How to Treat Colds and Flus in Dogs

How to Treat Colds and Flus in Dogs
February 25, 2014 by Dr Loridawn Gordon

Just like humans, dogs suffer with their own versions of the flu and the common cold. Although animals housed in shelters, kennels, and other crowded environments are more likely to come down with a viral infection, you should still be aware of the symptoms associated with these conditions so you can take action quickly. A simple respiratory infection can develop into a much more serious condition, such as pneumonia, and may become fatal.

Flu and Cold Symptoms in Dogs

When it comes to canine influenza, symptoms might be mild and include a usually moist cough (although a dry cough is also possible) and nasal discharge. The severe version of the flu, however, causes high fever, trouble breathing, coughing up of blood, and pneumonia. Other general symptoms to look out for include anorexia, red or watery eyes, sneezing, and malaise.

Conventional Flu Treatments for Dogs

If a mild infection is present, your vet may prescribe cough suppressants while encouraging plenty of rest until the virus runs its course. If your vet suspects there's a secondary bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed as well. On the other hand, if a severe infection is present, hospitalization may be required, as the animal will need strong antibiotics and fluids, along with other supportive therapies to improve the chances of recovery.

Natural Remedies for Dog Cold and Flu

Supporting your dog's immune system with natural therapies is a great way to keep the body strong until the animal is able to get rid of the virus.

Herbal remedies include echinacea, a herb known for stimulating the immune system. It works better when combined with the herb goldenseal. Holistic vets also like to prescribe osha root, as well as homeopathic remedies like Aconitum, Arsenicum album, and Gelsemium to help the body fight off infections. Eucalyptus can also be used to reduce inflammation of the respiratory tract, which is common in canine colds and flu. When using any natural remedy for your pet, make sure you consult a holistic vet before administering a herb yourself.

How to Treat the Cold and Flu in Dogs

Preventing exposure to other sick animals and keeping a pet's environment clean is extremely important. While there are some vaccinations available for canine and feline viruses, not all of them are effective and some can lead to serious side effects.

Keeping your dog's immune system strong with the right diet is key in reducing the risk of him contracting an infectious illness. Providing your dog with a species-appropriate diet containing no grains and only the highest quality animal proteins is the first step. Supplementing the diet with the right nutrients is a second step that will help build up the immune system and help keep infections at bay. I recommend starting a pet off with an appropriate multi-vitamin/mineral, with additional doses of Vitamins C and E for antioxidant support.

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