In the article “Fever in Dogs: Signs, Causes, and Care Tips,” you’ll learn everything you need to know about identifying and managing a fever in your furry family member. Just like humans, dogs can develop fevers that can be life-threatening if left untreated. By understanding the signs of a fever, learning how to take your dog’s temperature, and knowing when to seek veterinary care, you can ensure that your beloved pet stays happy and healthy. Additionally, the article provides helpful tips on how to comfort your dog and prevent fevers from occurring in the first place. Your dog’s well-being is important, so let this guide be your roadmap to being the best pet parent you can be.
Deciphering Fever in Dogs: What You Need to Know
Just like humans, dogs can get fevers, too. And just like us, those fevers can be life-threatening. A dog’s healthy body temperature is around 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius). Anything above 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) could harm your dog.
Fevers in dogs indicate your dog is ill and fighting off illness. It’s just like us when we have fevers. And just like us, we must determine when to call the veterinarian. Except your dog can’t talk to you and tell you how they feel. You have to decide for them.
Taking Your Dog’s Temperature: Tools and Techniques
Technology has come a long way with the tools to take your dog’s temperature. You can go old school with a rectal thermometer or the electronic route. There are pros and cons for both.
Old School Methods and Tools
There is the tried and true rectal thermometer. The pro is that it is the most accurate way of taking your dog’s temperature. The con is, well, there is only one. Read on, and you will understand.
If you are using a rectal thermometer, apply a little lubricant to your dog’s thermometer (do not use your thermometer for this one). You may need someone to hold your dog steady as you gently insert it into your dog’s rear end about an inch or so. Hold it steady for about three minutes, then remove the thermometer and read the temperature.
Digital thermometers made just for pets are less invasive and reliable, though not as reliable as the rectal thermometer. These ear thermometers measure the infrared heat waves emitted around the eardrum. It can read the temperature in about 60 seconds.
The only downside to ear thermometers is if your dog has an ear infection. It may read the heat from the infection, not your dog’s temperature. Either way, it will tell you if something is wrong with your dog.
If you are using an ear thermometer, please read all instructions carefully. You can insert those too deep into your dog’s ear, causing damage to their eardrum. And do not ever use a glass thermometer in their ear.
Identifying Fever in Dogs: Watch for These Telltale Signs
Before you take your dog’s temperature, they may exhibit some outward signs of a fever. If you notice any of the following in your furry friend, they may have a fever, and you should take their temperature.
- Red or glassy-looking eyes
- Warm ears and/or nose
- Runny nose
- Decreased energy
- Loss of appetite
My dog loves food, and I know if she isn’t eating, especially her favorite treats, then something is wrong. I watch for other behaviors to indicate what could be the problem, and I call my vet. You know your dog and their behavioral pattern better than anyone else. Anything that doesn’t align with what you know indicates something is wrong.
Triggers of Fever in Dogs: Unveiling the Culprits
Once you have determined something is wrong, and you are on the phone with your vet, they will ask you some questions to determine what may have caused the fever in your dog. The answers you provide will help determine a course of treatment and ensure that if something dangerous in your house caused your dog’s illness, you immediately remove it.
Let’s look at some common culprits that could cause your dog to become ill and have a fever.
Just like how we catch a cold, dogs can get infections, too. It could be bacterial or viral.
- An infected bite, scratch, or cut
- Ear infection
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Infected or abscessed tooth
- Bacterial or viral disease
- Infection of organs, such as kidneys or lungs
Ingestion of poisonous materials can also cause a fever. These include:
- Toxic plants
- Human medications
- Human foods that are toxic to dogs, including the artificial sweetener xylitol
Important Note: If you think your dog has ingested a toxic substance, contact the Pet Poison Hotline.
It’s not uncommon for pets (and humans) to experience a low-grade fever a day or so after a vaccination. These reactions are usually not dangerous and resolve after a day or so, but monitor the situation. Don’t hesitate to ask what side effects they may exhibit after vaccination so you know what to look for.
Urgent Decisions: When Your Dog Needs the Vet
Your dog can’t tell you when they are sick. We have covered what constitutes a fever in your dog and what outward symptoms may indicate your dog is sick. So when do you call the vet?
You should call at the first indication that your dog has a fever. Remember, that’s anything above 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius). When you talk with your vet, they want you to monitor your dog’s fever. If the fever increases, you may need to take your dog to see your vet, or they may tell you to go straight to the emergency vet clinic.
If your dog’s temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41.1 degrees Celsius) or higher, go to the emergency vet immediately. Your dog needs treatment right away. A temperature that high can damage your dog’s internal organs and can be fatal.
Always seek veterinary care for your dog if you suspect something is wrong. Do not give your dog human medications to reduce fevers. Those can contain toxic ingredients.
Comforting Your Furry Friend: Home Care Tips for Fever
How can you keep your dog comfortable as the vet-prescribed medications take effect? You can take a few steps to help reduce the fever and keep your dog comfortable.
You can apply cool water around your dog’s paws and ears with a soaked towel or cloth. If you have a dog cooling vest, you can use that, too. You can stop applying the cool water once the dog’s temperature drops below 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hydration is key. Just like we need fluids under the weather, your dog does too. Make sure they have access to fresh water. And create a quiet, cozy spot where they can rest and recover.
If your veterinarian has prescribed medications, administer those as prescribed. Please don’t give your dog more, thinking it will help them faster. It won’t, and it may harm them.
Protecting Your Pup: Tips to Prevent Canine Fever
We’ve discussed what to do when your dog has a fever, but what about preventing it? There isn’t much you can do to prevent your dog from getting a fever. Remember, it is a natural reaction to their body fighting something off (just like in people).
But just like people, getting regular check-ups at the vet and ensuring that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations are two ways to help prevent your furry buddy from getting sick.
Unwavering dog love can be a rollercoaster ride, filled with ups and downs of unexpected illnesses and fevers. Hopefully, your dog is healthy, and you never need the information we’ve compiled for you in this guide. But if you do, now you know the ins and outs of caring for your dog when they develop a fever.
Remember, fevers in dogs mean they are fighting an infection and need your help. So take what you have learned here and keep those puppy dog eyes shining bright with health and happiness.