Can Dogs Catch a Cold?

Light brown fluffy dog wearing a red sweater with nose covered in snow

The Spruce / Anastasiia Tretiak

The winter months are often associated with the common cold, and since our dogs are also susceptible to many diseases, we often worry about them catching cold, too. Dogs can very occasionally contract a small number of the diseases that people get, so while it's rare that dogs catch a bug from people, knowing what precautions to take can help keep your dog healthy.

Can Dogs Catch a Cold From Humans?

Human colds can only affect humans (and perhaps some monkeys), so no, your dog cannot catch your cold. Cold viruses are species-specific and humans and dogs are not the same species. Dogs don't get colds, but there are many infections that dogs can get that cause similar symptoms to a cold.

Can Dogs Give Each Other a Cold?

While dogs can't technically catch a cold, infections that cause symptoms similar to those caused by the human common cold can be contagious to other dogs. Sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose can pass an infection from one dog to another. Because many infections are so contagious, a dog with a respiratory disease should be kept away from other dogs until they have been treated and are no longer showing symptoms.

Respiratory Diseases Dogs Can Get

Dogs develop a variety of diseases and issues that may have symptoms like a cold.

Bordatella

This bacteria is one of the most common causes of kennel cough in dogs, but it isn't the only one. Bordatella bronchiseptica does not cause a problem in people, but if dogs get it, it can cause a number of respiratory symptoms, including coughing. If left untreated, pneumonia can even develop. A vaccine is often used to help decrease the likelihood of a dog getting this highly contagious disease.

Distemper

This virus can cause respiratory and other serious symptoms and is highly contagious between dogs. The distemper vaccine is one of the core vaccines that all dogs should regularly get, since there is no cure for this disease. Dogs suffering from distemper experience coughing and difficulty breathing, which eventually leads to paw pad changes, pneumonia, seizures, and other symptoms. Distemper can be fatal.

Parainfluenza

Also known as CPIV, canine parainfluenza is not the same as canine flu, but it is still highly contagious between dogs. Like bordatella, the parainfluenza virus can be a cause of kennel cough, leading to respiratory symptoms such as coughing and a runny nose. There is a parainfluenza vaccine that is often included as part of a combination vaccine with several core shots, but this vaccine is not considered a core vaccine itself. If your dogs are often in close contact with other dogs, discuss vaccinating them for parainfluenza with your veterinarian.

Adenovirus

Adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is a disease that causes manageable respiratory symptoms similar to those of a person with a cold. A vaccine is available that also offers cross protection from the more serious adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1), which can cause hepatitis in dogs. Because of this, the adenovirus vaccine is a core vaccine.

Canine Flu

As with the common cold, dogs cannot catch the flu from a person, but dogs are susceptible to canine influenza, more commonly known as the dog flu. Two viruses are responsible for canine influenzaL H3N2 and H3N8. These viruses cause respiratory symptoms in infected dogs, but serious illness is rare if the disease is treated. Vaccines for both flu virus strains exist and may be recommended for dogs regularly exposed to other dogs through boarding, daycare, and shows.

Respiratory Coronavirus

While rare, a form of coronavirus in dogs can cause respiratory symptoms. It is not contagious to people. The infection is typically mild, with respiratory symptoms including coughing and sneezing. It may be seen concurrently with other respiratory infections that cause kennel cough.

Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. "Can Dogs Get Sick From Humans?" Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CCSPCA), 2017.