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Fever in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Care

Fever in dogs can be difficult to detect. In this post, our Murfreesboro vets share how to detect fever in dogs, and causes and symptoms for the condition. Also, what you should know when caring for your pup. 

What is a normal temperature for a dog?

Typically, a dog's body temperature should range from 101 to 102.5°F, which is significantly higher than humans' regular temperature that usually ranges from 97.6 to 99.6°F. 

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

Since a dog's body temperature may also rise when they are very excited or stressed, fever in dogs can be difficult to detect. Plus, a dog's body temperature can vary throughout the day and at times, in the evening. Therefore, understanding your dog's healthy temperature is key. 

You'll be able to determine this by monitoring your dog's temperature at various times throughout the day, for several days. Some believe that if you toch your dog's nose and it's cold and wet, your dog's temperature is fine. However, if it's hot and dry this means your dog has a fever. 

However, this method is not always accurate or indicative that your dog has a fever. Instead, you should use a digital thermometer designed for rectal use to check your dog's temperature. Some pet stores sell thermometers designed especially for pets. We recommend keeping a separate thermometer dedicated to use on your dog, stored in the same spot your dog's other supplies are kept. 

Start by using water-soluble lubricant or petroleum jelly 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 assist by holding under the dog's hind legs to keep your dog from sitting. 

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

Why would my dog have a fever?

Numerous illnesses and conditions can cause high fever in dogs, including 

  • Ear infection 
  • Urinary tract infection 
  • Fungal, bacterial or viral infection 
  • Tooth infection or abscess 
  • Infected cut, bite or scratch
  • Ingestion of poisonous materials such as human foods, toxic plants or human medications that may be toxic to dogs 

In some circumstances, the cause of a dog's fever cannot be readily identified. This is often referred to as a fever of unknown origin (FUO). In these cases, a fever may be caused by bone marrow problems, cancer or underlying immune system disorders

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 high fever? Contact our Brogli Lane Weaver & Alexander Animal Hospital veterinary team or the nearest after-hours animal hospital right away. Our compassionate veterinarians are experienced in administering emergency and urgent veterinary care for pets in Murfreesboro and area. 

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