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Fever in Dogs

Detecting a fever in dogs can be difficult. Here, our Des Moines 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 normal body temperature ranges between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than humans' normal body temperature range of 97.6 to 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

A temperature of more than 103 degrees Fahrenheit is considered dog fever. Serious, and sometimes fatal, complications can occur when temperatures exceed 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

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

Dog fever detection can be difficult because their body temperatures can rise when they are excited or stressed. A dog's temperature can also fluctuate throughout the day and occasionally at night. As a result, understanding your dog's normal body temperature is critical. Keep track of your dog's temperature throughout the day for several days to determine this.

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

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

To begin, apply petroleum or a water-soluble lubricant to the thermometer's tip. Lift your dog's tail up and to the side, then insert the thermometer about 1 inch into his rectum. Enlist the help of a second person if possible to keep your dog from sitting. Remove the thermometer carefully after it has registered the temperature.  

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 cause of a dog's fever is unknown, the condition is known as a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. In these cases, fever may be caused by underlying immune system disorders, bone marrow problems, or cancer.

What are the symptoms of a fever in dogs?  

When the cause of a dog's fever is unknown, the condition is known as a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. In these cases, fever may be caused by underlying immune system disorders, bone marrow problems, or cancer.

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 should I care for 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, but do not coerce, your dog to drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated.

Never give your dogs human medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medications are poisonous to dogs and can cause serious injury or death.

If your dog exhibits any additional symptoms, such as shivering, panting, or vomiting, you should take him to the vet. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Does your dog have a fever? Contact our Des Moines veterinarians today to have them looked after.

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