A cold in a dog: what is important now
A sunny winter walk with your dog in the snow - that's probably the wish of many dog owners at this time of year. Unfortunately, the reality is often different: Darkness, muddy weather and wind are not necessarily inviting for extensive walks. There is also another effect: the colder it is outside and the less body fat and winter coat your four-legged friend has, the harder it is for him to maintain his body temperature. The consequence if he doesn't manage it well: he gets cold and could catch a cold. This article explains how you can tell if your dog has a cold and how you can get him back on his feet.
Symptoms: Recognising a cold in a dog
Your four-legged friend can also catch a cold or flu. As with humans, however, it can be treated well. Your four-legged friend may show the following cold symptoms:
- Nasal discharge: Watery, clear nasal discharge indicates a cold. The situation is different with bloody discharge: Your four-legged friend could have injured his mucous membranes with a foreign body or there could be a disease behind it. In this case, you should visit your vet immediately and have the cause clarified.
- Sneezing: If you notice that your dog sneezes frequently and there is no obvious cause, this indicates a possible cold.
Our tip: If you have planned a long walk with your dog, it's better to wait a little while to see how his condition develops so as not to strain his energy reserves unnecessarily.
- Rhinitis: If the nasal discharge becomes more viscous, less watery and changes to yellowish or greenish discharge, it is already a serious dog rhinitis or a respiratory infection. This is often accompanied by your four-legged friend having difficulty breathing, often accompanied by rattling breath.
- Watery eyes: Increased lacrimation can also indicate an infection. The eye discharge may also have a yellowish colour and be unpleasantly crusted on the eye. This is often accompanied by swollen eyes.
- Cough: A normal cough caused by a cold is easily treated. It can occur as a dry cough, in which your pet may develop regular coughing fits, sometimes causing him to gag. No less unpleasant is a productive, wet cough, where your dog coughs up mucus that has settled in the airways. As coughing can also indicate serious illnesses (e.g. kennel cough), we recommend that you always have a cough examined by a vet.
- Fever: The normal temperature of your four-legged friend is between 38 and 39 degrees Celsius. A higher body temperature indicates a fever. Depending on the condition of your four-legged friend, you should definitely go to the vet and have the cause clarified if the temperature is between 39.5 and 40 degrees Celsius.
- Tiredness: Your dog seems tired and listless, although he is otherwise a real whirlwind and keeps you on your toes? This could also be an indication that his body needs the energy to fight the pathogens. His tiredness is often accompanied by a lack of appetite.
Dog with a cold: What to do?
- Rest: Give your four-legged friend a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Let him sleep a lot, take it easy on him and avoid stress. Maybe his favourite place is in a quiet room anyway, so he can recover here.
- Keep warm: Make sure your dog is not cold or exposed to draughts and is always warm. A dog bed with a raised edge, for example, might be just the thing. If you have to go outside wrap your pet up warm enough, e.g. in a dog coat that can be easily pulled over. Only stay outside as long as necessary and come back to the warm quickly.
- Little exercise: Your dog probably has little ambition to move around a lot. Therefore, take it easy. A short stay outside is enough. If the weather is rather wet, carefully rub your dog dry with a cloth afterwards and make sure he gets warm again quickly.
- Keep your nose clear: If your dog has nasal discharge or rhinitis, it helps to clean his nose carefully on a regular basis. In case of crusting, a soft, thin cloth and lukewarm water or camomile tea will help to clean the nose and relieve skin irritation.
- Keep the air humid: Dry heated air and too high temperatures stress your dog and are very unpleasant for him, especially when he has a cold. Try to keep the room at a comfortable temperature and make sure the air is sufficiently humid so that your dog feels comfortable. Damp cloths on the heating or a humidifier can help if the air in the room becomes too dry.
- Sufficient fluids: Just like with humans, sufficient fluids are essential when your dog has a cold. Your dog should drink plenty of fluids and always have a water bowl with fresh water at a good temperature or lukewarm camomile tea (if your dog likes it) nearby. You can also mix both water and tea into his food if he doesn't drink enough otherwise.
Our tip: In general, it is worth strengthening your dog's immune system during the cold season. A balanced, vitamin-rich diet that strengthens the intestinal flora and supplies your dog with all the important nutrients, good paw care, sufficient exercise and the right dog clothing in uncomfortable weather can do a lot of good here. Find out whether your dog needs a dog coat in our article "When dog coats, pullovers and co. make sense".
Dog with a cold: When to go to the doctor?
Especially in the case of puppies with a cold or if you are unsure whether the symptoms are really caused by a harmless cold, you should have your pet's condition checked by a vet. Especially if you notice that the symptoms are increasing and your dog is getting worse, it is better to consult a doctor. If the cold is not caused by viruses but by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may help. Your vet can assess this and recommend the appropriate medication.
Is my dog contagious?
In fact, your four-legged friend could have contracted the disease from other dogs or even infect other dogs with its pathogens. The recommendation is therefore: Do not meet other dogs in the near future and wait until the disease is completely cured. Then your dog will be fit enough again to play and romp with others to his heart's content.
Home remedy for dog cold
A tried and tested household remedy that is particularly helpful for respiratory infections and colds is inhalation for your four-legged friend. Thyme, camomile tea or table salt help to clear and keep the airways clear, loosen mucus and have an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect.
Our tip: If you proceed as described below when inhaling, the vapours can develop their effect best, as you can be sure that your four-legged friend also inhales them. Alternatively, you can sit down together with your pet and have a little cuddle with the steam. However, always make sure that the water is not too hot and that the bowl is safely placed.
Inhaling with your dog - this is how it works
That's what you need:
- dog box / transport box
- your four-legged friend's favourite blanket
- cloth, blanket to cover
- boiling water
- tea, table salt
- Make the dog box cosy: If your dog likes his box, you can make him comfortable in it and close the door behind him.
- Cover the box: If he accepts that you put another blanket or cloth over the box - perfect - but otherwise it works without a blanket. Close the door.
- Boil water: First prepare the inhalation liquid with the boiling water, e.g. pour on table salt or make a tea. Then pour everything into a stable bowl.
- Put the bowl down: Place a bowl with very warm (not hot) tea or salt water at a safe distance in front of the box so that your four-legged friend can inhale the steam.
Conclusion: In the cold season, it's not just us who have to fight colds, coughs and the like from time to time - our faithful companions can also catch them. With sufficient rest, loving care and plenty of fluids, the unpleasant side effects of an infection in dogs can be quickly under control. However, if your pet seems completely different, his condition does not improve or a strong cough and high fever develop, the causes must be clarified by a doctor. With the right medication, your four-legged friend will be fit again quickly.
Do you have any tips on how your pelt-noses can recover particularly quickly? Tell us about it, we are curious!