Detecting a fever in dogs can be challenging. Our veterinarians at Clearlake are sharing valuable information on identifying fever in dogs, its causes, symptoms, and essential tips for taking care of your furry friend.
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 immune system disorders, cancer or bone marrow problems.
What are the symptoms of a fever in dogs?
If you observe a notable shift in your dog's demeanor, it could indicate that your dog is unwell. It is recommended to closely monitor your dog's behavior and take note of any symptoms they exhibit. If your dog exhibits any combination of the following symptoms, it is advisable to check their temperature as it could be a sign of a high fever:
The most frequently observed symptoms of a high fever in dogs include:
- 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 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.