The most common way to check for fevers in dogs is the old and very unreliable method of feeling his nose. If it’s cold and wet, he’s usually healthy. If, however, his nose is dry and hot, then it’s likely that he has a fever. There’s nothing wrong if you use this method but it may not always be enough to do a full diagnosis. There are other elements to consider.
What’s the Normal Temperature Range for Dogs?
People have a healthy temperature range between 97.6 – 99.6F degrees. Dogs, on the other hand, have a wider and higher range between 99.5 and 102.5F degrees. However, there’s a lot more to a fever and dog health than merely touching his nose.
Canine Fever Symptoms in Dogs:
Dogs don’t speak English so they can’t actually tell you when they have a fever. However, these are some common dog fever symptoms to watch for:
• Warm dry nose.
• Warm ears.
• Red eyes.
• Lack of energy/lethargy.
• Not eating.
What Causes Fever in Dogs?
A fever in your dog may be caused by inflammation or an infection as his body tries to fight the fever.
Causes may be internal or external and include:
• Ear infection.
• Organ infection in the lungs, kidneys or elsewhere.
• Abscessed or infected tooth.
• Chronic virus or bacterial disease.
• Urinary tract infection.
• An infected cut, scratch or bite.
• Vaccinations (usually only lasts a maximum of 48 hours).
Your dog may ingest poisonous material that can cause a fever and other problems. The poisons include:
• Human medications.
• Toxic plants.
• Some human foods such as xylitol (an artificial sweetener).
If you believe your pet has been poisoned, ring the Pet Poison Emergency Hotline.
How do you take your dog’s temperature?
There are two ways to test the temperature of your pet. One is by using an ear thermometer and the other, less pleasant, way is by using a rectal thermometer. You can buy pet thermometers and should always keep a couple in your dog first aid kit. It only takes a minute or so to register an accurate reading.
Ideally, you would do the ear test. It measures the infrared heat coming from the eardrum when placed deep in the horizontal part of his ear canal. This type is more expensive but easier to use for both you and your dog. Never buy a glass version and always read the instructions fully before doing anything.
If you decide to use a rectal thermometer, you need to lubricate him with either baby oil or Vaseline. Slide the tool in about an inch and take it out the moment you have a reading.
When should you take your dog to the vet?
If your dog’s temperature is 103F degrees or more, that’s definitely a fever so you must go straight to the vet or hospital. 106F degrees or higher can cause damage to a dog’s organs and may prove fatal so never let it get that high.
Once you get to the vet or hospital, they’ll need to check his history before trying to diagnose the problem. Even though information such as allergies, surgeries, medicines, past ailments and vaccines are essential, you’ll also need to advise of anything more recent such as injuries, other symptoms and how long the fever has been running. What has your dog eaten recently that may have been out of the ordinary? This includes plants and even human food given by mistake, maybe by a child.
A good tip is to keep a written copy of your dog’s complete history in your wallet or purse. Update it every time something needs to be added. Doing that one simple thing and showing it to your vet or at the hospital may save precious time when it’s most needed.
After doing a physical examination, the vet may need to do tests such as a blood count, urinalysis or a biochemistry report. These tests may reveal underlying conditions. If it’s an infection, you may need medication and extra tests.
How Can You Ease Fevers in Dogs?
To soothe your dog’s fever, get a cold soaked cloth and rub some cool water around his ears and paws. Keep a close eye on him. Once his temperature has dropped a bit, you can stop using the water. Get him to drink water if he can. Even if he seems to recover, monitor him because the fever can return easily. If it does and he has other symptoms, the vet should be your next stop. Always err on the side of caution.
Never give your pet any form of human medication, even if it’s only aspirin, because it’s extremely toxic for animals.
Note: This article is only informative to help you understand dog fevers. It should NEVER replace a vet consultation or diagnosis. While this can help you, the vet is the professional. If you think a fever has affected your beloved pet, ring your vet so he can get treated quickly and professionally.
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