If your dog had a fever you may not be able to tell the signs right away, but it is important to know what to look for and to seek treatment right away to relieve the symptoms. Today, our Montecito vets discuss the signs and symptoms of fever in dogs to watch for and what you can do to help reduce any fever that your dog may be experiencing.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Experiencing a Fever
A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than yours or mine. (Human body temperature ranges from 97.6 to 99.6 F).
If your pup's temperature rises above 103 F your dog has a fever. If your pup's temperature reaches 106 F or higher then you should take immediate action as this temperature range can cause potentially fatal complications.
How To Accurately Take Your Dog's Temperature
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if your dog is actually experiencing a fever as natural emotional responses in your dog such as getting excited can raise your dog's temperature above normal. Also, a dog’s temperature can vary throughout the day and sometimes at night. Therefore it is good to keep a record of your dog's normal temperature with consideration for noting their normal temperature at different times of the day and night.
One of the most common myths going around is that you can tell the temperature of your dog by feeling their nose, with cold and wet usually being ideal. However, this is not 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.
What Are Some of the Common Causes of Fever in Dogs?
There are countless conditions that could cause your dog to develop a fever. Some of the most common 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
In some cases, the cause of a dog’s fever cannot be readily determined, this is often referred to as a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. In these cases a fever could be caused by underlying disorders of the immune system, bone marrow problems, or cancer.
What Are Some of the Signs That Your Dog is Experiencing a Fever?
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 dogs symptoms. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms below then you should take the time to conduct a temperature check.
The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs are:
- Red or glassy-looking eyes
- Warm ears and/or nose
- Runny nose
- Decreased energy
- Loss of appetite
How You Can Help Relieve the Symptoms of Fever in Your Dog
If your dog’s fever is 106 F or higher they need to see a vet immediately. Contact the emergency veterinarian nearest you right away.
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. From this point on you can continue to monitor your dog to ensure that the symptoms of fever do not return.
If possible you should try to get your dog to drink and stay hydrated but do not attempt to force them.
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.