Here’s all you need to know about detecting a fever in your canine friend that the regular pets website isn’t telling you about.
All information has been vetted and approved by veterinarians for accuracy.
Common signs of a fever in dogs
Fever in dogs can manifest itself in a variety of ways, according to Dr Pete Wedderburn (BVM&S CertVR MRCVS, a writer for We’re All About Pets). A few of the most common signs include
- loss of appetite
- shivering (not caused by stress or pain)
- lethargy / not wanting to move
If you detect anything out of the ordinary about your pet, he’s most likely sick.
Causes of fever in dogs
It’s possible that your dog has a high temperature as a result of being overheated when running about outside. However, it’s usually a non-specific symptom of a variety of issues, such as an infection or inflammation.
UTIs, bacterial or viral infections, ear infections, and infections of internal organs such as the kidneys are all examples of infections.
Autoimmune disease, cancer, infected wounds (such as bites), and abscessed teeth are all examples of inflammations that cause fevers.
A dog’s normal temperature
Dr. Sandhya Nair (Oasis Vet) claims that a dog’s typical body temperature is higher than that of humans. The temperature ranges from 38°C to 39.2°C (100°F to 102.5°F).
Any temperature beyond that is considered a fever, while any temperature below that is hypothermia (low body temperature).
A temperature of over 40°C (104°F) is considered a severe fever, and a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible.
Note: It’s normal for a dog’s temperature to rise after strenuous activity. It should not, however, exceed 40°C.
How to use a thermometer to take your canine’s temperature
It’s best to use a rectal thermometer when taking your dog’s temperature.
Step 1: Make sure your dog is quiet, or have someone else hold your dog still.
During the procedure, you can keep your dog quiet by giving him some snacks.
Step 2: Lubricate the end of the thermometer.
You can use jelly, vegetable oil, or soap (not necessarily lubricant gel). This will make it easier for the thermometer to fit inside your dog’s rectum.
Step 3: Gently lift your dog’s tail.
The rectum is the opening directly under the tail.
Step 4: Turn on the thermometer after inserting it into the rectum*.
You can now lower your dog’s tail after the thermometer has been installed. Once the tail has returned to its natural position, your dog is less likely to object to their temperature being taken.
*Only insert the metal-coated tip.
Step 5: Wait for a few seconds.
Rectal thermometers typically display a reading in 10–30 seconds.
Step 6: Clean the thermometer.
Once you’ve gotten a reading, clean the thermometer and keep it in a safe place for your pet. Regardless of how thoroughly you’ve cleaned it, do not use this thermometer on humans.
Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, and Veterinary Consultant for doglab.
According to Dr. Jennifer Coates (DVM, member of the Pup Life Today advisory board), ear thermometers are also available. However many dogs dislike having anything placed in their ears.
How to take your dog’s temperature without a thermometer
Here is how you can tell if your dog has a fever if you don’t have a thermometer.
- Feel your dog’s ears and paws
Because dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, his ears and paws should only be slightly warmer than your hands.
It’s also useful to know what your dog’s regular ear and paw temperatures are. He could have a fever if they’re warmer than usual.
- Check your dog’s nose
It’s possible that an infection is causing nasal discharge (yellow or green). In this scenario, you should seek emergency medical advice from a veterinarian.
- Check your dog’s gums
Fever is indicated by dry, heated gums that are redder than normal pink.
- Feel your dog’s armpits and groin area
If these places are hot and swollen, your dog is most certainly suffering from a fever.
How to decrease your canine’s temperature when he has a fever
It is advised that you take your dog to the vet once you realise that he has a fever.
However, if you are incapable of taking your dog to the vet instantly, proceed with the following:
- Cool the body with a cold bath
- Dab cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to his ear flaps and paw pads
- Encourage drinking small amounts of cool water unless he has been vomiting
Continue to monitor his temperature and halt the cooling process when it hits 39.4°C (103°F). Otherwise, you run the risk of lowering the body temperature too much and it might lead to hypothermia.
Note: Ibuprofen, aspirin, Tylenol, and antibiotics should only be given with a veterinarian’s approval, as some are hazardous to dogs.
Deborah Aronson, Veterinarian of Ivens Bronstein Veterinary Hospital
The typical duration of a fever for dogs
It is mostly determined by the cause. Some fevers last only a few hours, while others can continue for weeks.
If the fever is caused by an illness or inflammation, it will remain until the infection or inflammation is treated properly.
When to bring your dog to see a vet
Use the cooling procedures listed above to lower the temperature if it is over 39.2°C (102.5°F) and below 39.4°C (103°F).
However, if his temperature continues to increase above 39.4°C (103°F) or lasts for more than 24 hours, it’s time to take him to the vet.
Temperatures of over 41°C (106°F) are potentially fatal and can harm internal organs permanently.
Dr Jessica Kirk, DVM of Vet Explains Pets:
It’s essential to take your dog to the vet right away to determine the exact reason for the fever. Remember that dogs get fevers for a reason, and if you address the cause, the fever will go away.
Nursing your dog’s fever
When you have an ill pet, it is normal to panic and feel worried.
But according to Dr Coates:
Mild fevers can be advantageous since they appear to strengthen the immune system’s ability to combat illness. Furthermore, they may inhibit germs and viruses’ capacity to multiply in the host animal’s body.
As long as your dog receives prompt treatment, everything will be alright.