When a dog catches a cold, the symptoms mirror those of the human illness; however, the bugs involved are quite different. In canines, a runny nose, coughing and sneezing come exclusively from an upper respiratory infection that can be bacterial, viral or fungal, according to Natural Pet Health. The bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica, part of the kennel cough complex, is one of the least serious of respiratory infections your dog can contract, and with the exception of several severe infections, there's plenty you can do to relieve your pup's symptoms and set him on the road to recovery.
If your dog is coughing as if something is caught in his throat and he presents with a runny nose and eyes, the most likely culprits, other than Bordetella bronchiseptica, are parainfluenza and adenovirus type 2. Much more serious, and less common, among the respiratory illnesses are pneumonia and distemper. Untreated viruses can develop into pneumonia. Distemper is a respiratory illness with a serious gastrointestinal component. Because many dogs die from distemper, vaccination is vital.
Respiratory infections run their course in about two weeks. You can treat your adult dog at home provided his symptoms are mild. Cold symptoms in puppies and mature dogs can quickly advance into serious illnesses. If you have a puppy or older animal, caution is advised, and you might do best to visit your veterinarian. You can count on your vet to conduct a thorough physical, possibly with blood analysis. She may order a chest X-ray, depending on you pet's congestion, to look for pneumonia.
If your dog's cold is caused by a bacterial infection, your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral and fungal infections. But keep in mind that a secondary bacterial infection can result from a virus once the immune system is compromised, explains the Dog Health Guide. An antibiotic might nevertheless be useful for a viral infection.
The best thing you can do for your ailing pup is keep him dry and toasty warm, says the Dog Health Guide. During the winter, cold weather can do a number on your animal's respiratory tract. Frigid temperatures will encourage constriction of the bronchial passages, making breathing difficult. Just as you would for your child, you can set up a vaporizer near your dog’s bed. The vaporizer keeps the bronchial tubes wet and makes breathing easier.
The same advice for humans applies to dogs when it comes to nutrition and wellness. Make sure he eats good food. Also, warm chicken soup is great for what ails him. It'll keep him hydrated and he'll just lap it up. Also, you could consider giving him a steam room treatment by running a very hot shower in your bathroom. Let your dog inhale the vapor for up to 10 minutes, and you'll notice his congestion begin to break up. If it seem that your dog's congestion is worsening, his coughing increasing or his appetite decreasing, call your veterinarian right away.