Can cats and dogs catch colds? If pets can catch winter bugs from humans and expert advice from a vet

Colds are circulating across the UK as colder weather approaches

Many people are now experiencing colds and flu as winter draws closer, with runny noses, sore throats and coughs.

But can our pets get colds too and can they catch it from us?

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Here’s what you need to know.

Can cats and dogs catch colds from us?

Dave Tweedle, veterinary surgeon and clinical board vice-chair, My Family Vets, notes that  you don’t need to worry about your pets if you’re suffering from a cold or the flu, as “dogs and cats can’t catch colds from us”.

However, although they can’t pick up colds from us, they can still experience similar symptoms.

What does coughing mean in cats and dogs?

Coughing can be a sign of multiple health problems in dogs and cats, some more common and more serious than others, explains Mr Tweedle.

Health problems in dogs that cause coughing include Kennel Cough, respiratory infections, heart disease, fungal infections, lungworm, heartworm and distemper, but the most common cause of coughing in dogs is Kennel Cough.

Kennel Cough is highly contagious and dogs are most likely to get it when they’re around other dogs.

If coughing is your dog’s only symptom, then there’s a good chance they have Kennel Cough. It’s usually a dry, hacking cough that sounds almost like your dog has something stuck in their throat.

In most cases, Kennel Cough goes away on its own after 2-3 weeks and an annual vaccination will keep your dog protected. If coughing persists for more than seven days, contact your vet.

In cats, coughing can mean that your cat has an infection similar to the common cold such as cat flu, pneumonia or feline bordetella. It can also be a symptom of underlying health conditions such as asthma, allergies or heart disease.

Mr Tweedles explains that “an occasional, infrequent cough is often nothing to worry about”,  but if your cat continues to cough, or shows any other symptoms, you should get them along to your local vet.

Your vet will examine your cat and advise on the likely cause of the cough and possible treatment.

How can I make my pet feel better?

“The best way to make your pet feel better if they are feeling under the weather is to give them a good dose of TLC,” says Mr Tweedle.

“Make sure they are getting plenty of rest and have easy access to food and fresh water. If you’re concerned that their cough might mean that there is an underlying problem with your pet, take them to your local vet,” he adds.