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Can Your Pets Catch Your Cold?

I recently went through a spell where I did not post anything for about 6 days or so and you may be wondering what had happened? I was sick with one of the worst colds I have had in a long time. Usually when I get a common cold, it’s not bad at all and does not last long either. This one, however, knocked me on my butt. To this day I still am trying to fully recover from it. I still have a nagging cough and am trying to get rid of all the phlem in there. Sorry for the gross description.

This brings me to an issue that I am sure many pet owners have thought about. Can your pet catch your cold or flu? Well, the simple answer is NO. The viruses that cause the common cold are species-specific, meaning that the human cold and flu viruses are specific for humans, cat cold viruses are specific to cats, dog cold viruses are for dogs, etc. Yes, your cat and dog can get colds, but they are specific to their species. And, along the same lines, you cannot catch a cold from your dog or cat. See the following resources.

http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/browse_by_diseases.htm browse by disease
http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/animals/cats.htm browse by species

Now, for proof that your pets cannot catch your cold, see these resources.

I just had my dog in to the vet for his annual check-up, and I asked my vet for confirmation. She indeed confirmed that the cold and flu viruses are species-specific, and that your pet should not be able to catch your cold or flu. I doing research for this article, I came across many posts that claimed that their pets did in fact catch their owner’s flu, but I just don’t believe it. What do you think?

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • K9comfections April 5, 2009, 2:01 am

    Wonderful insightful Blog
    Ill feel more confident snuggling with Dutchess during my next cold!

  • Rick Delgado April 5, 2009, 4:35 am

    Snuggling up with your pets when you are sick is very comforting. Our pets can help us psycologically when we are down and out. Just one of the reasons we all have pets.

  • Vern November 12, 2009, 5:59 pm

    In reply to can your pets catch your cold? I worked for several years in one of the major influenza research labs in the UK. I saw human influenza viruses being used in animal models. Hamsters and mice can catch the virus but do not develop the same severe symptoms as humans. However, if you have a pet ferret beware, they can catch influenza and develop chronic respiratory disease, coughing and all the rest of the symptoms that go with the flu. I know because I had to help take the temperatures of these animals…. not the easiest of things to do with a glass thermometer and lubricant. Watch out for the sharp end while doing this!I hope this helps answering the influenza part of the question. Not so sure about the common cold virus infections.

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