Seasonal Flu Facts: Can My Dog Catch My Cold or Flu?

It's totally natural to want to cuddle with our dogs when we're sick, but then there's the thought, "Can I get my dog sick?"

Published December 19, 2023
dog depressed under yellow winter blanket

When you’re feeling crummy, there’s nothing better than curling up in bed with your canine companion. But then the thought occurs to you, “Wait, can my dog catch my flu or cold?” The good news is no, you can’t get your dog sick if you have the sniffles. However, there is a deadly respiratory illness in dogs and other canine-specific flus and cold viruses that can give your dog similar symptoms. 

Quick Tip

Puppies showing any signs of dog flu or colds should be seen by a veterinarian right away.

Can Dogs Get the Flu?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that seasonal flu can infect cats and a few other types of animals, but it’s not found in dogs. That means you don’t have to worry about isolating yourself from your dog while you recover from the flu. But there is a canine influenza that’s highly contagious from dog to dog.

Dog Flu vs. Human Flu

Canine influenza, more commonly called dog flu, is a virus that’s only spread between dogs, but it’s extremely quick and easy to spread. The most common symptom is a cough, but about 20% of dogs with influenza show absolutely no signs.

If you’re wondering whether you can catch this flu from your dog, the chances are slim to none. The CDC reports “No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported.” However, if you do have a dog with dog flu in your household, you’ll definitely want to isolate them from any other dogs.

Can Dogs Get Colds?

Bulldog with flu

Even though dogs can’t become infected with a human cold, there are a few cold-like illnesses that have similar symptoms.

Canine Influenza

Symptoms can include coughing, runny nose, watery eyes, low energy, low appetite, and fever. 

Canine Distemper Virus

Symptoms can include runny nose, watery eyes, low energy, low appetite, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle twitches, incoordination, and seizures. 

Kennel Cough

Symptoms can include honking cough, gagging, runny nose, watery eyes, low energy, low appetite, and fever.

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease

Symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, low energy, low appetite, and fever.

These dog flu and cold illnesses are spread through direct contact, like licking and nuzzling, contact with contaminated surfaces, or via respiratory droplets in the air through coughing or sneezing. Any dogs with these symptoms should be isolated from other dogs in the household to prevent transmission.

Fast Fact

It is possible for humans to pass COVID-19 to dogs, but the risk of a pet giving you COVID-19 is low.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Humans?

It’s unlikely that you’ll pass your sickness on to your dog, so go ahead and cuddle on them while you recover from your cold or flu. However, if you’re sick with COVID-19, it’s best to isolate yourself from your canine buddy until you’re well again. And if your dog does come down with the sniffles or gets a cough, one of the infectious dog viruses might be to blame. Have them examined by your veterinarian for guidance and a treatment plan to get them well again.

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Seasonal Flu Facts: Can My Dog Catch My Cold or Flu?