It can be difficult to detect fever in dogs. In this post, our Orlando vets describe how to detect fever in dogs, along with causes, symptoms, and what to keep in mind when caring for your pet.
Normal Temperature for a Dog
A dog's normal body temperature can range from 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit - significantly higher than humans whose body temperature ranges from 97.6° to 99.6° F.
If your pup's temperature reaches higher than 103° F, this is considered a dog fever. High fever in dogs - temperatures that reach 106° F and higher - can lead to serious and fatal complications.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Has A Fever And How Do I Take Its Temperature?
Since a dog's body temperature can also increase when they are stressed or very excited, it can be challenging to detect fevers in dogs. In addition, a dog's temperature may vary throughout the day and sometimes at night.
This is why it's important to understand your dog's healthy temperature range. You can determine this by noting your dog's temperature at various times throughout the day, for several days.
While some people think that if you feel your dog's nose and it's cold and wet that your dog's temperature is fine, and if it is hot and dry it means a fever, this is not an accurate indicator of whether your dog has a fever.
The best way to get an accurate reading of your dog's temperature is to use a digital thermometer for rectal use. Some pet stores carry thermometers made just for pets. We recommend keeping a separate thermometer just for your dog and keeping it where you keep your dog's other supplies.
Begin by using petroleum or water-soluble lubricant to lubricate the tip of the thermometer before lifting your dog's tail up and to the side. Then, carefully insert the thermometer about one inch into your dog's rectum. If possible, have a second person help you by holding under the dog's hind legs to keep your dog from sitting. Once the thermometer's temperature has registered, carefully remove the thermometer.
Why Would A Dog Have A Fever?
A variety of illnesses and conditions may cause a fever in your dog. These 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, a dog’s fever cannot be readily determined, this is often referred to as a fever of unknown origin or FUO. In these cases, a fever could be caused by underlying disorders of the immune system, bone marrow problems, or cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Fever In Dogs?
If you notice a significant change in your dog’s behavior this will be your first sign that your dog is not well. You should keep a careful eye on your dog and take note of your dog's symptoms. Any combination of the following symptoms is a good indication that you should 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 Should I Care For A Dog With A Fever?
Many a pet owner has frantically typed, 'How to reduce fever in dogs' into their favorite search engine. If your dog’s fever is 106° F or higher immediately take your dog to a local veterinary emergency clinic.
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 stay 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.