• Pets are more likely to catch infection when they are in closed environment
  • Owners can transfer infections to their pets if they have been in contact with an infected animal
  • When dogs or cats contract a cold, they exhibit symptoms similar to people

Winter has come and how. With it, the season also brought cold and flu. Often ignored, the pets are not completely immune to these seasonal changes. An animal expert shared ways to protect pets this winter.

Similar to humans, pets are also highly likely to catch infection when they are in a closed environment with other members of their species.

"Dogs often pick up illnesses after staying in kennels, attending indoor training classes, or at competitive events where they're in close contact with other dogs. Infections can quickly spread via airborne particles, by sharing drinking water, or from contaminated surfaces," Jacqueline Boyd, Senior Lecturer in Animal Science at Nottingham Trent University, said, as per Inverse.

At the same time, pet owners might, unknowingly, transfer infections to their pets if they have previously been in contact with an infected animal.

"Washing your hands, changing your clothes, and good hygiene remains simple but effective ways of limiting the spread of many infections, especially if you're regularly in contact with several animals," Boyd noted.

On a side note, if a person has a cold, he is unlikely to pass it on to his pets and vice versa. In the same vein, flu generally tends to be species-specific, though there are "theoretical risks of flu transmission between animals and humans."

There are some general ways to ensure that pets stay healthy and remain less prone to falling sick.

"First, keep their vaccinations up to date and ask your vet if there are any local diseases that may be of concern. While vaccinations won't prevent everything, they will help support your pet's health and reduce the risk of severe illness," Boyd said.

"Keeping pets lean and at a healthy weight, feeding them a balanced diet, and making sure they always have clean drinking water are also simple, effective measures of supporting pet health. Keeping their sleeping area and food and water bowls clean can also reduce disease risk further," the expert added.

When dogs or cats contract a cold, they exhibit symptoms similar to people-sneezing, runny nose, coughing, possibly fever, tiredness, and often reduced or lost appetite.

"If you think your pet is sick, it's best to speak to your vet first to ensure you get the correct diagnosis. Your pet may also need specific treatment (such as antibiotics). Never be tempted to treat your pet with human medications, however. Over-the-counter medications that are safe for us can be potentially toxic for our pets. Ibuprofen, for example, is dangerous for dogs," she further advised.

As per the animal expert, there are some simple steps one can take to take care of sick pets. First and foremost, pet owners should ensure that their pets are warm and comfortable. To this end, they can provide extra bedding or pet-safe clothing for them.

"Many older dogs benefit from coats both indoors and out to keep old joints warm. Just make sure to wash or change their bedding regularly to keep a pleasant environment for them to recover in. This will also help reduce the risk of the infection spreading to other pets in the household," Boyd said.

Also, ensure that pets are well-rested and cut down on their exercises for a while, especially if they have a respiratory infection. Moreover, fresh and clean water should be available to them at all times. Pet parents can serve warm water to the animals to combat cold weather.

Dog, animal, pet, park,
Representative image of a dog. Couleur/Pixabay