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Fever in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

Dog owners aren't always able to easily identify whether their pup has a fever. In this post, our Perry vets explain how to tell if your dog has a fever, in addition to the causes, symptoms, and what you need to know to care for your pet. 

What temperature indicates a fever in dogs?

A healthy dog's body temperature naturally sits between 101° to 102.5°Fahrenheit. This is significantly higher than a person's normal body temperature, which ranges from 97.6° to 99.6°F. 

A temperature higher than 103°F is considered a dog fever. A high fever – a temperature of 106°F or higher – can lead to serious and even fatal complications. 

What are the symptoms of a fever in dogs?

You'll likely see your dog displaying behavior that's out of character for them before you notice a change in your dog's temperature. You should monitor your dog carefully and note their symptoms. You'll want to check your dog's temperature if you see any combination of the symptoms listed below. 

If your dog has a fever, symptoms may include:

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

How do I take my dog's temperature?

Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as it might seem to find out whether your dog has a fever. Their body temperature may vary depending on how excited and active 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 tracking your dog's temperature at different times during the day, for several consecutive days. 

You might have heard the myth that a dog's nose is key to determining they have a fever. However, how warm or cool a dog's nose is is not an accurate indicator of whether your pooch's temperature is too high. 

Many owners are curious about how to tell if their dog has a fever without using a thermometer. Another truth about fever in dogs is that the only reliable way to tell if your dog is warmer than they should be is to use a rectal thermometer.

Some pet stores sell thermometers made especially for pets. We recommend keeping a separate thermometer just for your dog and storing it where you keep the dog's supplies. 

Start by washing the thermometer with soap and water, rinsing it, then drying it on a clean towel. Next, lubricate the tip of the thermometer with petroleum or water-soluble lubricant, then lift your dog's tail up and to the side. Carefully insert the thermometer about one inch into your dog's rectum. If possible, have a second person help by holding your dog under their hind legs to prevent them from sitting. Carefully remove the thermometer once the thermometer temperature has registered. 

What are some potential causes of fevers in dogs?

Some of the most common reasons a dog may develop a fever include: 

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

How To Treat a Fever in a Dog

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.

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 in for emergency veterinary care.

Veterinary Internal Medicine at Westmoreland & Slappey Animal Hospital

Sometimes, the cause of your dog's fever might not be apparent right away. This is also known as a fever of unknown origin or FUO. In these circumstances, cancer, bone marrow problems, an underlying immune system disorder or another internal medical condition may be the culprit. 

Any time you notice the symptoms listed above or you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian. We can assess your pet's specific circumstances and recommend next steps.

We also have experience 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.  

If your veterinarian discovers that your pet needs expertise or a procedure that we do not offer at our hospital, we can also refer you to an internal medicine vet specialist for dogs near Perry. 

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 displaying signs of fever? Contact our Perry vets today to book an exam for your four-legged companion.

New Patients Welcome

Looking for quality veterinary care in a warm and friendly atmosphere? Westmoreland & Slappey Animal Hospital in Perry, GA is accepting new patients! Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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