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Fever in Dogs: Symptoms & Causes

Fever in Dogs: Symptoms & Causes

Like humans, dogs can get fevers too! Today, our Crystal Lake vets share the symptoms and causes of fever dogs that owners should be aware of.

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

Detecting a fever in your dog can be challenging since their body temperature can rise due to excitement or stress. Additionally, a dog's temperature may fluctuate throughout the day and occasionally at night. Therefore, it's important to establish your dog's normal temperature by taking readings at different times over several days.

Contrary to popular belief, feeling your dog's nose to determine if it's wet and cold or hot and dry is not a reliable indicator of a fever.

The most accurate method to check your dog's temperature is by using a digital thermometer designed for rectal use, which can be found at certain pet stores. It's recommended to keep a separate thermometer specifically for your dog and store it with your dog's supplies.

To measure your dog's temperature, first, lubricate the thermometer's tip with petroleum jelly or water-soluble lubricant. Lift your dog's tail gently and to the side, then carefully insert the thermometer about 1 inch into the rectum. If possible, have someone assist you by holding the dog's hind legs to prevent them from sitting. Once the thermometer has registered a temperature, remove it carefully.

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

If you see a significant change in your dog’s behavior it will be your first clue that your dog is not 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
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Shivering
  • Panting
  • Vomiting

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 straight away 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.

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 call a 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.

If you have noticed signs of fever in your dog, contact our Crystal Lake veterinarians today to book your pup a physical exam!

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Companion Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital is accepting new patients! Our specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions in Crystal Lake.

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