It can be difficult to tell if your dog has a fever. Today, our Charlotte veterinarians explain how to detect a fever in dogs, what may be causing your dog's fever, associated symptoms, and what to do.
Normal Temperature VS Fever in Dogs
A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than yours or mine. (Human body temperature ranges from 97.6 to 99.6 F).
Your dog has a fever if his or her temperature rises above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog's temperature rises above 106 degrees Fahrenheit, he or she has a severe fever and is at risk of serious, potentially fatal complications.
Taking Your Dog's Temperature
Fever detection in dogs can be difficult because their body temperatures can rise when they are overly excited or stressed. A dog's temperature can also change throughout the day and sometimes at night. As a result, it is critical to understand your dog's healthy temperature. You can find out by taking your dog's temperature at different times of the day for several days.
Many people believe that if you feel your dog's nose, it should be wet and cold, and if it is hot and dry, your dog has a fever. This, however, is not a reliable indicator that your dog has a fever.
A digital thermometer for rectal use is the most accurate way to check your dog's temperature; some pet stores sell thermometers designed specifically for pets. It is recommended that you keep a separate thermometer for your dog and keep it in the same location where you keep your dog's supplies.
Begin by lubricating the thermometer's tip with petroleum or a water-soluble lubricant. Then, carefully lift your dog's tail to the side and insert the thermometer about 1 inch into your dog's rectum. To prevent your dog from sitting, have a second person assist you by holding it under the dog's hind legs. After the thermometer has registered the temperature, carefully remove it.
Causes of Fever in Dogs
There are countless conditions that could cause your dog to develop a fever. Some of the most common include:
- A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
- An ear infection
- An infected bite, scratch, or cut
- Tooth infection or abscess
- Urinary tract infection
- Ingestion of poisonous materials, such as toxic plants, human medications, or human foods that are toxic to dogs
In some cases, the cause of a dog's fever cannot be determined; this is known as a fever of unknown origin (FUO). A fever in these cases could be caused by underlying immune system disorders, bone marrow problems, or cancer.
Signs That Your Dog May Have a Fever
If you notice a significant change in your dog's behavior, this is your first indication that he is ill. You should keep a close eye on your dog and record any symptoms. Any combination of the following symptoms should prompt you to check your dog's temperature.
The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs are:
- Red or glassy-looking eyes
- Warm ears and/or nose
- Runny nose
- Decreased energy
- Loss of appetite
How to Reduce Fever in Dogs
If your dog’s fever is 106 F or higher they need to see a vet immediately. Contact the emergency veterinarian nearest you right away.
If your dog has a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you can help to cool his body temperature by applying cool water with a soaked towel or cloth to his ears and paws and running a fan near him. When your dog's temperature falls below 103 degrees Fahrenheit, stop using the water. Continue to keep an eye on your dog to ensure that the fever does not return.
Try to coax your dog to drink small amounts of water in order to keep them hydrated, but don’t force your dog to drink.
It is important to never give your dog human medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medications can be poisonous to your dog and cause serious injury or death.
If your dog exhibits any other symptoms, such as shivering, panting, and vomiting you should consider taking your dog to the vet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.