It can be difficult to detect a fever in dogs. Today, our Pflugerville 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.
This, however, does not indicate that your dog has a fever. Instead, use a digital thermometer designed for rectal use to check your dog's temperature. Some pet stores sell thermometers designed specifically for pets. We recommend keeping a separate thermometer for use on your dog and storing it in the same location as your dog's supplies.
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 Infection or abscess of the teeth An infected cut, bite, or scratch In some cases, the cause of a dog's fever cannot be determined. This is commonly referred to as a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. In these cases, 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 notice a significant change in your dog's behavior, this is your first indication that something is wrong with him. You should keep a close eye on your dog and record any symptoms. Any of the following symptoms should prompt you to take 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
- 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.
Applying cool water with a wet towel or cloth to your dog's ears and paws and turning on a fan close to your dog will help lower their body temperature if they have a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When your dog's temperature falls below 103 F, stop applying the water. Keep an eye on your dog to make sure the fever doesn't come back.
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.