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High Fever in Dogs - Causes & What To Do

High Fever in Dogs - Causes & What To Do

It can be a challenge to know for sure whether or not your dog has a fever. Here, our Johns Creek veterinary team explains to you how to detect a fever in your dog, what could be causing it, its associated symptoms and what to do if your dog has a fever.

Normal Temperature VS Fever in Dogs

A dog's normal body temperature can range from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is quite a bit hotter than the average human body temperature (97.6 to 99.6 F).

If your pup's temperature rises above 103 F your dog has a fever. If your pup's temperature reaches 106 F, your dog has a very high temperature and is at risk of serious, possibly fatal complications. 

Taking Your Dog's Temperature 

Detecting a fever in your dog can be difficult because their body temperature can increase when they become stressed or excited. As well, a dog's body temperature can vary throughout the day and night. Because of this, it's important that you under stand your dog's own healthy temperature/ If you can determine this by recording your dog's temperature multiple times throughout the day and night.

Many people believe that if you feel your dog’s nose and if it’s wet and cold your dog’s temperature is fine, and if it is hot and dry it means a fever.  However, this is not an accurate indicator that your dog has a fever.  

The most accurate way to check your dog’s temperature is to use a digital thermometer for rectal use, some pet stores carry thermometers made just for pets.  It is recommended that you keep a separate thermometer just for your dog and store it where you keep your dog’s supplies. 

Begin by lubricating the tip of a thermometer with a water-soluble lubricant or petroleum. Then, lift your dog's tail and up and to the side and carefully insert the thermometer about an inch into your dog's rectum. If it's possible, have a second person help you out by holding under your dog's hind legs in order to stop them from sitting. Once the temperature has been registered, carefully remove the thermometer. 

Causes of Fever in Dogs

There are countless conditions that could cause your dog to develop a fever. Some of the most common include:

  • Tooth infection or abscess
  • A bacterial, fungal or viral infection
  • Urinary tract infection 
  • An ear infection
  • An infected bite, scratch or cut 
  • Ingestion of poisonous materials, such as toxic plants, human medications, or human foods that are toxic to dogs

In some instances, the cause for your dog's fever can't be easily determined. This is called a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. In cases like this, the fever may be caused by an underlying immune disorder, cancer or problems with their bone marrow. 

Signs That Your Dog May Have a Fever

If you notice a significant change in your dog’s behavior this will be your first sign that your dog is not well. You should keep a careful eye on your dog and take note of your dogs symptoms. Any combination of the following symptoms is a good indication that you should check your dog’s temperature.  

The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs are: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Shivering
  • Panting 
  • Red or glassy-looking eyes
  • Warm ears and/or nose 
  • Runny nose 
  • Decreased energy 
  • Coughing 
  • Vomiting

How to Reduce Fever in Dogs 

If your dog’s fever is 106 F or higher they need to see a vet immediately. Contact the emergency veterinarian nearest you right away

If your dog is showing a fever of 103 F or more, you can help to cool their body by apply cool water with a soaked cloth or towel to their paws and ears as well as by running a fan near your pup. Whne your dog's temperature drops below 103 F, stop applying the water. Make sure to continue to monitor your dog to make sure their fever doesn't return. 

Try to coax your dog to drink small amounts of water in order to keep them hydrated, but don’t force your dog to drink. 

It is imperative that you don't give your dog any human medications such as ibuprofen. Medications like this can actually be poisonous to your dog and cause death or serious injury if ingested.

If you dog exhibits any other symptoms, such as shivering, panting and vomiting you should consider taking your dog to the vet.  

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your suspect that your dog may have a fever, contact our Johns Creek vets as soon as possible to book an appointment. Our vets have extensive experience caring for dogs suffering from illness and infection causing fevers. 

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