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Fever in Dogs

Just like us, dogs can experience symptoms like a raised body temperature when they are ill. Knowing the signs can help you to address it quickly, preventing complications. Here, our vets at Animal Hospital of Nashua in Nashua share the causes of fever in dogs, what to watch for, and what internal medicine conditions may be behind it.

What is considered a fever in dogs?

When your dog feels healthy their body temperature will sit naturally between 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than humans whose body temperature ranges from 97.6° to 99.6° F.

A temperature of more than 103° F is considered a dog fever. A high fever in dogs is a temperature of 106° F or higher. If your dog has a temperature in this range you should have them seen by a vet right away as it can be fatal.

What is the best way to take my dog's temperature?

It can be difficult to confirm whether or not your dog has a fever as your dog's temperature can rise for causes other than fever. Their body temperature can fluctuate depending on their level of excitement and activity.  Did you know that their internal temperature also changes depending on the time of day? Therefore, it is important to understand your dog’s healthy temperature. You can determine this by noting your dog's temperature at various times of the day, for several days.

While many people are under the understanding that a dog's nose is key to determining whether or not your dog has a fever, this is not an accurate indicator that your dog has a fever.

The only guaranteed way to get an accurate temperature reading is by using a rectal thermometer. You can find one specifically made for use with pets by visiting a pet store. It is recommended that you keep a separate thermometer just for your dog and store it where you keep your dog’s supplies.

Start by lubricating the tip of the thermometer with petroleum or water-soluble lubricant. Then lift your dog’s tail up and to the side and carefully insert the thermometer about 1 inch into your dog’s rectum. If possible, have a second person assist you by holding under the dog’s hind legs to prevent your dog from sitting. Once the thermometer temperature has registered you can carefully remove the thermometer.

What causes fevers in dogs?

While this list only contains some of the reasons behind fever in dogs, these are some of the most commonly seen:

  • A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
  • An ear infection
  • An infected bite, scratch, or cut
  • Tooth infection or abscess
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Ingestion of poisonous substances

There may be times when you will be unable to accurately determine the cause of your dog's fever. This is often referred to as a fever of unknown origin or FUO. In these cases, a fever could be caused by underlying disorders of the immune system, bone marrow problems, or cancer.

If this is the case then your dog will likely see a vet for internal medicine in Nashua to help diagnose and treat their condition.

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.

Some of the most common symptoms seen with fevers in dogs include:

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

How to Treat a Fever in Dogs

If your dog’s fever is 106° F or higher, immediately take your dog to a local veterinary emergency clinic.

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.

You should try to get your dog to drink a little water if possible but never force them.

It is important to never give your dog human medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Human medications can cause serious complications and even death in our furry friends.

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

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.

If your pup is showing any of the signs listed above please contact our vets in Nashua to have your dog examined for an internal medicine condition as soon as possible. 

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