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Fevers in Dogs

Detecting a fever in dogs can be difficult. Here, our Statesboro vets explain how to detect a fever in dogs, the causes, symptoms and what you need to know to care for your pet.

What is a normal temperature for a dog and what temperature is a dog fever? 

A dog's typical body temperature ranges between 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much higher than humans' normal body temperature range of 97.6 to 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

A dog fever is defined as a temperature of more than 103 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures exceed 106 degrees Fahrenheit, serious and sometimes fatal complications can occur.

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

Dog fever detection can be difficult since their body temperatures might rise when they are enthusiastic or agitated. A dog's temperature can also fluctuate throughout the day and occasionally at night. As a result, understanding your dog's typical body temperature is crucial. Keep track of your dog's temperature throughout the day for many days to discover this.

According to some, if you feel your dog's nose and it is wet and cold, the dog's temperature is normal, but if it is hot and dry, the dog has a fever. This is not, however, a reliable indicator that your dog has a fever.

The most accurate way to check your dog's temperature is with a rectal digital thermometer; some pet stores sell thermometers designed specifically for pets. It is recommended that you keep a separate thermometer for your dog and keep it in the same location as the rest of his supplies.

To begin, lubricate the thermometer's tip with petroleum or a water-soluble lubricant. Then, carefully lift your dog's tail up and to the side and insert the thermometer approximately 1 inch into his rectum. If possible, enlist the assistance of a second person to prevent your dog from sitting. Once the thermometer has registered the temperature, carefully remove it.

How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer

You may check for a few indications to detect whether your dog has a fever without using a thermometer. A spike in body temperature is a common indication, which can be identified by feeling their ears, paws, or nose. Furthermore, if your dog exhibits signs like lethargy, loss of appetite, or excessive panting, it could be a sign of a fever. It is, nevertheless, vital to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Why would a dog have a fever?  

A variety of illnesses and conditions may cause a fever in your dog. These include:

  • A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
  • An ear infection
  • An infected bite, scratch, or cut 
  • Tooth infection or abscess
  • Urinary tract infection 
  • Ingestion of poisonous materials, such as toxic plants, human medications, or human foods that are toxic to dogs

When the source of a dog's fever is unknown, the condition is known as a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. In certain circumstances, fever may be caused by underlying immune system abnormalities, bone marrow issues, or malignancy.

What are the symptoms of a fever in dogs?  

If you notice a significant change in your dog's behavior, this is your first sign that he or she is ill. Keep an eye on your dog and pay attention to his or her symptoms. Any of the following signs should raise your alarm and urge you to take your dog's temperature.

The most common symptoms of a 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 Treat a Dog with a Fever

If your dog's fever is 106 F or higher, take him to a local vet emergency clinic immediately.

If your dog has a fever of 103 F or higher, you can assist in lowering his body temperature by applying cool water to his ears and paws with a soaked towel or cloth and running a fan near him. When your dog's temperature falls below 103 F, stop applying water. Maintain a close eye on your dog to ensure the fever does not recur.

Encourage your dog to drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated, but avoid coercion.

It is critical to never administer human medications to your dogs, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medications are toxic to dogs and can result in serious injury or death.

If your dog displays any additional symptoms, such as shivering, panting, or vomiting, you should consider bringing him to the veterinarian.  

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Does your dog have a fever? Our Statesboro veterinarians are trained to diagnose and treat fevers in dogs. Contact us today.

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