It can be difficult to know for sure if your dog has a fever. In today's blog, our Weldon Spring vets explain how to detect a fever in dogs, as well as symptoms of fever in dogs, its causes, and what you should do if your pooch has a fever.
What is a normal body temperature for 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.
How can I take my dog's temperature?
Detecting fevers in dogs can be challenging because their body temperatures can increase when they are very excited or stressed. Also, a dog’s temperature can vary throughout the day and sometimes at night. Therefore, it is important to understand your dog’s healthy temperature. You can determine this by noting your dog's temperature at various times of the day, for several days.
Many people believe that if you feel your dog’s nose and if it’s wet and cold your dog’s temperature is fine, and if it is hot and dry it means a fever. However, this is not an accurate indicator that your dog has a fever.
The most accurate way to check your dog’s temperature is to use a digital thermometer for rectal use, some pet stores carry thermometers made just for pets. It is recommended that you keep a separate thermometer just for your dog and store it 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.
What are the most common causes of fever in dogs?
Countless conditions 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.
What are the signs that my 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 take note of 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 can I help to reduce the fever in my dog?
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 F or more, you can help to cool your dog’s body temperature by applying cool water with a soaked towel or cloth to your dog's ears and paws and running a fan near your dog. Stop applying the water when your dog’s temperature drops below 103 F. Continue to monitor your dog closely to ensure that the fever doesn’t return.
Try to coax your dog to drink small amounts of water 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.