Is a Kitty's Cold Contagious to Dogs?

A sick kitty may infect your dogs too.
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When Mr. Long-Whiskers sneezes, you may not think much of it. But when he sneezes again and again and a distinct ooze starts dripping from his nose, you come to the sinking realization that your cat is sick. Will your dogs succumb to the evil illness next?

Cats Only Please

In the human world, when one person in a household is sick, there's a good chance that everyone else will come down with the same thing. This doesn't necessarily ring true for your furry family members, as viruses are basically species specific. Any cold virus that your cat is unfortunate enough to fall victim to, such as the feline herpes or calici strains, cannot infect his canine companions and vice versa. Cat viruses make cats sick, and dog viruses make dogs sick. They don't species hop.

Equal Opportunity Infectors

Sometimes a cold is not just a cold. That lovely ooze flowing from your cat's nose or eyes could indicate an upper respiratory infection, which can result from a viral or bacterial invasion. While viruses don't cross species lines, bacteria have no such issues. Bordatella, Pasteurella and Chlamydia are all bacteria that have no problems jumping from feline to canine hosts, and making both miserable.

Misery Loves Company

The symptoms associated with colds and illnesses are designed to achieve maximum spreading of the infection by literally spraying the area with airborne germs. If your cat's hacking and sneezing and oozing is caused by a bacterial infection, any dogs in the household are vulnerable to catching the same illness. Shared water and food bowls are prime locations for cross contamination, as well as social grooming and close proximity during sneeze attacks.

The Road to Recovery

As miserable as your pets feel during their colds, the good news is that in most cases the illness is usually fairly short-lived. Viral infections usually run their course in about two weeks or so, while bacterial infections typically require antibiotics to knock the nasties out. Unfortunately since the symptoms all present very similarly, you won't really know which is making your cat sick without a vet visit. Unless you don't mind a house full of hacking, sneezing animals, you may want to take Mr. Long-Whiskers to the vet for a quick checkup and a few tests at the first sign of an illness.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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