The common cold isn’t just for people: dogs can get colds, too!
If your dog is coughing and sniffling, you should of course take them to the vet to rule out more serious illnesses. But for a mild cough or a case of the sniffles, there are plenty of at-home treatments to help.
Steam it up
Have you ever used a humidifier to treat your own winter cold? Steam opens up bronchial passages and keeps them nice and moist—and it works for dogs, too.
Steam up the bathroom by running a hot shower with the door closed for a few minutes. Then, join your pup in the bathroom for a 10-15 steam break. Or, just bring them into the bathroom with you when you shower.
You can also use a humidifier to create steam near your dog’s favorite snoozing spot. For an extra cold-soothing boost, add a small amount of dog-safe essential oil (see below for more info).
Aromatherapy for dogs
Certain botanicals have soothing properties, and when used properly, can effectively ease cold symptoms in dogs. However, full-strength essential oils may be overpowering or even dangerous to pets. Consult your veterinarian before introducing essential oils to your dog’s care routine, and always use diluted products.
Here are some of the most popular essential oils used to treat colds in dogs:
- Eucalyptus oil has antiseptic properties and may ease congestion
- Peppermint oil eases congestion and invigorates
- Lavender oil soothes and calms
Remember, a little bit of aromatherapy goes a long way. Even while congested, your dog has a powerful nose! We recommend using pet-safe products like this deodorizing spray, which contains eucalyptus and peppermint oils that have been diluted to safe levels for your dog.
Click here for more detailed info on aromatherapy and dogs.
Herbs & honey
Some herbs are thought to relieve dog cold symptoms. These include elderflower and kali bichromicum. You can find homeopathic decongestants online, and Amazon reviewers rave about Homeopet Nose Relief. However, you should always check with your vet before giving your dog a new supplement or herbal treatment.
Honey is also believed to soothe canine coughs and colds; the AKC has a good overview of the current recommendations around honey for dogs. Due to the high sugar content, honey is not right for diabetic or obese dogs. But you can give an adult dog a teaspoon of honey with their meals, and it may soothe their stuffy nose and cough. You can even find honey specifically produced for dogs; K9 Honey is a family-owned company offering raw honey for dog wellness.
Chicken soup (and other fluids)
Yup, grandma’s cure-all has benefits for dogs, too. Dogs shouldn’t eat soup made for humans, which is high in sodium and often contains dog-unfriendly ingredients like onions. But low-sodium broth, purchased at the store or made yourself, is perfectly safe for dogs.
Broth has one other curative quality for dogs: it makes food smell and taste better! When your dog has a stuffy nose, she can’t smell her food, and may lose her appetite. Make your dog’s meal more appealing, and more hydrating, by adding some broth.
In addition, make sure your dog drinks plenty of water while they’re sick. Hydration is key to curing the doggy cold!
Good old-fashioned rest
Help your dog get better faster by making sure they get plenty of rest. Limit activity while your dog recovers from a cold, and provide a warm, dry place for them to sleep.
Pet-safe heating pads or heated beds offer a comfy place to snooze, and the heat can help loosen congestion. You can also run a blanket or towel through the dryer for a warming wrap, or snuggle with your pet under the covers for a bit.
You can help relieve your dog’s cold and cough symptoms with topical treatments, nourishing food, and veterinary care. But often, a cold or cough simply needs to run its course. Try some of the natural cold-soothers mentioned here, and don’t hesitate to go to the vet if your dog’s symptoms worsen.