During cold and flu season many of us suffer through the congestion, sneezing, aches and pains associated with it. But, do our pets get colds?
Well first off, I would define a cold as a general term used to describe a respiratory infection of the upper airway (nasal sinuses, throat) and lower airway (lungs and air passages lead to the lungs). This infection is usually caused by either a virus or bacteria or in some cases both. These virus and bacteria live in the environment and can survive on objects for hours or days. By touching those object and then wiping our face, nose or eyes we can then become exposed and illness results.
The same is true for our pets. If they are in an environment where other animals are sick then they can become exposed to a virus or bacteria and can become ill as well. This is especially common in animal shelters. These pets come in from all over. They are under stress and possibly malnourished which weakens their immune system. It's like kids in a school. If someone is sick and coughing and sneezing then exposure to others is likely to happen.
When a virus or bacteria enters the body it begins to multiply. At some point our body will realize something is happening and the immune system begins to kick in and starts fighting back. This results in the fever, congestion, cough, sneezing and nasal discharge we and our pets can experience. These are actually signs our body is working to rid the illness from within. A fever for example raises the body temperature to a level which makes an unfriendly environment for bacteria and viruses to survive. A lower grade fever is not actually a bad thing during this time. A high fever (over 104) in dogs and cats may indicate a worsening condition which may require medical care.
Mild upper respiratory infections (URI) in cats and kennel cough in dogs will resolve on their own in a few days to a week. Loss of appetite, drinking less, increased nasal or eye discharge, lethargy are signs that should be checked by your veterinarian. A conversation with your vet and the physical exam can help determine if medications are needed or if time will remedy the situation.
Just as with people, the risk of illness is directly related to exposure. If you work in a large office building with a lot of people you are at greater risk. For our pets their increased risk comes from other pets at dog parks, pet boarding and being around other pets even when walking in the neighborhood.
Wash your hands well after being around other pets. Leave your shoes outside so you do not carry bacteria or viruses into the house. Consider having a pet sitter come to your home to avoid the stress our pets may experience in a boarding facility. Finally, just love them every day. Sick or healthy this is advice we should all practice more. Take care.
To learn more about Dr. Buckley, and to get prescription medication for your dog with 100% of profits donated back to animal rescue, visit Pet Rescue Rx.