Dogs are great at catching all kinds of things—that sandwich you accidentally dropped, the once-stuffed toy that has no guts left, that tennis ball you’re actually trying to play tennis with… But, can your dog catch your cold?

While our cold and flu viruses cannot be spread to dogs, and canine cold and flu viruses cannot be spread to humans, dogs can still get their own version of a cold, called canine infectious respiratory disease.

Understanding canine infectious respiratory disease
Canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) is often caused by a virus, which can then be compounded by a secondary bacterial infection. Most cases are a result of several different bacterial and viral agents working together, including:

  • Parainfluenza
  • Canine influenza
  • Adenovirus-2
  • Respiratory coronavirus
  • Mycoplasma
  • Herpesvirus-1
  • Canine distemper
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica

CIRD can be spread through direct, nose-to-nose contact or through indirect contact on fomites—items that aid in the transmission of the illness—including toys, food and water bowls, or bedding.

Spotting canine infectious respiratory disease
Dogs suffering from CIRD will often exhibit a cough that sounds like a goose honk. Other common signs include:

  • Sneezing
  • Eye or nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hacking
  • Retching or gagging

Treating canine infectious respiratory disease
Since a viral agent is often the culprit behind CIRD, supportive care to mitigate your dog’s symptoms, plenty of rest, and adequate nutrition will be the primary “treatments” until her immune system is able to fight the virus. We may also prescribe a cough suppressant and antibiotics if a bacterial infection is present.

Preventing canine infectious respiratory disease
CIRD can most often be prevented by following an appropriate vaccination protocol. While some illnesses cannot be completely prevented with vaccination—like influenza and Bordetella—their symptoms will be less severe, and the duration of the illness will be shorter in vaccinated dogs vs. unvaccinated dogs.

Other ways to protect your pup from CIRD include:

  • Avoiding doggie daycares, boarding facilities, grooming salons, pet stores, and other facilities known to have CIRD outbreaks as well as those that do not require appropriate vaccinations for pets
  • Staying away from sick pets
  • Practicing good hygiene habits, including frequent washing of hands, bowls, and bedding

Be sure to watch for signs of CIRD in your pup and keep them away from areas where they would be exposed to CIRD if you are concerned about your dog catching it.