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Fever in Dogs

Fever in Dogs

How do you tell when your dog has a fever, and why would this happen? In this post, our Farmington Hills vets list the signs of fever in dogs, what's considered a normal temperature and high fever, how to reduce fever in dogs and when to see the vet.

What is a dog fever?

A dog's normal body temperature is significantly higher than a person's. For our pups, anywhere between 101 to 102.5° F is normal, while our normal range is 97.6 to 99.6° F. 

If your pooch's temperature is over 103° F would be deemed a dog fever. Serious and fatal complications can happen if your dog's temperature reaches 106° F. 

How can I tell if my dog has a fever and how do I take its temperature?

Detecting fevers in dogs can be a challenge since their body temperatures will also rise if they are very stressed or excited. A dog's temperature can also fluctuate during the day and potentially even at night. Therefore, understanding your dog's healthy average temperature is essential. You can identify this by taking your dog's temperature av various times throughout the day, over several days. 

Some people think that if you feel your dog's nose and it's cold and wet, your pooch's temperature is fine, but if it is dry and hot it means your pup has a fever. But this will not give you an accurate result to find out whether your dog as a fever. 

Using a digital thermometer designed for rectal use is the best way to check your dog's temperature. You can find these specially designed thermometers for pets in some pet stores. We recommend that you keep a separate thermometer exclusively for your dog and store it with your dog's supplies. 

Begin by lubricating the thermometer's tip with a water-soluble lubricant or petroleum. Lift your dog's tail up and to the side before inserting the thermometer carefully about 1 inch into your dog's rectum. You might have a second person help you if possible, by holding under your dog's hind legs to keep them from sitting. Once the temperature has registered on the thermometer, you can carefully remove it. 

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 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 dogs 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 
  • Shivering
  • Panting 
  • Runny nose 
  • Decreased energy 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing 
  • Vomiting

How should I care for a dog with a fever? 

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, 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 dogs ears and paws, and run 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.

Does your dog have a fever? Your vet can assess your pet and take appropriate actions to diagnose and treat the problem. Contact Angel Animal Hospital. We have vets trained to provide care in veterinary emergencies. 

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