How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever?

How to Tell If a Dog Has a Fever?

How To Tell If a Dog Has a Fever

Every day, your dog wakes you up with her rise-and-shine kisses and licks. You two have a morning walk. Later on, you prepare her food while she stares at you with love, waggling her tail, and hanging her tongue out in excitement. But suddenly, one day, her licks and kisses get lazy, and she isn’t willing to move from her doggy-bed at all. You realize that something is wrong with your baby and that she might be ill. Your dog relies on you to keep her healthy.

What could be worse than seeing your dog sick?

And when it comes to an illness, dogs are shy creatures that try to hide their pain as long as they can. So unless there are visible symptoms, you might not even know that your dog is ill. The dog’s head and tummy is hot. Is it fever? How to tell if a dog has a fever? What are the symptoms of a puppy having fever?

This article is all about those symptoms so that you are ready beforehand.

How to Tell If a Dog Has a Fever?

To tell that your dog has a fever, check the temperature. Dog’s body temperature ranges between 99.5 to 102.5F degrees. This temperature is greater than a normal human body’s temperature that is between 97.6 to 99.6F degrees. So, if you touch your dog’s skin and think that she is warm and might have a temperature, it’s not the case. To be sure, you’d have to use a thermometer, and if the temperature is higher than 102.5F, then your dog has a fever.

Dr. Jennifer Freeman, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian, explains, “normal body temperatures in dogs range from 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, but an elevated body temperature in your dog may be due to a true fever or simply nonfebrile hyperthermia [becoming overheated from high outside temperatures or over-exertion].”

She further adds, “if you think your dog may have a fever, it is critical to visit your veterinarian in order to identify and correctly treat the underlying cause.”

As mentioned earlier, dogs try to hide their sickness, and you may not know when to check her temperature. Therefore, be attentive to any changes in behavior and other visible symptoms.

What Are The Common Symptoms of Dog Sickness?

Explaining the common symptoms of dog sickness, Dr. Freeman says, “some non-specific symptoms [of dog sickness] include vomiting, diarrhea, shivering, lethargy, or loss of appetite… Additional symptoms that might help determine the underlying cause for the fever are coughing, nasal or eye discharge, lameness or painful swollen joints, pale or bright red gums, enlarged lymph nodes, abdominal pain, neck or neck pain, or generalized pain.”

Common Signs of Dog Fever

Here are the common signs of dog illness that you should look for:

1. Lethargy/Lack Of Energy

If your usually spunky dog is uninterested in playing, going out for a walk, or participating in activities she usually enjoys, it can be due to high temperature. This may not be dangerous if the temperature stays for a short span. But consult a vet if the symptoms persist for more than two days.

2. Panting

In case of fever, dogs frequently pant to cool off their bodies. As the dog’s body temperature rises, her respiration rate increases sharply to balance the temperature, using their nasal passages, tongue, and lungs.

3. Warm Ears

Dog’s ears tend to have a less dense coat. So, as soon as your dog’s body temperature rises, you can feel their ears getting warm.

4. Warm, Dry Nose

A dog’s nose temperature fluctuates various times during a day, and it may not be a potential symptom of a dog having fever. But, this can be one of the indicators.

5. Shivering

A dog with a fever may shiver. When a dog has a fever, her body temperature rises. Because of the natural mechanisms of balancing the temperature, when the temperature attempts to come down to normal, shivering occurs. 

6. Loss Of Appetite

When a dog is sick, her stomach isn’t strong enough to digest the food, and therefore, your dog feels full for a longer period of time and loses her appetite. This is a red flag. If your dog isn’t eating at her schedule, it means she is not feeling well.

7. Soft Stools, Diarrhea

Diarrhea or soft stools occur as a result of faster movement of fecal material through the intestines, along with decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes. If the main sign of illness in your dog is diarrhea, a relatively simple problem such as intestinal infection or fever may be the cause.

8. Sneezing

If dogs sneeze uncontrollably or have other symptoms like cough, lethargy, loss of appetite, discharge from the eyes or nose, or a high fever, they might have contracted the canine influenza virus.

9. Coughing

Wheezing and coughing can both be signs of an illness, such as cold or canine influenza (yes, dogs can get the flu!). In the case of a cold or flu, your dog will likely have other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, or redness around the eyes.

10. Vomiting

Dog’s fever may be accompanied by vomiting. This could be caused by a virus or because your dog ingested something that is making them sick and causing fever.

11. Enlarged Lymph Nodes

When a dog suffers from lymph node disease, she may experience symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, general malaise, and fever.

Though there are various other symptoms such as warm nose, neck pain, generalized pain, etc., the above-mentioned symptoms are common among dogs having fever.

12. Red or Inflamed Eyes

A dog may have red and inflamed eyes because of viral infections that are accompanied by additional signs such as lethargy, nasal discharge, and a fever. Therefore, if your dog has a fever, you’d notice redness in her eyes, and also, your dog will squint her eyes in bright light.

In fact, fever itself is a symptom of a number of diseases. Following is the list of causes that raise the temperature of your dog.

What Are the Causes of Dog Fever?

There are many causes of dog fever. It could be an infection, an inflammation, or any of the following issues:

  1. An infected bite, scratch, or cut
  2. Ear infection
  3. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  4. Infected or Abscessed Tooth
  5. Tick-borne illness
  6. Vaccines. As a reaction to vaccinations, it’s common for your dog to experience a low-grade fever for at least 24–48 hours.
  7. Ingesting a toxic or poisonous substance such as toxic plants, antifreeze, and human foods that are not good for dogs.
  8. An ongoing bacterial or viral disease
  9. Infection of organs, such as kidneys or lungs
  10. Viral, bacterial, and fungal infection

How to Measure A Dog’s Temperature?

A dog’s body temperature can be measured using a rectal or ear thermometer. However, nowadays, there are digital thermometers made just for dogs and can register their temperature in about just 20 to 60 seconds.

As per the AKC guidelines, if you are using a rectal thermometer, first lubricate it with a lubricant such as a petroleum jelly or baby oil. Gently insert it about an inch into your dog’s anus and then remove it as soon as you get a reading.

How To Tell If a Dog Has a Fever

Ear thermometers are also a good choice as these are less invasive. It measures the infrared heat waves that are emitted from the area around the dog’s eardrums. It is inserted deep into the horizontal ear canal to obtain an accurate reading.

Ear and rectal thermometers are available both in digital and analog forms, but digital thermometers to measure dog fever are gaining popularity.

Here is the list of top digital thermometers that you can use to check your dog’s temperature easily.

  1. Aurynn’s Pet Thermometer For Dog
  2. IBaby-Fish Dog Ear Temperature Monitor
  3. Hazran Dog Ear Temperature Monitor
  4. Pavia Veterinary Rectal Thermometer

What to Do if Your Dog Has a Fever?

Now, if you have used the thermometer and the temperature is above 103 degrees or higher, here are some things you can do at home to help your ill dog.

  1. First, apply cool water around her paws and ears and give her a quiet, cool place to rest.
  2. Provide her with fresh and cool water.
  3. Use cool compresses, soaked towel, or cloth in the male dog’s groin or on paws for cooling.
  4. Continue to monitor her temperature, and when it drops below 103, stop applying the water.
  5. Coax him into drinking a bit of water.
  6. If your dog is not eating much or vomits after eating, try giving him shredded boiled chicken with boiled rice.
  7. You can also add plain yogurt, but if your dog is lactose intolerant, then don’t make this addition.
  8. Monitor your dog closely to make sure her fever doesn’t return.
  9. Never give your dog (or cat) human medication such as Tylenol or acetaminophen as these are toxic to them. However, you can use Benadryl if your veterinarian allows it.
  10. Consider taking her to the vet if the fever lasts for long. Your vet will decide whether or not to use drugs to lower your dog’s body temperature.

This article provided an eagle-eye view of how to tell if a dog has a fever. The best way is to be aware of your dog’s illness is to be attentive to her daily routine so that if any change occurs, you’d know that she is having health issues.

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