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Fever in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Care

Fever in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Care

It can be difficult to detect a fever in dogs. Today, our Mamaroneck vets describe how to detect fever in dogs, the causes, symptoms and what you should know when taking care of your pet. 

What is a normal temperature for a dog?

The normal temperature range for a dog’s body is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than humans. Our body temperature ranges from 97.6 to 99.6 F.

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

Because a dog’s body temperature can also increase when they are very stressed or excited, it can be difficult to detect fever in dogs. In addition, a dog’s temperature may vary throughout the day and at times, at night. Therefore, it’s imperative to understand your dog’s healthy temperature.

You can determine this by monitoring your dog’s temperature at various times of the day, for several days. Some people believe that if you touch your dog’s nose and it’s wet and cold, your dog’s temperature is fine. But, if it’s hot and dry, it means your dog has a fever.

However, this does not accurately indicate that your dog has a fever. Instead, to check your dog’s temperature you should use e digital thermometer designed for rectal use. Some pet stores sell thermometers made just for pets. We recommend keeping a separate thermometer dedicated to use on your dog, and store it in the same spot your dog’s supplies are kept.

Begin by using petroleum or water-soluble lubricant to coat the tip of the thermometer, then lift your dog’s tail up and to the side. Carefully insert the thermometer about one inch into your dog’s rectum. If possible, have someone help you by holding under the dog’s hind legs to keep your dog from sitting.

Once the thermometer temperature has registered, carefully remove the thermometer.

Why would a dog have a fever?

Numerous conditions and illnesses can cause a fever in your dog. These include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Ingestion of poisonous materials such as toxic plants, human foods or human medications that are toxic to dogs
  • An ear infection

A fungal, viral or bacterial infection Tooth infection or abscess An infected cut, bite or scratch In some cases, the cause of a dog’s fever cannot be readily identified. This is often referred to as a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. In these circumstances, a fever may be caused by underlying disorders of the immune system, cancer or bone marrow problems.

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 high 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 to Reduce Fever in Dogs

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 dog's 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? Our vets at Miller Clark Animal Hospital are here for your pet during your regular hours in case of a veterinary emergency. Contact us today. 

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