How to Tell if the Dog has Fever?Everything You Need to Know

People usually touch the dog’s nose, paws, and ears to tell if he has a fever. If it feels cool and wet, he’s doing good, and if hot and dry, it means fever. But, unfortunately, this isn’t the accurate way to detect if a dog has a fever. 

Dog fever often goes undetected. In addition, it can be challenging to detect fevers in dogs because their normal body temperature is usually higher than in humans.

Your dog feels warm to you. But, then,  does your furry friend have a fever? Maybe not. Usually, a dog’s average temperature is higher than yours. Most dogs typically have anywhere from 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so your dog may feel slightly warm to you. That’s why it’s crucial to spot the signs and symptoms of fever in dogs.

What are the Causes of Dog Fever?

There are many common causes for your pet’s temperature getting elevated. Your vet will run diagnostic tests to find out the reason for your dog’s fever. These tests may include a physical exam, looking in your dog’s ears and feeling his belly, bloodwork, X-rays, or an ultrasound. 

Your vet may look out for:

  1. Infections

An infection can be a cause for fever in your dog. Some of the common infections in dogs are:

  • Ear Infection
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • Wounds or cuts that get infected
  • Infection of internal organs
  • Bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases

Your vet will prescribe certain antibiotics that could cure these infections.

  1. Inflammation

Inflammation is another cause for your dog’s temperature to rise. To treat inflammation properly, your vet will want to determine the cause of the inflammation by testing your dog for autoimmune disease. 

  1. Tick-borne illness

Lyme Disease and other illnesses are caused due to ticks in dogs. So, let your doctor know if your dog has a fever and you’ve recently removed a tick or been in a tick-infested area. 

Take a photo before you destroy a tick or remove one from your dog. This helps your vet identify the type of tick and the diseases it carries. 

  1. Ingesting a toxic or poisonous substance

Your dog can get a fever if he eats something toxic or poisonous as the toxins spread through his system. So you’ll want to retrace your steps to see if he had come in contact with any substance when he was taken out. Toxins include :

  • Human foods toxic to dogs such as xylitol 
  • Human medications, such as Ibuprofen 
  • Rat poison 
  • Antifreeze
  • Poisonous plants or flowers 
  1. Vaccines

In a few instances, your dog may have a low-grade fever after receiving a vaccine. This should settle itself in 24 to 48 hours, but you’ll want to monitor your dog to ensure the fever breaks.

The list of essential vaccines that your dog should not miss out on are:

  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis
  • Canine Distemper
  • Rabies
  1. Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO)

To be listed as one, dogs should have a body temperature of above 103.5oF or 39.7oC. However, according to researchers and veterinary specialists, a continuous fever beyond the typical body temperature is very dangerous as it can result in the following:

  • Organ failure
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation: A disorder in which proteins that control blood clotting in dogs become excited and block small blood vessels during the process.
  • System inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS): a condition that stimulates multiple inflammatory pathways leading to severe organ dysfunction and death.
  • Death

How to Know if Your Dog has a Fever?

As it is hard for your dog to tell that he has a fever, you’ll have to look for some warning signs/symptoms. These include:

  1. Lethargy

Lethargy is one possible symptom of a feverish pet but can also be another illness symptom. While lethargy doesn’t mean your pet has a fever, finding the root cause is essential. Also, if your pet is lethargic for long periods and if you notice this symptom doesn’t seem to be getting back to normal, you’ll want to consult your vet.

  1. Shivering

If your dog is shivering and not because they are cold, it could be caused by a fever. Make sure your pet is warm and dry. If the shivers are due to fever, ensure you are not making him even hotter by putting him in a packed room or place where there are heaters.

  1. Red Eyes

If your pet has red eyes and other listed symptoms, it could be due to a fever. Other signs of redness in the eyes can be irritation, infection, pink-eye, allergies, or influenza/distemper. Ensure to treat your pet accordingly, and consult a doctor to diagnose the root cause of the redness. 

  1. Warm, Dry Nose

Some people say that a dog’s warm/dry nose could be an indication of a fever. While this is not entirely true, a warm, dry nose linked with other symptoms listed here can be a sign of fever. 

  1. Coughing

A dog’s cough could be a case of kennel cough. It’s a highly contagious illness caused by a mix of bacteria and viruses. This disease spreads rapidly when the dog comes in contact with the pathogens in the kennel, dog daycare, etc. There is a vaccine to cure kennel cough, and it is strictly recommended to vaccinate your dog if he is a frequent visitor to dog daycare or a regular socializer with other dogs. Even though your dog isn’t a constant outsider, vaccination is highly recommended to stay in a safer zone. 

  1. Nasal Discharge

Nasal discharge is another symptom that a fever can cause. Other reasons a dog can experience this condition are allergies, irritation, kennel cough, or a more severe illness like cancer. Consult your vet to identify the cause of your dog’s nasal discharge and provide appropriate treatment.

  1. Vomiting

Vomiting can also be a factor for your dog to have a fever. A virus could cause this problem, or maybe your pet ingested something that is making him sick. Consult your vet to determine the cause of vomiting. In addition, bowel obstructions like eating a toy or other non-food items can also cause vomiting and may require surgery to remove the block. This problem can have adverse effects on your dog. So, take proper care of them to ensure your dog is recovering soon.

  1. Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite can also accompany fevers. If your food-motivated dog suddenly avoids having his favorite treats, this could be a cause for concern. Like other symptoms, this alone does not mean your dog has a fever but could be another sign. Loss of appetite could indicate pain in your pet’s mouth or somewhere else in their body. If your pet isn’t eating and drinking as normal, you may need to take him to the vet; take a test to determine why he doesn’t have an appetite. As dogs do not feel hungry due to fever, you need to be sure you’ve ruled out other severe problems and worked with your veterinarian on the treatment plan. You might need to modify your dog’s diet temporarily. Smooth foods or bland foods may be beneficial but ask your vet for direction.

  1. Straining to Urinate/Defecate

Dogs strain to urinate or defecate when they swallow toxins that cause digestive problems. When the digestive system is abnormal, your dog may experience a sudden temperature rise, causing fevers. So it is highly recommended to monitor your dog, possibly all the time, to see what he consumes and to restrict him from doing so.

  1. Cancer

Usually, cancer cannot be diagnosed until your vet performs several tests. So, as mentioned in the other listed problems, you shouldn’t conclude that your dog has a fever due to cancer.

How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature?

If you aren’t sure how to take your dog’s temperature, here is how to do it. First, apply a lubricant such as petroleum gel or baby oil to the thermometer. Next, gently insert the thermometer into your dog’s anus for about one inch and wait for results. Most thermometers will take less than 60 seconds to register.

Home Remedies to Treat Your Dog’s Fever

The list of home remedies to reduce a dog’s fever(103 degrees or higher) are:

  • Soak a cloth or towel in cool water and apply it around his paws and ears.
  • Monitor his temperature at regular intervals, and when it falls below 103, you can stop applying the water.
  • You may also try to get your dog to drink some fresh, cool water.
  • If you have multiple pets in your home, isolating him from the other animals will be good. This is especially important if the disease is contagious, as you don’t want one sick pet turning into two.

However, you will still need to monitor your dog closely to ensure his fever doesn’t return. In addition, it would be better to consider taking him to the vet if he exhibits other symptoms. 

It is also recommended to never give your dog human medication without a vet prescription.

How to Treat Fevers in Dogs?

Treatment of fever in dogs is mainly dependent on the cause of the fever. Several diagnostics, such as bloodwork, x-rays, and ultrasound, are necessary to determine the cause. In some cases, the reason that is causing fever cannot be identified.

In dogs, the infections are treated usually with a course of antibiotics or antifungal medicines. In other diseases like pancreatitis, there isn’t one anecdotal treatment. Instead, drugs are given to relieve the symptoms until the inflammation recedes, which can take days to weeks and depend on the severity level.

Cancer is treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, depending on the type of cancer diagnosed. Some types of cancer show positive results to these treatments, where others may not respond as well or at all. For example, autoimmune diseases require drugs that suppress the immune system to stop attacking the different areas of the body.

Most of these diseases are controllable but not usually curable.


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Vet Speaks – How to Tell if your Pet has a Fever

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Pet care | How To Check | Dog | Puppy Fever | Temperature | Symptoms | BholaShola | Harwinder Singh

Final Words

Fevers in dogs can be caused due to several reasons. Suppose you find your dog having a temperature due to the causes mentioned above. In that case, it is recommended to consult your vet immediately to restrict the fever from worsening the condition.  

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