Fever in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Fever in Dogs Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Having a dog at home is one of the most fulfilling experiences to have. Studies have shown that dog-parents lead a significantly better and healthier life than non-dog owners do. However, with such immeasurable happiness comes great responsibilities. Your pet dog is almost like your child – their mental and physical well being is entirely dependent on you and it is you who has to determine whether or not your dog is sick and decide on their course of treatment.

What is the normal temperature for a dog?

Unlike human beings, dogs have a slightly elevated temperature. While the normal temperature range for human beings is 97.6 – 99.6F. However, your dog’s normal range is between 99.5 to 102.5F. A temperature of higher than 103F can be considered as dog fever even though their body temperatures could rise to 103 easily when excited and stressed. When dogs have a high temperature because of hot weather or too much exercise in humid conditions, it is known as hyperthermia or commonly as a heat stroke. The condition may become fatal in case their temperature is elevated to 106F.

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Now let us take a look at some of the most distinct symptoms of dog fever so that we can easily diagnose the condition on spotting these signs and symptoms.

Symptoms of dog fever

The symptoms of dog fever happen to be as the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shivering
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Nasal Discharge
  • Red eyes
  • Warm ears
  • Warm/dry nose

If you notice one or more of these signs being displayed by your dog, it is highly recommended that you immediately schedule a visit to your local veterinarian. However, the only way to accurately determine if your dog has an elevated body temperature is by taking their rectal temperature. Doctors recommend a digital thermometer specially designed for rectal use in vet clinics. Thermometers for human beings do not work in such cases.

Fever in Dogs
Picture Credits: Dogtime.com

To take a dog’s rectal temperature, you will have to coat the thermometer with a lubricant like petroleum jelly or baby oil. Following this, you will have to gently insert the thermometer one inch into your dog’s anus and wait for the results. Most rectal thermometers built for this purpose display the results within 60 seconds. Ear thermometers are much less invasive and uncomfortable. Yet they can be used to measure the heat waves generated by your dog’s body around his eardrum. The thermometer is placed well into the horizontal ear canal to get an accurate reading. It is important to never use a glass thermometer with your dogs as they pose the risk of breaking and causing more injury.

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What are the main causes of dog fever?

There can be any number of reasons as to why your dog may have contracted fever.  These may include the following:

Infections: Infections can be of multiple types, be it viral, bacterial, or fungal. These infections may be contracted from several hotspots including other animals. These infections can affect any part of the dog’s body – lungs (pneumonia), brain (encephalitis), kidneys (pyelonephritis), or even the skin for that matter. In such cases, the symptoms will depend on where the infection is the most focussed and the underlying causes. In cases of fungal infections, it may affect more than one part of the body at the same time.

Vaccinations: A mild fever may be there for 24 to 48 hours after your dog has been injected with a vaccine and this is the result of the interaction between the injection and your dog’s immune system.

Toxins: Ingesting poisonous substances that do not interact well with a dog’s system like chocolates or macadamia nuts may also result in high temperature.

Other causes of fevers in dogs may include:

  • An infectious bite, scratch, or cut
  • Ear infection
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • An infected or abscessed tooth
  • Toxic plants
  • Antifreeze
  • Human medications
  • Ingesting human foods that are toxic to dogs like sweeteners (xylitol)

When to take your dog to the veterinary clinic?

take dog body temperature
Picture Credit: Pet-happy.com

According to studies, a dog should be taken for treatment if their body temperature is above 103F. Do not let this temperature be elevated to 106F as this may cause serious fatalities and also damage their internal organs.

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Once you are there, your vet may need to conduct an extensive physical exam, access your pet’s medical records from the past, and also order laboratory tests like urinalysis, blood count, or biochemistry profile. These tests can offer important information about the underlying causes of your dog’s fever and if there are any infections to be worried about. There are times the root cause of fever cannot still be determined. Veterinarians call this FUO or Fever of Unknown Origin. Oftentimes, this kind of fever may be due to immune system deficiencies, bone marrow issues, undiagnosed infections, and even cancer.

How to treat my dog’s fever?

In case your dog’s temperature has risen above 103F, there is an immediate need to take action. Under no circumstances can you let that temperature go to 106F. If your dog has a temperature of 105F it is recommended that you cool his body temperature by applying cold water to their fur, especially on their paws and behind their ears. Keep a regular tab on their rectal temperature while applying water because you ought to decrease their body temperature steadily and not at once. You need to stop the cooling process once the temperature reaches 103 because you do not want a drastic fall in their temperature. This could have adverse effects of its own.

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In case your dog continues to have a fever, make sure that they keep drinking regulated amounts of water throughout the day because they need to stay hydrated. However, do not force feed this water as it may add to their discomfort. Never give your dog medicines intended to lower fever in human beings as this may cause adverse effects, severe injury, and even death.

In conclusion, seeing your furry friend suffer may be hard on you but they need you to remain strong and calm for them and plan out a course of treatment. Once you diagnose the fever correctly and figure out the underlying cause, the road to recovery should be easy and relaxing for both you and your beloved pet dog.

Also See: All That You Need To Know About Dog Vaccinations

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