make them as comfortable as possible until their cold passes, which shouldn’t take too long.

Dogs descended from wolves, which have advanced immune systems to protect themselves from predators preying on the weakest members of the pack.

Dog in bed

Meanwhile, here’s a few suggestions to help your dog get better.

  1. Never blame yourself for his/her cold. The symptoms may be similar, but it is impossible for a dog to catch a cold from you.
  2. Homemade chicken soup. It works for humans and dogs benefit too, the chicken, rice and stock providing them with energy and nutrition needed to fend off the virus.  Serve it lukewarm, though, and check for bones.
  3. Steam up the room – running a hot shower, plugging in a humidifier or vapourizer will do the trick. Add a drop of eucalyptus or mint oil to the vaporizer to help clear his nasal passages.
  4. Make sure he drinks plenty of fluids – if he’s not interested, keep leading him back to his water bowl. Change the water frequently.
  5. Keep your pooch warm. Heat up his bed with a warm water bottle and give him a warm blanket to sleep with.
  6. Limit his walks to poo and pee breaks. Don’t want to exhaust him further.
  7. If he’s a pup, or an older dog, you might consider taking him to the vet as a precaution. If the cold seems worse than usual, it could be a sign of other afflictions – kennel cough, influenza, allergies or parasites. Again, get him to the vet.

Hiding dogs

No one likes to see a pooch suffer, try to be a little more pro-active before the cold season strikes:

  1. Getting your dog vaccinated once a year will help protect him from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and boosts his over-all immune system.
  2. Herbs rich in vitamin C also improve a dog’s immunity.  Eucalyptus, elderberry extract and certain herbal flowers are good sources. Check with a holistic vet for the do’s and don’ts of this strategy.
  3. Stick to a high quality diet and re-fill the water bowl once or twice a day.
  4. Keep your pooch clean so those germs he picks up sniffing, rolling and gallivanting through life don’t multiply.


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Blog Post By Lyndsey Whitefield
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