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If your dog is coughing or sneezing, but is in otherwise good health, you may be able to treat the condition as you would a simple human cold — with lots of liquids, healthy foods (Chicken soup, even? But of course! Just make sure to leave out the bones.), warmth, and maybe even some time in a warm and humid room. This can be done by placing a humidifier near his rest area or by filling the bathtub with steaming water and letting the dog hang out in the bathroom for a bit (not in the water), just to let the steam loosen up his sinuses and lungs.
It is important to note that while most respiratory conditions will begin to improve within several days from the time of onset, some dogs’ immune systems are not as prepared for an infection and may need a course of antibiotics or other medications in order to fully recover.
If your dog is either very young or very old, it is best to have her looked over by your veterinarian, since dogs at either end of the age scale tend to have less capable immune systems and can suffer more as a result.
You can help to prevent a cold by keeping her indoors during cold, wet weather, with just brief trips outside for relief. It isn’t the cold temperature that creates the illness, of course, but over exposure to unfriendly temperatures or environments can create a physical situation that makes it easier for a bacterial or viral germ to latch on and take hold in the body. And making sure the physical body is at its healthiest is the main preventative for a host of diseases, not just the cold. Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water — even if there is water still in the bowl, make sure to change it out at least once a day, ideally with a clean bowl every day — and healthy foods so that your dog’s immune system can keep up with whatever germs come his way, and so that he has the strength to exercise at a level that is normal for his age and breed. If your dog is of a breed that typically has respiratory challenges, your veterinarian may suggest keeping a humidifier in your dog’s rest area as a matter of course.
Finally, it can be challenging enough to have one pet who is as "sick as a dog," you certainly don’t want a house-full of them. While your dog is ill, make sure she is separated from the other dogs in the house so that the infection is not passed along, and if symptoms don’t improve or appear to worsen, consult with your veterinarian.
Image source: tanakawho / via Flickr
The windpipe; it carries air from the bronchi to the mouth
Any micro organism with pathogenic capabilities, like a bacteria or virus
An allergic disorder that results in difficulty breathing.