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Can Dogs Catch A Cold Or Flu From Humans?

During the winter season, colds are prevalent.

Sniffles turn to sneezes, and a tickle in your throat can develop into a persistent cough.

Kids come home from school carrying the cold and spread it to the rest of the family.

Of course, you want to do everything possible to keep your family healthy, including your four-legged cuddle buddy.

And you may wonder, “Can my dog catch a cold or flu from us?”

Read on to learn the answer to this and more.

Can Dogs Catch a Cold from a Human?

In humans, it’s common to catch a cold after coming into contact with another person infected with the virus.

A cold is characterized by sneezing, a stuffy nose, or a sore throat.

You may also have watery eyes or excess mucus in the throat and nose.

The question is, can your dog catch it?

The good news is, you don’t have to turn your pup away if he wants to raise your spirits with a cuddle.

Why? The cold-causing virus is species-specific.

Can a Dog Catch a Cold from Another Dog?

Yes, your dog can catch a cold from other dogs.

While there’s no chance of you passing your cold on to your pup, another dog sneezing can get your pet sick.

Interestingly, dogs experience symptoms that are very similar to those of humans.

Although viruses that infect humans differ from those that infect dogs, the symptoms are usually the same.

Dogs will cough, sneeze, have a stuffy or runny nose, and even have watery eyes.

While dogs can spread many types of cold viruses to each other, I’d like to touch on one of the most common types of colds among them – kennel cough.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection.

Often it’s contracted when dogs interact with many other dogs in places such as training classes or dog shows.

The bad news is that your pup may not necessarily contract the disease directly from an infected dog.

Surprisingly, the virus can thrive on items such as water bowls or even on a favorite toy on which the infected dog may have dropped some saliva.

How will you know that your pet is suffering from kennel cough?

An infected dog will often gag and retch as if there’s something in the throat it’s trying to dislodge.

The dog will also have a blaring, hacking cough similar to a goose honk.

If your dog comes into contact with the kennel cough virus, it may take four to ten days for the symptoms to show.

And as far as treatment, you can keenly watch and wait or get a prescription from a veterinarian.

Can Dogs Get the Flu from Humans?

The human flu and common cold share have similar symptoms.

However, a fever and achy body may be indicators you’re suffering from a more severe condition – influenza.

Like with a cold, if infected, you can spread the flu virus to other people.

Therefore, it’s imperative to cover your sneezes and coughs.

Yet, is your dog at risk too?

Fortunately, your dog will be safe from the flu even if someone in your home suffers from it.

Nevertheless, let me bring to your attention a canine-specific infection you need to be aware of – canine influenza.

Canine Influenza

Just like the human flu, the dog flu attacks the respiratory system.

Also, again, its symptoms are similar to the human flu symptoms.

Your dog is likely to have a lingering cough that will last for about ten to thirty days.

The dog may also get feverish, sneeze, or you may notice some discharge from their nose or eyes.

To treat Canine Influenza, use an antibiotic or any other medicine prescribed to you.

You must isolate your dog if it’s infected with Canine Influenza to prevent transmission of the virus to other dogs.

Secondary Infections In Dogs

When cold or flu symptoms persist with no relief, it can create an opportunity for secondary infections to set in.

Fungi, parasites, bacteria, and viruses are the primary causes of secondary infections.

Secondary infections will cause your dog more distress, and their overall condition may get more challenging to treat.

What’s more, secondary infections will severely affect your pup’s overall immune system and, even worse, reduce their resistance to other diseases.

Are There any Transmissible Diseases and Infections Between Dogs and Humans?

The answer to this is an absolute yes. Several illnesses that plague humans are transmittable to dogs.

They include:

1. Salmonella

Salmonella is arguably the most common infection traded between canines and humans.

It occurs primarily through questionable hygiene, causing all manner of gastric unpleasantness.

The best way to avoid it is to always wash your hands after feeding your dog raw meat, after picking up your dog’s waste, and after using the restroom.

2. Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease easily transmitted from one species to another.

Failure to diagnose and treat it in time can be fatal.

Rabies is transmitted through saliva.

A scratch or bite that breaks the skin surface is enough to spread the disease to you.

Dogs can also contract the disease by feeding on the flesh of an infected animal, especially a rodent.

However, chances of contracting rabies from a human are very minimal.

3. Ringworms

Ringworms are among the many fungal infections that are spread from humans to dogs and vice versa.

The good news is, many effective anti-fungal remedies exist to help address these health challenges.

If left untreated, ringworms can spread throughout the body and to other animals interacting with your dog.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use veterinary products to treat human conditions and vice versa.

4. Lyme Disease

Ticks are annoying invaders on your pup’s skin which may sometimes attempt to bite you too.

If you or your dog should get bitten by a tick carrying Lyme disease, chances are it’s going to be transmitted.

In turn, the disease is traded between humans and canines.

5. Parasites

Parasites don’t discriminate between species.

That said, they don’t necessarily migrate from one species to another directly.

However, it’s possible to ingest them through contact with either contaminated soil or water.

Parasites can also find their way into your body when you consume unwashed raw vegetables and raw meat.

It’s best to make it a habit to deworm your entire family, including the dogs and cats, frequently to prevent the damage these parasites may cause.

Also, wash your hands after gardening, whether or not you had on gloves.

Another way to fight parasites is to cook your dog’s meat.

How to Prevent Dog Flu and Colds

Below are some tips on how you can minimize the risk of your dog catching the flu and colds.

Keep the Vaccinations Up to Date

Vaccinations won’t protect your dog entirely from everything.

However, to some extent, they can minimize the risk of contracting illnesses such as kennel cold.

Vaccinating your dog will also protect them from other diseases like canine distemper, parvovirus, infectious canine hepatitis, and leptospirosis.

Clean Their Things Often

Regularly wash your dog’s food, favorite toys, and water bowls, especially if they share these items with other dogs.

Also, ensure you change their water daily.

Feed Them With Nutritious Food

A quality diet rich in nutrients will boost your pet’s immune system.

Like the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” goes, the same applies to your dog.

A robust immune system will reduce the chances of your dog catching flu and colds.

Make Sure They Rest Enough

Rest is vital for animals too.

To prevent your dog from contracting certain illnesses, ensure they get sufficient sleep.

Believe it or not, there’s a recommended number of hours that a dog should sleep for – 12 to 14 hours a day.

Look Out for Potential Outbreaks

Keeping an eye out for possible outbreaks within your locality is among the best ways of protecting your pet against dog flu.

Keep in close contact with your area vet, who should alert you of outbreaks and further vaccination required.


The relationship between humans and dogs and the diseases and viruses they carry is complicated but, thankfully, not entirely symbiotic.

However, don’t shy away from cuddling your furry friend next time you feel under the weather with a cold.

Remember to keep your pup away from any potential infection. Let both your health and that of your dog always be your priority.

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National Canine Research Association of America