Dog Fever? What to Do and Where to Find the Best Dog Thermometer

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pup with dog thermometer and a high dog body temperatureIs your little bundle of joy sick and you don’t know the first thing to do about it? Dog fever is quite common in dogs.  It’s a dog owner’s nightmare to see their pet in pain but worry no more! Here is everything you need to know to help your feverish pupper get back to tip-top shape!

What is Dog Fever?

First, we gotta ask ourselves! What is a dog fever? Well, a dog fever would mean that your pet has an elevated body temperature. This may either be caused by infection or inflammation. More often than not, a dog fever is a healthy biological response to a bacterial or viral threat and is not really a sign of disease.

Dog Body Temperature: How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever

One way to tell if a dog has a fever or not is by feeling their nose. A moist and cool sniffer is a good sign.

When it’s hot and dry, it could mean that they already have a fever. This may seem pretty straightforward but this method is not that reliable and often result to dog fever going unnoticed.

This is because humans have a higher body temperature than dogs which make it difficult for us to detect an ongoing fever.

Normal Dog Temperature: How Hot or Cold Should Fido Be?

The best thing to do is to use a thermometer. The normal temperature for dogs would be between 101 and 102.5 °F.

woman finidng out normal dog temperature for dogs

Anything above that range can already be considered a dog fever, although a temperature of 103 °F could also mean that your dog is very excited or stressed. The key is to check your dog’s temperature from time to time.

Homeostasis in Dogs!

When humans get sick they tend to cover up in a nice blanket and hope to sweat the fever out. Dogs are special because they don’t use their skin to perspire like we do. What they have are sweat glands on the pads of their paws and in their ear canals. These parts play a minor role in regulating their body heat.

Have you ever noticed that when dogs feel hot they tend to seek a cool place to rest, either under a shade or in the corner of a room?

This, along with panting that helps regulate cooler air inside the lungs. In addition, drinking water helps dogs compensate for the lost liquids. So, the best way to help them maintain homeostasis is to keep them cool, let them breathe and provide them with lots of water!

Causes of Fever in Dogs

A dog fever has a number of possible causes:

  • An infection may cause your pup to heat up. This can be traced from a number of sources including bacterial, fungal and viral diseases. The symptoms vary depending on the location of the infection. For example, fungal diseases can affect several areas of the dog’s body. It can be valley fever, tick fever, or maybe a sign of Lyme disease. There is no knowing for sure until you bring him to the vet.
  • A fever is their body’s natural response to the vaccine. It is not uncommon for a dog to suffer a low-grade fever that lasts one to two days after getting some shots.
  • Food can also be the culprit. Letting your dog eat human food like chocolates, grapes, raisins, and caffeinated products can be toxic to them.
  • “Fever of Unknown Origin” or FUO can emerge when the causes of a dog fever remain unsettled. The likely causes of this range from immune system deficiencies, bone marrow problems, infections that go on unnoticed and even cancer.

mutt with dog fever

It is best to bring your dog to a veterinary clinic for a physical examination and blood test to find out why your dog has a fever.

Dog Fever Symptoms: How to tell if Dog has Fever

There are a few clinical signs to watch out for if you’re starting to suspect that your dog has a fever. The first and most obvious symptom is a high temperature which makes their nose and ears very warm.

You may also notice:

  • heavy panting
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness

In many cases, a dog suffering from dog fever will:

  • shiver
  • cough
  • vomit

It may also make them spew out nasal discharge and have an overall depressed mood.

How to Tell if your Dog is Sick and Needs to Go to the Vet?

As a rule of thumb, a dog temperature of 103 °F or higher tells you that you already need to get your pet professional help. If you wait until it reaches 106 °F or higher, the fever can already cause some serious damage to your dog’s internal organs. This can prove to be fatal so don’t hesitate to bring your dog to the clinic as soon as you notice a temperature increase.

If your doggo suffers from an elevated temperature on at least four occasions on a 14-day period without any telltale causes, then he might be suffering from a fever of unknown origin or FUO. When a fever goes unchecked for a prolonged period of time, it would be best to head on over to your local vet.

vet showing how to tell if your dog has a fever by checking for fever in dogs butt

What Do You Do if a Dog has a High Temperature?

To help cool down your dog, put a damp towel or cloth soaked in cool water around his paws and ears. It is the best you can do to keep your dog cool and to decrease his temperature. Putting a fan in his direction is also another way to keep him cool.

A lukewarm bath could also do the trick, but do make sure that the water isn’t too cold because your pup may start to shiver. You can stop when your pet’s temperature drops below 103 degrees.

Treating Fever in Dogs: The Do’s and Don’ts

Do remember that dogs can’t take care for themselves like humans do, so it’s our responsibility as dog owners to make sure they feel okay. Do monitor their temperature. Do put them in a nice, cool place to rest. Properly hydrate them to ensure they cool down internally and let them breathe.

Do not smother them with blankets. Remember that they don’t sweat the way we do. Only do so if your pet is shivering. Do not ever diagnose without proper medical assistance. Last but not the least, do not hesitate to go to the vet at the first sign of trouble.

Home-Remedies for Fevers in Dogs: Should You Even Try it?

Home-remedies are a great first-aid treatment. It will also save you a lot of time and effort from coming to-and-fro the veterinarian’s clinic. Home remedies include the basics of properly hydrating your dog, applying cool water for relief, and letting him stay indoors to find a comfortable spot to rest in.

A homemade chicken soup wouldn’t hurt either. If done properly, home remedies can save you tons of money!

owner with the tools on how to tell if your dog is sick

Be Prepared! Keep a Dog thermometer in your Pet First Aid Box

If you don’t have a thermometer for your dog, it’s time to get one!

Best Dog Thermometer on Amazon

The best pet thermometer for the most reasonable price is the 21st Century Digital Pet Thermometer distributed by 21st Century Animal Healthcare and priced at $9.99.

But if you’re looking for a more well-rounded thermometer, you’re in for a treat with the ANIKUV Digital Infrared Forehead Thermometer which can be used on the family pet simply by enabling animal mode. It works well to check forehead and ear temperatures. These extra features cost a bit more than the regular thermometer but it’s totally worth your money.

Learning to Use Your Dog Thermometer: How to Take a Dog’s Temperature

There are three ways to take a dog’s temperature: through the rectum, through the ear canal, and through the no-touch thermometer.

If you’re planning to use a rectal thermometer, be sure that it is specifically designed and safe for rectal readings. Before inserting the thermometer, you will need to calm your pet down. It would also help if you have another person there with you who can hold your pet down for a second, so he doesn’t move around.

Apply petroleum jelly or any type of lubricant on the tip of the thermometer and slowly insert it into the rectum making sure that it doesn’t go too far.

If you are using an ear thermometer, you need to keep Spotty still and try to insert the thermometer inside the ear horizontally. You can only get an accurate temperature reading if you do it right so read the instructions first. Some dogs prefer the ear thermometer over the rectal thermometer.

woman learning how to tell if a dog has fever with sick golden retriever

The no-touch method is only available through special thermometers that take readings by taking the surface temperature of your pet. This is way less invasive, but it can be a bit more expensive!

Having a fever is not a great feeling and we know that because we had it at some point in our lives. However, our dogs cannot communicate what they feel when they’re sick the way we can. It is up to us, their humans, to notice if there’s something wrong. Our dog is a member of our family, and it is our responsibility to take care of our own.

Common Questions on Dog Fevers

How do I know if my dog has a fever?

What are the common causes of dog fever?

How should I take care of a dog with a fever?

When should I bring my dog to the veterinarian?

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