Fever in dogs can be difficult to detect. In this post, our Stockton vets explain how to detect a fever in dogs, in addition to the causes, symptoms, and what you need to know to care for your pet.
What temperature indicates a fever in dogs?
When your dog feels healthy and well, their body temperature will sit naturally between 101° to 102.5°Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than humans whose body temperature ranges from 97.6° to 99.6°F.
A temperature higher than 103°F is considered a dog fever. A temperature of 106°F or higher would be considered a high fever, which can lead to serious and even fatal complications.
What are the symptoms of a fever in dogs?
Chances are that you will notice unusual behavior before you notice a change in your dog's temperature. 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 typical symptoms of fever in dogs include:
- Red or glassy-looking eyes
- Warm ears and/or nose
- Runny nose
- Decreased energy
- Loss of appetite
How do I take my dog's temperature?
Unfortunately, learning whether your dog has a fever isn't as easy as it might seem. Their body temperature may fluctuate depending on how active and excited they are. Their internal temperature also changes depending on the time of day. This is why it's important to understand your individual dog's healthy temperature. Determine this by noting your dog's temperature at different times during the day, for several consecutive days.
While many people think a dog's nose is key to determining whether they have a fever, this is not an accurate indicator of whether your pup's temperature is too high.
Using a rectal thermometer is the only surefire way to tell if your dog is warmer than they should be. Some pet stores sell thermometers made specifically for pets. We recommend keeping a separate thermometer just for your dog and store it where you keep your dog's supplies.
Begin by lubricating the tip of the thermometer with water-soluble lubricant or petroleum, then lift your dog's tail up and to the side. Carefully insert the thermometer about 1 inch into your dog's rectum. If possible, have a second person help by holding under the dog's hind legs to prevent your dog from sitting. Carefully remove the thermometer once the thermometer temperature has registered.
What are some potential causes of fevers in dogs?
Some of the most common reasons a dog may develop a fever include:
- A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
- Tooth abscess or infection
- Ear infection
- Urinary tract infection
- Ingestion of poisonous substances
- Infected cut, bite, or scratch
How To Reduce a Fever in Dogs
If your dog has a fever, of 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 running 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 in for emergency veterinary care.
Veterinary Internal Medicine at Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital
Sometimes, the cause of your dog's fever might not be apparent right away. This is also known as a fever of unknown origin or FUO. In these circumstances, cancer, bone marrow problems, an underlying immune system disorder or another internal medical condition may be the culprit.
Any time you notice the symptoms listed above or you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian. We can assess your specific situations and recommend next steps.
We also have experience in veterinary internal medicine (treating diseases and disorders of animals' internal structures), and can perform a comprehensive physical exam to diagnose the issue. Your vet can then develop a detailed treatment plan tailored to your pet's needs.
If your veterinarian discovers that your pet needs expertise or a procedure that we do not offer at our hospital, we can also refer you to an internal medicine vet specialist for dogs near Stockton.
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.