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Fever in Dogs: Symptoms & How It's Treated

Whether it's warmer outside or your pup is not feeling great, they can experience a raised temperature. Here, our vets at The Regional Veterinary Referral Center talk about normal and raised temperatures in dogs and what the symptoms are if they have a fever.

What is a fever in dogs?

When your dog feels healthy their body temperature will sit naturally between 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than humans whose body temperature ranges from 97.6° to 99.6° F.

A temperature of more than 103° F is considered a dog fever. A high fever in dogs is a temperature of 106° F or higher is an emergency and your dog should be seen by a vet immediately.

How to Accurately Take Your Dog's Temperature

While fevers sound pretty straightforward, determining whether or not your dog has one can be complicated. Their body temperature can fluctuate depending on their level of excitement and activity.  Did you know that their internal temperature also changes depending on the time of day? Therefore, it is important to understand your dog’s healthy temperature. You can determine this by noting your dog's temperature at various times of the day, for several days.

A rectal thermometer is the only surefire way to tell if your dog is warmer than they should be. 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.

Causes of Fevers in Dogs

While the list of causes of fever in dogs is quite long, here are some of the most common ones we see:

  • 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 substances

There are certain situations where the cause of the fever remains undetermined. 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.

Symptoms of Fever in Dogs

If your dog has a fever, you will likely become aware that they are not behaving normally before you even consider grabbing the thermometer. You should keep a careful eye on your dog and take note of your dog's symptoms. Any combination of the following symptoms is a good indication that you should check your dog’s temperature.

Some fo the most common symptoms of fevers in dogs include:

  • Red or glassy-looking eyes
  • Warm ears and/or nose
  • Shivering
  • Panting
  • Runny nose
  • Decreased energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting

How To Reduce a Fever in Dogs

If your dog’s fever is 106° F or higher, immediately take your dog to a local veterinary emergency clinic.

If your dog has a fever, of 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 running a fan near your dog. Stop applying the water when your dog’s temperature drops below 103° F. Continue to monitor your dog closely to ensure that the fever doesn’t return.

While it's important to make sure that your dog stays hydrated, you should never force them to drink water.

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 veterinarian for emergency veterinary care.

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.

If your dog is showing the signs above along with a temperature around 106° F or higher, please contact The Regional Veterinary Referral Center right away for emergency care.

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The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

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