Do dogs get fevers? Of course they do. A dog fever simply means an abnormally high dog temperature. It can climb on its own after strenuous activity, but a fever is usually a symptom of an underlying illness. In humans, fevers are pretty easy to spot. Just by touching a person’s forehead, you can tell if they are running a fever. However, it’s not quite the same for dogs.
It is usually difficult to detect fevers in canines by just feeling them because their normal body temperature is naturally higher than human temperature. So your dog’s temperature might be normal but feel feverish to you. They could also be on the brink of running a fever but you wouldn’t know the difference because our hands aren’t exactly sensitive to little temperature changes.
A high dog temperature can be dangerous for their internal organs and may put them in a panic. That is why this article has been curated for you as a dog owner to help you understand dog fevers and what to do when your dog’s temperature begins to shoot up.
Normal Dog Temperature Vs Dog Fever
The first set of questions every dog owner has about dog fevers is probably ‘What is a normal dog temperature?’ and ‘what temperature can lead to fever?’
A normal dog temperature range is 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit or 37.8° Celsius to 39°C. That’s considerably higher than humans who have a range of 97.6° to 99.6° F.
A dog fever starts from 103° F or 39°C. And if the dog temperature climbs all the way to 106°F, you could have a huge problem on your hands. You’ll need to get them to the vet as soon as possible.
How To Take A Dog’s Temperature
As humans, the most accurate way to take dog temperature is with a dog thermometer.
However, most owners also want to know how to tell if a dog has a fever without thermometers. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, you can simply:
- Check your dog’s nose. It’s normal for it to be wet and warm, but if it’s hot and dry, you have a fever on your hand.
- Feel your dog’s ears and paws for a higher temperature.
- Check your dog’s gums if they are redder than usual.
- Check your dog’s armpits and groin area if it’s warmer.
How To Take A Dog’s Temperature With A Thermometer
The best thermometers for dogs are the digital aural thermometer and a rectal thermometer. These go in your dog’s ear canal and rectum respectively.
Dog temperature is much easier when it’s a two-person task. Here’s how you do it:
- Take a comfortable position. If you’re using a rectal thermometer, let your dog lie on their side, if not, your dog can stand up.
- Make sure your dog is calm. You can use treats to get them to sit still during the process or someone else can gently hold them still for you.
- For the rectal thermometer, lubricate the end of it with petroleum jelly or any other lubricant to ease insertion.
- Gently lift your dog’s tail and locate the rectum. It is the opening directly under the tail.
- Insert the dog thermometer a few inches into the rectum or ear canal. You can use the metal tip as a guide and stop when the entire metal tip has gone in.
- Hold on to it to make it steady. When using a rectal thermometer, you can drop the tail after inserting the thermometer to make your dog more comfortable.
- Digital thermometers mostly take about 10-60 seconds and beep when they’ve gotten the results. If your dog thermometer is not digital, you can simply wait for two minutes to let it take its measuring and then take it out.
- Wipe or sterilize the end of the thermometer after removing it. Never use your dog thermometer for a human.
- Reward your canine with treats, a back rub, or some loving words.
Causes Of Fever In Dogs
It’s sometimes hard to diagnose the cause of a fever because your dog can’t exactly tell you what’s wrong or where it hurts.
Vets call it an FUO (Fever of Unknown Origin). But generally, a dog fever can be caused by:
- A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection.
- Tooth infection or abscess.
- Nail infection. Using a dog nail grinder to keep your dog’s nails short will help them stay healthy and prevent any possible infections, which may lead to fever.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI).
- An infected bite, scratch, or cut.
- Ingestion of poisonous materials, such as toxic plants, human medications, or chemicals.
- Ingestion of harmful human food like food containing xylitol, and other artificial sweeteners.
- Infection of the internal organs.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Fever In Dogs?
A dog fever may be hard to spot in terms of temperature, but some signs give it away first. Before you whip out a thermometer, here are a couple of symptoms to look out for:
- Red or glassy-looking eyes.
- Warm ears and/or nose.
- Runny nose.
- Decreased energy.
- Warm, dry nose.
- Loss of appetite.
How To Comfort A Dog With A Fever
Fevers can get very uncomfortable for anyone. As the owner, you can help bring down their fever by:
- Remaining calm. Your dog looks for you to comfort them, so try not to panic.
- Apply cool water around his paws and ears with a soaked towel or cloth. You can also use a dog cooling vest.
- Monitor their temperature and stop applying the water when it drops to 103°F.
- Help them drink a bit of water from time to time.
- Make sure to stay reassured with loving words and a lot of petting.
- If your dog exhibits any other symptoms, such as shivering, panting, vomiting, and the like, take them to the vet.
Take note that it’s not uncommon for dog temperature to increase, or for your dog to start running a fever 24 to 48 hours after vaccination. Humans can run a fever after a vaccination, too. Such fevers are not usually dangerous and pass after a day or two, but it is advised that you keep watching your fur friends in case any other complications arise along the way.
The best response to a fever is always to get your dog to the vet’s office or a veterinary clinic to be on the safer side. Never give out medication to your pet without a prescription. By following all the mentioned tips in the article, you’ll help your dog remain healthy and happy.
My name is Andy Baines and I am the owner and writer here at Super Crazy Pets.
For the last 20 years I have been the carer/parent of many exotic pets, from reptiles to amphibians I have cared for and looked after them all.
I created this website to share my knowledge of looking after pets with other fellow owners.
My works and articles have been shared on many online publications including The Spruce Pets.
You can read more about my story by visiting the about me page.