How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Fever
Signs and Symptoms of a Fever in Dogs
When a dog has a fever, their body temperature will rise above the normal range of 99.5°F to 102.5°F (37.5°C to 39.2°C). However, since dogs have varying normal temperatures depending on their breed, size, and activity level, it’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look for that may indicate a fever.
Some common signs that your dog may have a fever include:
- Lethargy or lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Shivering or shaking
- Rapid breathing or panting
- Warm or dry nose
- Dry or tacky gums
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Coughing or sneezing
- Vomiting or diarrhea
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to monitor their temperature and contact your veterinarian for guidance on how to proceed. It’s especially important to seek veterinary care if your dog’s fever is accompanied by other serious symptoms such as seizures, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness.
Understanding Normal Body Temperature in Dogs
Before you can determine whether your dog has a fever, it’s important to understand what their normal body temperature range is. In general, a dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 99.5°F to 102.5°F (37.5°C to 39.2°C). However, there are several factors that can affect a dog’s temperature, such as their age, breed, size, and activity level.
Puppies, for example, have a higher normal body temperature range of 100°F to 102.5°F (37.7°C to 39.2°C) because they are still developing their ability to regulate their body temperature. Similarly, small breeds and toy dogs may have a higher normal body temperature range because they have a higher metabolism and lose heat more easily than larger dogs.
To determine your dog’s normal body temperature range, it’s a good idea to take their temperature when they are healthy and not showing any signs of illness. You can do this at home using a digital rectal thermometer specifically designed for use in dogs. It’s important to follow proper hygiene and safety protocols when taking your dog’s temperature to avoid injury or infection.
Tools for Measuring Your Dog’s Temperature
Taking your dog’s temperature is an important part of determining whether they have a fever. While you can use a traditional mercury thermometer, it’s recommended that you use a digital rectal thermometer specifically designed for use in dogs.
To take your dog’s temperature, follow these steps:
- Lubricate the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly or water-based lubricant.
- Gently lift your dog’s tail and insert the thermometer into their anus.
- Hold the thermometer in place for about a minute or until it beeps if it’s a digital thermometer.
- Remove the thermometer and record the temperature.
It’s important to follow proper hygiene and safety protocols when taking your dog’s temperature to avoid injury or infection. Be sure to clean the thermometer thoroughly before and after use.
If you’re uncomfortable taking your dog’s temperature at home, or if your dog is uncooperative or aggressive, you can take them to a veterinarian or a professional dog groomer to have their temperature taken.
What to Do if Your Dog Has a Fever
If you’ve determined that your dog has a fever, there are several steps you can take to help them feel better and recover more quickly. Here are some things you can do:
Monitor their temperature: Keep a record of your dog’s temperature and monitor it regularly to make sure it’s not rising or falling too much.
Offer plenty of water: Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration.
Rest: Encourage your dog to rest and limit their activity until their fever subsides.
Provide a comfortable environment: Make sure your dog has a comfortable and quiet place to rest, away from noise and distractions.
Administer medication: If your veterinarian prescribes medication, make sure you follow the instructions carefully and give the medication on time.
It’s important to contact your veterinarian for guidance on how to care for your dog if they have a fever. In some cases, your veterinarian may want to see your dog to determine the underlying cause of the fever and provide appropriate treatment.
When to Call the Vet if Your Dog Has a Fever
While a fever in dogs is often a sign of a minor illness or infection, there are some situations where you should call your veterinarian right away. Here are some signs that you should seek veterinary care:
High fever: If your dog’s temperature rises above 104°F (40°C), it can indicate a serious infection or illness and requires immediate veterinary attention.
Persistent fever: If your dog’s fever lasts for more than 24-48 hours, it may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires medical treatment.
Other symptoms: If your dog’s fever is accompanied by other serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, seizures, or loss of consciousness, it’s important to seek veterinary care right away.
Chronic health conditions: If your dog has a chronic health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, a fever can be a sign of a serious complication and requires prompt veterinary attention.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution and contact your veterinarian if you’re concerned about your dog’s health. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on how to care for your dog and determine if further medical attention is needed.