Dog’s Head is Hot – Everything You Need to Know

Suppose you notice that your dog’s head is hot. In that case, what does this mean? Is your dog okay? What can you do? For beginners, don’t panic. There are several reasons your dog could have a hot head. Some of the reasons that may cause a temperature rise include: 

  • A Fever
  • Stress
  • His natural cooling process
  • An increase in the temperature of his surroundings 

So why is their head feeling hot?

Why Is Your Dog’s Head Hot?

As humans, our first instinct when we find out that our dog’s head is feeling hot is we panic. But just because a hot forehead indicates fever in humans doesn’t necessarily make it valid for dogs.

The reason is that dogs have a higher body temperature than humans. So your dog’s head could be hot for reasons which aren’t an emergency or dangerous. We’ll discuss all the reasons for hotness in dogs in this article below.

Dogs Average Body Temperature

Dogs have a higher average body temperature than humans. For example, the body temperature of a healthy dog ranges between 99.5°F – 102.5°F, while humans’ average lies between 97.6°F –99.6°F. So, what you might think is a high temperature for your dog could be pretty normal.

Another important point is that our fingers aren’t sensitive enough to estimate body temperatures accurately. So even if you feel that your dog’s head is feeling hotter than usual, the exact reason might be completely harmless.

Causes of Head Overheating in Dogs

  1. Fever

Fever naturally increases body temperature. While it might sound harmless, fever in your dog is considered a serious medical concern and handled adequately.

Usually, a temperature of above 103˚F indicates a fever in dogs. But, more importantly, it is a sign that your canine might be suffering from a medical issue that might need immediate attention.

Causes of Fever

A dog can catch fever due to both internal and external factors. Mental stress can also be a reason for fever in your dog, but it’s best to prevent any possible infections which could turn deadly to your dog:

  1. Infections: In the majority of the cases, infections cause dogs to become feverish. Because an infection could be external or internal, you must discover the source as soon as possible and treat it properly.
  • If the infection appears external, it could result from a bug bite, scratch, or a cut on the skin that has become infected. Your canine’s ears and teeth can also become infected due to poor hygiene. 
  • Your dog can get internally infected if germs enter through a break in the skin. These can be bacterial, viral, or fungal, affecting one or multiple organs at a time. This includes the kidneys, lungs, or even the brain.
  • In any case, infections can worsen and should be treated immediately. Contact your vet and prescribe medication accordingly if you find the sickness source. 
  1. Vaccination: If you have taken your dog to the veterinarian for vaccination, the chances are that the fever is a reaction to the dog vaccine. The fever will last no more than 24 to 48 hours at maximum in this case. 

However, contact your veterinarian for further guidance if it does continue for more than two days. 

  1. Toxication: This is the most problematic of all situations. Your dog could catch a high fever if they ingest something poisonous or toxic. 
  • Contact your vet right away if you suspect that your canine might have consumed some toxic plants, macadamia nuts, human medication, chocolate, or anything harmful to their health.
  • In most circumstances, you’ll find some of the toxins, like medicines, macadamia nuts, or chocolate lying around when your dog eats them. So don’t waste time and get them to your nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible if you think your dog has been poisoned.

Symptoms of Fever

If you find your dog’s head hotter than usual and you don’t suspect poisoning, the primary thing you should look for is symptoms associated with fever. At least one indication will always be present regardless of the cause. Some common symptoms of fever include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Shivering
  • Nasal Discharge

Check their body temperature to confirm a fever if you notice one or more symptoms in your canine. 

How to Test a Dog’s Body Temperature?

Checking a dog’s temperature isn’t as easy as it sounds. Firstly, you need a special thermometer to test your dog’s temperature. There are 2 types of thermometers available for testing a dog’s temperature:

  • Digital Thermometer
  • Rectal Thermometer

A digital thermometer is easy to use, quick in figuring out the result, and accurate enough to know if your dog holds a fever. On the other hand, a rectal thermometer is quite accurate in measuring body temperatures, but it’s uncomfortable for your dog and is also difficult to use. 

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  • If you’re using a rectal thermometer, have someone your dog trusts, hold them, and give treats while you are taking their temperature. 
  • Place water-based lubricant at the thermometer’s tip and gently insert it about an inch deep into your dog’s anus. Hold it for 45-60 seconds, and then take it out to read your dog’s temperature.
  • But if you’re planning to use a digital thermometer, just read the instructions on the manual and insert it gently into their ear. Do not insert it too deeply, and it shouldn’t take more than 2-3 seconds for the digital thermometer to read your dog’s temperature.
  • Always remember that if your thermometer reads below 102.5˚F, your dog’s body temperature is normal. Whereas if the reading is above 103˚F, it’s probably best to take your dog to your vet as soon as you can.

How To Test Your Dog’s Temperature If You Don’t Have A Thermometer?

You might not have a thermometer on hand all the time. So, how do you know if your dog has a fever? The best option is to feel all the places where your canine doesn’t have any hair (or has little of it). 

  • You can check their ears, nose, paws, groin area, and armpits. If they feel warmer than usual, it might mean your dog has a fever. Also, check your dog’s gums to see any changes like dryness or brighter color. Moreover, if you observe any yellow or green colored discharge coming from their nose, it might be a sign of an infection. 
  • If you don’t have a dog thermometer and suspect that your dog has a fever, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog’s fever gets too high, it can become dangerous. 
  1. Natural Cooling Mechanism

Another reason a dog’s head gets hot, which many people don’t know, is its natural cooling mechanism. Unlike humans, dogs cannot cool their bodies by sweating. The only way dogs lower their temperature is by panting or sweating through their feet.

Nevertheless, they do possess a unique cooling mechanism that humans do not. When their temperature rises above normal, their body circulates warm blood to their heads, where it can spread to their ears to make it easier to cool.

On a hot day, there are chances that your dog’s natural cooling mechanism will be working at full capacity unless the room temperature is in control. In these cases, it’s easy to misjudge and believe a hot head as fever, while the truth is just the hot blood circulating to their heads.

  1. Stress

Like in humans, stress can cause physical symptoms in dogs, including an elevated body temperature. In addition, dogs can even develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if they experience severe trauma!

  • Any changes in your canine’s environment or routine can easily cause stress.
  • A change in the environment also includes adding a new family member or a pet. Unfortunately, most dogs are bound to develop stress in the early stages unless they’re extremely friendly breeds.
  • If your dog suffers from a traumatic occurrence, that could also lead to stress. For example, getting attacked by another dog or animal, losing a companion or partner, thunderstorms, and fireworks, all these events can cause trauma and lead to the buildup of stress.
  1. Daily Unharmful Occurrences

In most cases, the hotness on your dog’s head is due to completely harmless daily occurrences in their environment. Instances like: 

  • Your dog coming to you after sitting in front of the fireplace or heater, your dog’s head might feel warmer than usual. 
  • Walking or playing with them in direct sunlight can also cause a warm head.

The fact is, most of us are guilty of becoming over-concerned in such cases. However, you can never blame yourself for protecting your canine’s health. It’s a good thing to be attentive to any changes in your dog’s overall condition, behavior, and health. It’s an indication that you care about your dog’s well-being and is a sign of being a good owner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens if Your Dog Seems Overheated?

Overheating is very dangerous in dogs and can cause heat strokes or sudden death if not addressed instantly. So if your dog is panting, disorienting or fainting, vomiting, breathing heavily or showing any signs of overheating, take them to a veterinarian straight away.

What Medicine Can You Give a Dog for Fever?

It is highly recommended to give only veterinarian prescribed medicines to your dogs.

You should never give your canine any human medications like paracetamol or ibuprofen, as these are highly toxic for pets. 

What Room Temperature is Best for Dogs?

Maintain a temperature of around 78˚F during summers. In winter, a room temperature of 68˚F is perfect for most dog breeds.

At What Temperature Should You Not Take Your Dog Out for a Walk?

You can use the five-second rule to test this. First, place the back of your hand on the pavement, and if you cannot keep it on for 5 seconds, it’s probably too hot to take your dog out for a walk.

How to Cool Down an Overheated Dog?

If your dog shows signs of overheating, place them in front of a fan or an air-conditioned room. Place cool and wet pieces of cloth on their pulse points such as the neck, armpits, behind their hind legs, etc. Give them cold water to drink, but don’t force them.

What are the Symptoms of Dehydration in Dogs?

Some typical dehydration symptoms in dogs include dry nose, panting, lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, skin elasticity, and eyes that seem dry.


How to Tell If a Dog Has a Fever (Most Accurate Method)

Know the Symptoms of Fever in Your Dog

Fever in Dogs

Why does my dog feel hot?

Final Thoughts

A dog’s head can be hot for several reasons. Suppose you find your dog having an overheated head due to the aforementioned causes. In that case, it is highly recommended to consult your veterinarian immediately to restrict the condition from worsening. 

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