Atchoo! My pet’s caught a cold!

Runny noses, rasping throats and weakened defences during the winter months get to cats, dogs and the like just as they do their young masters and mistresses. Animal experts from Maxi Zoo explain how pets catch cold and what to do about it.

Our pets can also suffer from cold, damp weather, cold floors, draughts or dry inside air which is low in oxygen. The best way to prevent this after walking your dog or when the cat returns from its outdoor travels is to give their sodden coats a thorough rub dry. Refresh the room air several times a day. But be careful that bird, rodent or small animal cages aren’t standing directly in the draught, cover them if necessary. The floors at home are often cold in the winter as the warm air tends to drift upwards. Cats will find a warm, raised place by themselves. You should put down a thick blanket for dogs. Guinea pigs, too, can easily become chilled on the floor, so it’s better to position their cage somewhat higher up. Bear in mind: the smaller the animal, the more it will suffer as a result of catching a cold.

It is in fact rare that a cold is passed from a human to an animal or vice versa but it’s not impossible. So you should avoid intimate cuddling contact with your favourite if you have a cold or if your pet is coughing or sneezing because viruses can spread easily via the mucus membranes or excretions. Signs that your pet has caught a cold are: discharge from the nose, coughing, sneezing, snoring sound when breathing, watery eyes. Under no circumstances should you give your pet influenza medicines or pain killers which are intended for humans! Aspirin, for example, can be deadly for cats. Even natural and homespun remedies can do your pet more harm than good. It’s much better to get professional advice from your vet who can prescribe the correct medicine. Although with cats and dogs most colds run their course harmlessly, caution is advisable with worse symptoms such as fever, apathy and loss of appetite – so visit your vet immediately! Just as with humans, if influenza remains untreated it can lead to chronic heart or lung conditions.

What is cat ‘flu?

Many cat lovers have already heard of the dangerous infection called cat ‘flu which has nothing to do with a normal cold. What starts as cold symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, and fever can develop into a serious illness which can result in chronic complaints and also, among other things, death. The infectious sickness is transmitted from one cat to another – even humans can trail the virus into the house on their shoes or clothing. The calici and herpes viruses are the main pathogens of this disease. If they are not treated, the eyes and nose can become glued shut and turn septic, breathing becomes difficult, bronchitis and pneumonia follow. Vaccination is the best protection against widespread cat ‘flu. Cats which have already fallen ill with this disease can only be helped by a visit to the vet and treatment with antibiotics.

Call into your local store today to discuss your cat’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts