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Dog Fever 101: Things Every Dog Parent Should Know

At A Glance

Does your dog have fever? Start with checking your pup for tell-tale symptoms of fever, like shivering, a runny nose, lethargy, a dry or warm nose and/or vomiting. Call up your vet, or visit them to diagnose what could be wrong with your dog. Oh, and don’t forget to give them lots of love and attention while they’re down and out.

  • Give them lots of fluids to drink. Soak a soft cloth in cool water and wipe their paws and ears.
  • Feed them small but frequent meals so that it doesn’t take a toll on their digestive system.

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How to comfort a dog with a fever?

While there’s no one-step solution to comforting your dog when it’s showing signs of fever, you can start with checking their body temperature.

Always remember if it’s above 101 degree Fahrenheit, dial your vet.

In the meanwhile, dip a soft piece of cloth in tepid water, wring it dry, and wipe your pet’s paws and ear with it.

And to get into the heart of the matter, read on.

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What Is The Normal Body Temperature For A Dog?

Knowing your dog’s normal body temperature can better prepare you for how to comfort a dog with fever.

Why?

As Dog Trainer Eithne explains, a warmer than normal body might not always indicate fever.

She adds, “ Dogs in general have an average body temperature of 101 F/38.3 C at rest. If you know your individual dog’s body temperature at rest is 99.5 F/37.5 C, a temp of 102 F/38.8 C is more significant to your dog than it is to a dog whose normal body temperature at rest is 101.8 F/38.7 C.”

You should start to worry only if your dog is warmer than it normally is.

“For a dog whose normal body temperature is on the high side, a rise of only 0 .2 F/0.1C probably indicates nothing more than that the dog was resting in a warm spot”, Eithne concludes.

How Can I Take My Dog’s Temperature?

Either way, you must teach yourself to take your dog’s temperature.

A quick way to check if your dog might have a fever is to touch their body. Their ears and paws might be warm. Also, their nose is hot or dry, this could be a warning sign of fever too!

Remember that these methods only offer superficial information about your dog’s state. Sometimes, dogs can feel warmer even if they’re excited, stressed or have been out in the sun.

The surefire way to tell if they have fever is by using a rectal thermometer. Doggy digital thermometers can be purchased at pet shops or at your vet’s.

How to Use a Thermometer on My Dog?

Position your dog to lie down on its side, or have someone hold them steady if they are standing up. Lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly or a water-based, unscented gel and insert it about one inch deep into the anus.

Once the beep goes off, you can gently slide it out and read the rectal temperature.

Dog with a blanket

What Causes Fever In Dogs?

Knowing why your pup is suffering helps decide on proper treatment. So let’s take a look at what are the potential causes of fevers in dogs and learn about how to comfort a dog with fever!

Immune Related Diseases

Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis (IMPA)

Just like humans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, dogs can also suffer from Immune Mediated Polyarthritis which affects their joints and causes inflammation. It could be caused due to an infection, or an immune response wherein the body attacks normal cells.

Steroid-Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis (SRMA)

SRMA is another immune related disorder in dogs which affects their blood vessels around the lining of the nervous system. The meninges that protect the brain and spinal cord could get inflamed in this condition.

Neoplastic Causes

Fever is also a symptom of certain neoplastic conditions, when there are abnormal cell growths or tumors in different organs of the body. These include common types of cancers or tumors.

Determining fever resulting from neoplastic causes requires diagnostic tests.

Viruses

Even though it may feel unfair that our precious pets have to suffer because of these microorganisms, viruses are a part and parcel of daily life

Canine flus, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, canine coronavirus and leptospirosis are just a few viruses that can affect dogs.

Fevers, chills and shivering are common symptoms of such viruses, some of which can prove to be fatal.

Vaccinations

Did you know that there are certain breeds or families of dogs that appear to be more susceptible to adverse reactions after a vaccine?

They are known to particularly exhibit post-vaccinal seizures and high fevers.

Dog with medicines

Poison

Your dog could suffer from fever because it has poisoned itself. Signs and symptoms that tell if your dog has ingested poison includes:

  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Convulsions
  • Agitation
  • Nosebleeds
  • Excessive bruising
  • Inability to urinate
  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Pale gums
  • Unsteadiness

A lot of household items can be poisonous to dogs such as pain killers, chocolate, onions, garlic, and cleaning products. So be extra careful of what’s in your dog’s reach.

Infections

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Just like us, dogs can suffer from painful UTIs that cause fever as well.

Ear Infection

In dogs, ear infections can cause fever, along with discharge and odor.

Infections of Internal Organs

Internal organs like livers or kidneys can become infected and inflamed, causing fever and other signs of illness.

Wounds or Cuts

Perhaps the most common infections in dogs are a result of wounds or cuts that have not been cleaned and treated properly, or left open.

This can lead to inflammation and high or mild fever.

Tick-borne Illnesses

Those who have dogs or know a friend who does, you’d know that tick fever is a dangerous thing.

As Jennifer H. McQuiston from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, between 1% and 10% of dogs with Rocky Mountain (Tick Borne) spotted fever die from the disease.

Sounds scary, right? Ensure your dog is free of ticks and fleas to prevent the occurence of tick fever.

Inflammations

Inflammations that stem from non-infectious but inflammatory diseases are also a major cause of fever in dogs, according to a study conducted by the Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Allergies can also cause a fair amount of inflammation in dogs.

Dog in a bed

Signs of High Fever In Dogs

Lethargy/depression

Your pup might be fatigued if they are moving slowly, and don’t seem excited – even for walks or treats.

Shivering

If you can feel that your dog is trembling and shivering, chances are they have a fever.

Runny nose

A discolored discharge from the nose might be a telltale sign of fever. Take your dog to the vet if you notice a thick and colored discharge.

Loss of appetite

When running a temperature, your dog might not have a large appetite or even seem excited about food.

Vomiting

As there are many reasons for your pup to be vomiting, (like eating too quickly), a fever is one of them. Visit your vet immediately if your dog is vomiting.

Dog with a blanket

Chills

Muscle tremors, chills and shaking are common symptoms of fever.

Coughing

Many infectious illnesses can cause your pup to cough and develop a fever.

Red or glassy-looking eyes

Allergies, topical infections and/or a fever can cause red or watery eyes.

Warm/dry nose

A warm or dry nose is an indicator that something might be wrong with your pup. Check their nose and follow it up with taking their temperature with a thermometer.

Panting

Excessive panting or heavy breathing accompanied by restlessness signifies fever.

Pale or Dry Gums

White or pale gums are symptomatic of kidney disease, anemia and blood loss in a dog. Visit your vet if you notice this symptom.

Dog with a blanket

How To Reduce A Dog’s Fever?

Start out by removing any leashes or harnesses tied to your dog and make it lie down in a calm and quiet location. Create a light breeze by turning on a fan.

Regularly encourage your pet to drink some water.

Once you notice that there are no signs of improvement, please visit your vet.

Dog with thermometer in a bed

How To Treat My Dog With High Fever?

If your pup is suffering from a fever that is 104 degrees F or higher, you need to make a trip to the vet as soon as possible.

As Chris Ber, DVM from North Carolina State University warns, fever in dogs can never be good news. “A sick dog with a high temperature is bad. A sick dog with a low temperature is worse”, he adds.

Once you have a clear diagnosis and plan of treatment from a medical professional, you can follow these steps to treat your dog.

Give Fluids

Keep coaxing your dog to drink plenty of fluids.

Fluid intake is crucial for your pet to maintain good electrolytes in their body. This will help them stay hydrated and not be prone to dizziness or fainting.

Always keep a bowl of fresh and clean drinking water close to your dog at all times.

Canine Aspirin

If your vet has given you canine aspirin for your pup, make sure to give them the medication the way it has been prescribed.

Most oral medicine should be administered during or after meals, and according to vet instructions.

Always consult a veterinarian before giving your dog any medication!

What the Fact! Your vet might prescribe a canine aspirin for your dog, but steer clear of over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, and the likes. Medicines fit for human consumption can be deadly for dogs, causing toxicity and even death.

Dog with food

Offer Small Meals

Smaller meals, given frequently can keep your canine companion’s blood sugar levels stable without causing heaviness or worsening its digestive issues.

Your dog may also experience a loss of appetite if they are ill, so a large meal will make it worse.

Cool Your Dog Down

A simple way to bring immediate relief to your dog is to dab a towel in a bowl of tepid, not cool water, and apply it to your dog’s paws and ears. Keep dabbing with the wet towel until you notice that your pet is cooling down.

Per Ber“, If the dog is already under effective treatment a fever may last a day or two.” So do not fret. Maintain your cool and get your dog the treatment it deserves.

Dog in a vet

When To Take Your Dog To The Vet?

It is a good rule of thumb to contact your vet as soon as you begin to notice symptoms of health issues in your dog, no matter how small or big.

You must definitely rush to the vet’s clinic if you see these signs:

  • A fever that is 104 degrees F or higher.
  • Vomiting, convulsions or seizures.
  • Shivering or profuse panting.

Your vet can also order blood tests for diagnosis.

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.

Vets At Your Fingertips

Know If Something Ails Your Pet Without Rushing To The Vet

Vetster

Make the most of technology — save the time you might otherwise spend on taking your pet to a vet for something that needs ticking off but isn’t necessarily an emergency. Or when you’re unsure whether anything ailing your pet warrants a trip to the vet.

Vetster’s veterinary telehealth services allow pet owners to connect to thousands of licensed veterinarians for the best online vet services through video chat appointments 24/7.

Overall Rating: 5

Book Now

 

Dog in grass

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I Visit the Vet?

It is imperative to get veterinary care if you notice your dog has a fever of 104 degrees F. In addition, if your pet is vomiting or shivering a lot, you must visit the vet without further ado.

Having said that, it’s a good call to be in contact with your vet even if you notice milder symptoms of fever.

Dog with stethoscope

Can You Give Pedialyte to a Dog with a Fever?

No, you should not feed Pedialyte to your dog as it is not suitable to comfort a dog with fever. In dangerous situations like constant vomiting or diarrhea, it can worsen symptoms of fever.

Can I Give Human Medicine to My Dog?

No. Human medication is absolutely not suitable for dogs, as Sue Johnson, a Vet Assistant from New York warns.

She goes on to say, “Most human medicines for fever are or contain Tylenol (acetaminophen, paracetamol), which is extremely hepatotoxic (toxic to the liver) to animals. Please take your dog to his/her vet to have the cause of the fever diagnosed and treated properly.”

 

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Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.