Being a pet parent is just as emotional as parenting a child. Seeing your happy & lively dog suddenly become lethargic and weak can be pretty heartbreaking.
Fever is a common ailment among humans and dogs. However, while humans can easily take care of themselves, it is harder for your pet as it cannot easily walk up to the drugstore to get medications 😀
Dog fever shows there’s something wrong that requires urgent care: It is the body’s way of fighting against illness. During this time your dog needs extra care and comfort.
Read on to find out how to comfort a dog with a fever.
What is Dog Fever?
The normal body temperature of a dog is considerably higher than humans. While the human body has a basic temperature of 97.6 to 99.6 F, a dog’s temperature ranges from 101 to 102.6 F. Thus, even with their normal temperature you might feel they have a fever.A dog is said to have a fever when its body temperature exceeds 103 F.
Most dog fevers are usually a result of hot external conditions or excessive exercise during high humidity. This could cause your dog’s temperature to rise between 102.6 – 103 F and could result in heat stroke or hyperthermia. However, when it reaches 106 F, then your dog has a high temperature and can suffer serious complications if not attended to immediately.
High fever in dogs is usually an indication that your dog is fighting off an infection or illness. Fungal, bacterial or viral infections are some more common causes of high fever in dogs. For you to be able to care for your dog, you need to be able to detect when your dog has a fever.
How to Know if your Dog has a Fever?
You may have come across the traditional method of checking for a fever which involves feeling the nose. If the nose feels cold and wet, there’s no fever and when it is hot and dry, then your dog could potentially have fever.
This method is not recommended as it is not completely accurate. Detecting fever in a dog is usually a challenge because their temperature often shows variations when they are stressed or excited. In addition to this, they often have a varying degree of body temperature during the day and at night.
Therefore, as a pet owner, you need to find out your dog’s healthy temperature. You can do this by taking note of its temperature at several intervals during the day, for some days. At the end of this, you can determine the average temperature of your dog’s body.
How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature?
The most accurate way to get your dog’s temperature is by using a digital rectal thermometer or a pet ear thermometer.
Using a Rectal Thermometer
If you are using a rectal thermometer, make sure you have all you need and try to keep your dog calm. Once you have done this, start by lubricating the tip of the thermometer with a water-soluble lubricant (you can also make use of petroleum jelly). Lubricating makes the process more comfortable for your dog and also prevents injury on its skin.
The next step is to raise the tail of your dog up and to the side and carefully insert the thermometer(about 1 inch) into its rectum. You can have someone assist you by holding the hind legs of the dog. This is to stop it from sitting. Once you get a reading, carefully remove the thermometer.
Using an In-ear Thermometer
If your dog has a calm temperament, you can use this type of thermometer. This is inserted into the ear of the dog. When using this, try not to go deep into the ear as this can rupture the ear canal.
However, note that the thermometer may read a fever even where there is nothing wrong with your dog. This can happen when your dog is very excited or stressed. To avoid this error, do not take your dog’s temperature after playing, running or lying in the sun. This can affect how warm your dog feels and disrupt the reading.
Where you don’t have a thermometer, you can use your hands to get an idea of your pet’s temperature. When dogs have a fever, the ears, groin, armpit and paws tend to get warmer. You can check these areas for any temperature difference.
Before testing for fever you can also check for some symptoms of fever.
Symptoms of Fever in Dogs
A significant change in your dog’s behavior should show that something is wrong. Though there are no specific signs, these symptoms often indicate fever or an underlying illness in dogs:
- Loss of appetite
- Red or glassy-looking eyes
- Warm, dry nose
- Seeking out cooler places in the apartment
- High respiratory rate
- Warm ears and/or nose
Causes of Dog Fever
The most common causes of fever in dogs are:
- Ingestion of Toxins
- Recent vaccination
This is a leading cause of fever in dogs. This could be bacterial, fungal or viral. These infections affect both internal and external parts of the body. They affect the skin, kidneys, lungs and even the brain. Some affect several areas of the body simultaneously.
The symptoms shown are determined by the focus of the infection and its underlying cause. Some of these infections include:
- An infected bite, scratch, or cut
- An infected or abscessed tooth
- Ear infections
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
- Infections due to dental issues
- Ongoing bacterial or viral disease
- Infections in a dog’s organs
Ingestion of Toxins
Consuming poisonous or toxic substances like:
- Macadamia nuts
- Human Food like xylitol
- Human medications and
- Toxic plants,
can cause increased body temperature in dogs. If your dog has consumed any poisonous substance and suffers a fever, contact your vet immediately.
After vaccination, your dog might experience low-grade fever for about 24 – 48 hours. This is a result of the reaction of the dog’s immune system to the injected drug. If this occurs, inform your vet and they should be able to tell you if it is expected or not. While in many cases it is expected, when it persists even after 48 hours, you should seek expert advice.
There are cases where there is no evident cause of fever. This is generally called- Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO). These types of fever are usually traced to cancer, bone marrow problems, infections that are not diagnosed, and immune system disorders.
How to Comfort Your Dog with Fever
- Start by soaking a clean towel in cool water. Make sure the towel is not too cold. The next step is to apply the damp towel to its ears and paws, and use the towel to wipe this area gently and consistently til the temperature comes down. Make sure you also wipe your dog’s chest and abdomen.
- While doing this, keep a fan close to it, as it helps to bring the temperature down. Don’t forget to constantly check the temperature. Once it reaches 103 F stop wiping and allow your dog to rest..
- You can also try giving your dog a cold bath to reduce its temperature. Place your dog in tipis bath water and use a sponge cloth to dab the water on its fur. Apply this to its ears, chest, abdomen and paws. You don’t need soap for this as you are only trying to get rid of the fever . Once you are done, use a towel to pat dry your dog’s body.
- Try as much as possible to keep your dog hydrated. Put fresh water in a bowl and encourage your furry friend to drink it.If your dog still shows serious signs of fever and other illnesses, take it to the vet.
Note: Do not give your dog any human medication that has not been prescribed by the vet.
Treating dog fever and paying attention during the early stage is very important. This is because not only can it be a symptom of an underlying illness in your dog, but dog fever might also make your dog lethargic and depressed.