If your dog is acting differently, it isn't always easy to tell if it's because they're sick. Here, our San Mateo vets discuss how to recognize fevers in dogs, possible causes, and treatment.
Normal Body Temperature For Dogs
A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is fairly higher than a person's (human body temperature ranges from 97.6 to 99.6 F).
If your pooch has a temperature that is higher than 103 F they have a fever. If their temperature gets up to 106 F, your dog has a very high temperature and is at risk of serious, potentially fatal complications.
How to Take Your Dog's Temperature
It can be hard to detect your dog's fever because their body temperature can rise when they get very excited or stressed. Also, your dog’s temperature could vary during the day and occasionally at night. Therefore, it's essential to know your dog’s healthy temperature. You could determine this by noting the temperature of your dog at various times throughout the day, for several days.
Lots of people believe that if you feel your dog’s nose and if it’s wet and cold your dog has a normal temperature, and a hot and dry nose is a sign of a fever. But, this isn't an accurate indicator that your dog has a fever.
The most accurate way to check your dog’s temperature is to use a digital thermometer for rectal use, some pet stores carry thermometers made just for pets. It is recommended that you keep a separate thermometer just for your dog and store it where you keep your dog’s supplies.
Start by lubricating the tip of the thermometer with petroleum or water-soluble lubricant. Then lift your dog’s tail up and to the side and carefully insert the thermometer about 1 inch into your dog’s rectum. If possible, have a second person assist you by holding under the dog’s hind legs to prevent your dog from sitting. Once the thermometer temperature has registered you can carefully remove the thermometer.
Common Causes of Fever in Dogs
There are many conditions that can cause fever in dogs, a few of the most common are:
- Urinary tract infection
- A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
- An infected bite, scratch, or cut
- An ear infection
- Tooth infection or abscess
- Ingestion of poisonous materials, such as toxic plants, human medications, or human foods that are toxic to dogs
Sometimes, the cause of a dog’s fever can't be determined easily, this is often called a fever of unknown origin - or FUO. In situations like these, a fever can be caused by underlying disorders of the immune system, bone marrow problems, or cancer.
Signs of Fever in Dogs
Significant changes in your dog's behavior can be your first clue that they aren't feeling well. You should monitor your dog and take note of your dog's symptoms. Any combination of the symptoms below is a good sign that you should check your dog’s temperature.
The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs include:
- Decreased energy
- Warm ears and/or nose
- Red or glassy-looking eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Runny nose
How to Help Reduce Your Dog's Fever
If your dog has a high fever that is 106 F or higher, you need to take them to your vet immediately or contact the emergency veterinarian closest to you immediately.
If your dog has a fever that is 103 F or more, you can help cool their body temperature down by applying cool water with a soaked towel or cloth to their ears and paws. You can also keep a fan running near your dog. Stop applying the water when your dog’s temperature drops below 103 F. Keep monitoring your pup closely to make sure their fever doesn’t come back.
Try to get your dog to drink small amounts of water in order to keep them hydrated, but don’t force them to drink.
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.
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.