Can A Dog Catch A Cold From A Cat? (Science Driven)

If you're worried about whether your dog can catch a cold from your cat or that it already has that's understandable as no one wants to see their pets sick. 

When your feline friend lets out a dramatic sneeze, you probably don’t think much of it. You may even laugh at her ridiculous sneeze face.

But if you also have a dog at home, you may be concerned about the dog catching this pesky cold.

So can a dog catch a cold from a cat?

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Fortunately not! Your dog cannot get sick by catching a cold from your cat.

Well, at the very least it’s extremely unlikely that your cat will pass it's cold onto your dog.

This is because the sickness-causing bacteria and viruses tend to be species-specific and affect only one kind of animal.

There are very few exceptions to this rule of thumb, however, these are anomalies and considered to be huge scientific discoveries.

So, it’s unlikely that you’ll be unfortunate enough to experience this. 

In fact, 90% of all colds in cats are caused by one of two viruses- feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. The keyword to spot here is “feline,” meaning it is only applicable to cats.

Some illnesses such as chlamydia and bordetella can cause cold-like symptoms in cats, but there’s probably more risk of your dog passing one of these onto your cat rather than vice versa.

Cat viruses make cats sick, and dog viruses make dogs sick. They don't species hop.

What’s more is that cats tend to spread their illnesses via close contact, sharing food and water bowls, or sharing a bed. Luckily, cats and dogs tend to choose to sleep apart.

However, this isn’t always the case. If your cat and dog are inseparable, consider trying to keep them apart if one of them shows symptoms of sickness- just in case. 

Can a dog catch a cold from a cat

How do colds differ in dogs and cats?

Believe it or not, there are far more differences between cat and dog colds than there are similarities. The first symptoms cats tend to show is a runny oozy nose and gunky eyes.

These symptoms are pretty easy to spot, so you can keep an eye on your feline friend.

However, symptoms of a cold in a dog are much harder to spot. This is because when dogs get a cold, it tends to settle in their airways.

This means that they’ll probably develop a sensitive and consistent cough and a sore throat. In cats, keep an eye out for difficulty when eating.

Cats usually develop mouth ulcers when they get a cold, making mealtimes painful.

Also, dogs have a great immune system. After just a couple of days of feeling poorly, they recover and develop immunity from that specific illness, so they’ll never experience the same sickness again.

However, the case isn’t always so cut and dry with cats.

Some cats, particularly weak or young cats, hold onto a part of the illness and become carriers instead. 

This means that they’re a constant risk to other cats and themselves. However, they’re not a risk to dogs.

One similarity between colds in cats and colds in dogs is that they both affect the upper respiratory tract.

Also, they’re extremely infectious and can be easily passed between members of the same species. 

Can I pass on my cold to my dog?

Dog colds are not contagious to humans. You can't catch a cold from your dog, any more than your dog can pick up a human strain of a cold virus from you.

However, dog colds and influenza are highly contagious between dogs, which means you have to be careful not to help transmit the germs. Don’t let a sick dog interact or play with another dog, it will get sick too.

How do I know if my dog has a cold?

The symptoms should be familiar as they are very similar to those experienced with human colds.

Here are a few signs that your dog may be coming down with a cold:

  • Sneezing
  • A blocked nose
  • A runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Decreased hunger
  • Decreased activity
  • Increased sleeping

However, while these symptoms do indicate a cold, they may also be attributed to more serious illnesses, including kennel cough, parasites, dog flu, canine parainfluenza virus, canine bronchitis, fungal infection, or temper problems. 

If your dog experiences any of the mild or more serious symptoms above, we recommend taking them to a veterinarian right away. It’s a smart move to take your dog to the veterinarian if you suspect a respiratory infection.

A doctor can rule out anything more serious. A cold can also become life-threatening in a very old or very young dog as their immune systems are either compromised or not yet fully formed. 

How do I treat a dog with a cold?

Treating a dogs’ cold is very similar to treating a human cold, except dogs get to stay home and recover rather than go to work. While a cure for a cold just isn’t plausible, here’s a few examples of how you can make your dogs’ flu experience more comfortable:

  • Keep your dog warm and dry when possible.
  • Limit their exercise and amount of walks, especially during cooler months.
  • Give them healthy food that’s easy to digest, like boiled chicken and brown rice. You can also make bone broth yourself.
  • Use a warm mist humidifier near your dogs’ bed, this can help with any breathing problems caused by a common cold.
  • Try to get your dog to drink more water- do this by leaving bowls of water strategically placed around your home, particularly in areas where your dog likes to spend a lot of time.
  • Use a grooming cloth or animal-friendly wet wipes to wipe away nasal discharge.
  • Try some natural treatments to help their breathing and lessen congestion- honey and coconut oil added to your dogs’ food is great for helping to fight infection.
  • Use soothing balm if your dog’s nose is chapped. 
  • Let your dog rest as much as possible.