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Fever in Dogs

When a dog experiences a high body temperature we refer to it as a fever. This can indicate that your pup has an illness that needs to be treated. In this post, our Southern Wisconsin vets share the symptoms and causes of fever in dogs, how to take their temperature and what steps you should take.

What temperature indicates a fever in dogs?

A normal bodily temperature in healthy dogs is between 101° to 102.5°Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than in humans whose body temperature ranges from 97.6° to 99.6°F. If your dog has a temperature higher than 103°F is considered a dog fever.

A temperature of 106°F or higher would be considered a high fever in dogs, which can be potentially fatal if not treated quickly.

What are the symptoms of a fever in dogs?

Chances are that you will notice unusual behavior before you notice a change in your dog's temperature. 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.

The typical symptoms of fever in dogs include:

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

Why does your dog have a fever?

There are several possible causes of fever in dogs, some of the most common being:

  • A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
  • Tooth abscess or infection
  • Ear infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Ingestion of poisonous substances
  • Infected cut, bite, or scratch

How to Accurately Take Your Dog's Temperature

Unfortunately, learning whether your dog has a fever isn't as easy as it might seem. Their body temperature may fluctuate depending on how active and excited they are. Their internal temperature also changes depending on the time of day. This is why it's important to understand your individual dog's healthy temperature. Determine this by noting your dog's temperature at different times during the day, for several consecutive days. 

While you may have heard the saying about how a dog's nose can indicate their temperature, this is just an old wives' tale. Your dog's nose being wet and cold or warm and dry cannot indicate their internal temperature.

The only method of taking an accurate internal body temperature in dogs is with a rectal thermometer. Some pet stores sell thermometers made specifically for pets. We recommend keeping a separate thermometer just for your dog and storing it where you keep your dog's supplies. 

Begin by lubricating the tip of the thermometer with water-soluble lubricant or petroleum, then lift your dog's tail up and to the side. Carefully insert the thermometer about 1 inch into your dog's rectum. If possible, have a second person help by holding under the dog's hind legs to prevent your dog from sitting. Carefully remove the thermometer once the thermometer temperature has registered.

Way to Help Reduce a Dog's Fever

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.

Try to coax your dog to drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated, but don’t force your dog to drink.

Human medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen should never be given to your dog. They can be poisonous and may cause serious injury or death.

If your dog exhibits any other symptoms, such as shivering, panting, and vomiting you should consider taking your dog in for emergency veterinary care.

Veterinary Internal Medicine at Badger Veterinary Hospital

There may be times when the cause of your dog's fever will not be easily identified. Any time you notice the symptoms listed above or you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian. We can assess your specific situation and recommend the next steps.

Our team is experienced in veterinary internal medicine (treating diseases and disorders of animals' internal structures) and can perform a comprehensive physical exam to diagnose the issue. Your vet can then develop a detailed treatment plan tailored to your pet's needs. 

Your pet's health is our highest priority. We take treating issues affecting their internal organs very seriously.

Because of this, if your pet needs a procedure or expertise that we do not offer, we will refer you to an experienced veterinary internal medicine specialist located in Southern Wisconsin.

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.

Is your dog showing signs of a fever or any other type of illness? Contact our Southern Wisconsin veterinary team to schedule an exam.

New Patients Welcome

Badger Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients. Our team is passionate about the health of animals from across Southern Wisconsin. Contact our closest location to book your first appointment today!

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