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Fever in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

Fever in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

Are you struggling to detect your dog's fever? Our Portland veterinarians have got you covered! Learn how to identify fever symptoms in dogs, explore potential causes, and discover the necessary actions to take when your furry friend is running a temperature.

Normal Body Temperature For Dogs

A dog's normal body temperature is typically between 101° and 102.5° degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than the average human body temperature of 97.6° to 99.6° F. If your dog's temperature exceeds 103° F, it indicates a fever. A temperature of 106° F or above is considered very high and poses a serious risk of severe and potentially fatal complications.

How to Take Your Dog's Temperature

Detecting your dog's fever can be challenging due to factors like excitement, stress, and temperature variations throughout the day. Therefore, it's important to know your dog's normal temperature. To determine this, monitor your dog's temperature at different times of the day over several days. 

Many people believe that a wet and cold nose indicates a normal temperature in dogs, while a hot and dry nose suggests a fever. However, this is not a reliable indicator.

The most accurate method to check your dog's temperature is by using a digital thermometer designed for rectal use, which can be found at pet stores. It's recommended to have a dedicated thermometer for your dog and store it with their supplies.

To check your dog's temperature, lubricate the thermometer's tip with petroleum or water-soluble lubricant. Lift your dog's tail and insert the thermometer about an inch into their rectum, taking care and having someone assist if possible. Once the thermometer has registered the temperature, carefully remove it.

Common Causes of Fever in Dogs

Many conditions can cause fever in dogs, a few of the most common are:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
  • An infected bite, scratch, or cut
  • An ear infection
  • Tooth infection or abscess
  • Ingestion of poisonous materials, such as toxic plants, human medications, or human foods that are toxic to dogs

Sometimes, the cause of a dog's fever can't be determined easily, this is often called a fever of unknown origin - or FUO. In situations like these, a fever can be caused by underlying immune system disorders, bone marrow problems, or cancer.

Signs of Fever in Dogs

If you notice a big difference in your dog's behavior, it means something may be wrong with your dog. Keep an eye on your dog and pay attention to any signs of illness. If your dog shows any of the following symptoms, it's a good idea to check their temperature as they could have a fever.

The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs include:

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

How to Help Reduce Your Dog's Fever

If your dog has a high fever of 106° F or higher, take them to the vet right away or contact the closest emergency veterinarian immediately. For a fever of 103° F or higher, you can help cool your dog down by applying cool water to their ears and paws using a soaked towel or cloth. Keep a fan nearby to help with cooling. Stop applying water when the temperature drops below 103° F.

Keep a close eye on your dog to ensure the fever doesn't return. Encourage your dog to drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated, but don't force them. 
Never give your dog human medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as they can be toxic and cause serious harm or even death. 

If your dog shows other symptoms such as shivering, panting, or vomiting, it's important to call a vet.

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.

Reach out to our veterinarians in Portland today to book an appointment if you suspect your dog has a fever. Our team of veterinarians will diagnose your dog's symptoms and administer suitable treatments.

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Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Portland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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