Do French Bulldogs Catch Colds?


do french bulldogs catch colds

Cold are one of the more common illnesses us humans pick up, particularly during the winter season. Most of us will be able to shake off a cold, but what our beloved Frenchies? Can French Bulldogs get colds too? I decided to find out.

Do French Bulldogs catch colds? Frenchies can get colds and are more susceptible to cold and flu symptoms. This is due to their flatter faces, meaning mucus gets trapped in their smaller than average head cavities. Colds can progress onto more serious illnesses such as pneumonia versus dogs with longer noses and wider throats.

Whilst dogs can get “colds”, they are not the same cold viruses as the ones that humans get. Dogs get infections that cause cold-like symptoms – this can include a runny nose, sneezing, and blocked nasal passages.

Being a brachycephalic breed, Frenchies are more at risk of getting these cold-like symptoms. What we would consider a cold in your French Bulldog is not one particular virus, but instead could be one of many, all of which exbibit cold symptoms.

Some of these illnesses can be more serious than others, so it’s key to try and understand whether your French Bulldog does have a cold, and what’s causing it.

frenchie in the snow
Frenchies can get colds, but they aren’t the same as human ones.

French Bulldog cold symptoms

Be aware of what could constitute a cold in your Frenchie. If not diagnosed and treated quickly, it could possibly lead to more serious issues including dehydration, hypothermia, or even pneumonia.

French Bulldogs can get colds; here’s what the signs can look like:

  • Runny nose and nasal discharge.
  • Runny or watery eyes.
  • Sneezing.
  • Wheezing or wet-sounding cough.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Shivering.
  • Warm ears.
  • Trouble breathing normally.
  • General lethargy.

Handy Hint: The symptoms of a cold are very similar to a fever. You can find out more about French Bulldogs and fevers here. It also includes advice on how to take your dog’s temperature. 

What the cold symptoms could mean

French Bulldogs can catch a cold, or at least, what appears to be a cold. The symptoms could be the result of various conditions including:

  • Bronchitis.
  • Canine distemper.
  • Cold virus.
  • Influenza virus.
  • Kennel cough.
  • Parainfluenza virus.

Does my French Bulldog have a cold?

Don’t take any chances.

It’s possible that your Frenchie could have caught nothing more than a dog cold, but it could be one of the more serious illnesses on this list.

You should always call a vet for advice, particularly if these cold and flu symptoms are combined with other signs such as sickness, appetite, and behavioral changes.

Can your Frenchie catch a cold from you?

It’s very rare for an illness such as a cold to jump from a human being to a dog and vice versa. That’s not to say it’s not possible, but inter-species cold and flu transmission is very unlikely.

According to the Telegraph in press report from 2017, reverse zoonoses rarely happen:

“Reverse zoonoses are rare, but they do occur. A recent academic literature review found 56 articles (from 56 countries over three decades) which documented human-to-animal transmission of disease.”

If you are feeling under the weather with a cold or flu and want a cuddle from your Frenchie, just go for it. It’s unlikely that you will make them ill, so take advantage of the therapeutic properties of snuggling with your dog.

does my french bulldog have a cold
If your French Bulldog has a cold then get them all warm and cosy with a cuddle.

How to treat your French Bulldog’s cold or flu

As far as I am concerned, the only person who should be treating a French Bulldog that has caught a serious cold is a professional vet. You will find some blogs online that talk about using specialist dog nebulizers – I am not qualified to start giving advice like that so please do your own research.

In most cases a little bit of a mild cold isn’t a huge issue. It should clear up by itself. But you should call your vet anyway if you believe your Frenchie has a cold – that will let them rule out anything more serious.

Vets can perform a number of checks and tests which include listening to the chest and lungs. If they suspect there is a serious illness, they may progress onto checks with x-rays, blood tests, and so on.

If your French Bulldog’s cold symptoms are a more serious condition such as kennel cough, vets will prescribe rest and recuperation, antibiotics, fluids, and possible cough medicine.

What you can do to help Frenchie cold symptoms

If you think your French Bulldog has caught a mild cold, you can help them out just like you would a kid with cold symptoms. Here are some pointers:

  • Make sure your Frenchie is warm, cosy, and dry.
  • Don’t take them outdoors into cold weather.
  • Limit their physical activity to preserve their energy.
  • Provide plenty of water to keep them hydrated.
  • Soothe a chapped nose with a dog nose balm (view on Amazon).
  • Feed them easy to digest brown rice and boiled chicken.

What you should never do!

Don’t give human painkillers and cold medication to your Frenchie. It could cause a harmful or even fatal reaction. Here’s what a UK vet website says:

“Unfortunately, it is common for people to make an assumption that a medication which is safe for people will also be safe for pets. As a result, a number of animals are poisoned every year when their owners attempt to give them treatment for pain without consulting their vet. Dogs and cats are also often exposed to human painkillers accidentally.”

How to prevent your Frenchie catching a cold

There is no vaccine for canine colds; just like humans it’s impossible to completely eliminate the chance of getting a cold. However, you can have your dog vaccinated against some of the more serious ailments such as canine flu, canine distemper, and kennel cough.

Things you can do at home to stop your French Bulldog getting a cold include:

  • Keep them warm and cosy at night during cold weather.
  • Keep them away from other dogs if you hear of any cold viruses doing the rounds.
  • Keep your Frenchie’s vaccinations up to date.
  • Keep their food bowls, water bowls, and toys clean if shared with other dogs.
  • Keep their water bowl topped up and change the water every 24 hours.
  • Keep your Frenchie rested with enough sleep – here’s how much they should get.
  • Keep them fed with good quality food and plenty of nutritional value.
  • Keep them out of very cold weather – see how cold is too cold below.
how cold is too cold
The numbers in this infographic are based on research I found courtesy of the Tufts Animal Care and Conditions scale. If you would like to use it on your own website, then please do – but just link back to FrenchBulldogOwner.com as way of credit.

Handy Hint: Please read my guide which explains how you can keep your dog warm and dry at night which will help hugely with cold symptoms.

Conclusion

Whilst French Bulldogs can’t catch colds like humans do, they can exhibit very similar symptoms which can be caught from other dogs.

In most cases, the cold they catch will clear, but always exercise caution with professional veterinary advice.

You might also like…

I’ve written more guides which give basic explainers of what your Frenchie could be suffering with. Check those out below.

Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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