Detecting Fever in Dogs

Perhaps you are aware of one method of gauging whether your dog has a fever or not, by touching its nose. Should your dog’s nose feel cool and wet, then you might assume that no fever is present. However, if its nose is dry and hot, that’s when you might suspect that your dog has a fever. Although this can be a handy trick in a pinch, experts suggest this isn’t the best way to be certain that your canine is in the clear.  Fever in dogs is something that shouldn’t be so intimidating to detect.

What Is a Dog’s Normal Temperature Supposed to Be?

While humans have a normal temperature range of 97.6 to 99.6F degrees, your canine’s normal temperature range is significantly higher than this. Theirs should rest between 99.5 and 102.5F degrees.

To take your dog’s temperature, you should use a pet thermometer. Relatively easy to use, a pet thermometer takes your pet’s temperature in just seconds. With that being said, you shouldn’t need to go around taking your dog’s temperature for no reason. Look for the following signs that your dog may have a fever.

Causes of Fever in Dogs

A dog may get a fever due to internal or external inflammation that may occur for one of many medical reasons:

  • An ear infection
  • A scratch, bite or cut on the skin that has become infected
  • A tooth that has become infected or abscessed
  • An ear infection
  • A disease that may be bacterial or viral in nature
  • An infection that is present in the dog’s organs

*It should also be noted that dogs commonly get a low-grade fever for several days after receiving a vaccination. This usually poses no problem, but monitoring the situation is recommended.

Should a dog ingest something that is toxic to him or her, this can also bring about a fever. These poisonous substances include but are not limited to:

  • Antifreeze
  • Toxic plants
  • Human prescriptions or medications
  • Human foods that are toxic to dogs, such as xylitol, an artificial sweetener

*If you suspect that your dog has ingested anything poisonous, call the Pet Poison Hotline right away.

Taking Your Dog’s Temperature

Logically, there are more enjoyable things you and your dog can share than taking its temperature. However, it will provide you with the peace of mind that you and your pet need.

Your pet’s temperature must be taken with a rectal or ear thermometer, designed for pets. To take your dog’s temperature rectally, coat the end of the thermometer with petroleum jelly before inserting it. You should receive a reading in 60 seconds or less, so it can be removed relatively quickly.

An ear thermometer is a less invasive option; however, the drawback is that they are more expensive to purchase. Should you have an ear thermometer, begin by placing it deep into your dog’s ear canal for an accurate reading.

*Important: Never use a glass thermometer on your dog.

Reducing Your Dog’s Fever

Should your dog’s fever be 103 degrees or higher, begin by applying cool water around his ears and paws. A soaked cloth or cooling vest should both do the job sufficiently. Encourage your dog to drink a little water if you can.

Continue monitoring your dog’s fever and when it dips below 103 degrees, you can stop refreshing him with water.

*Your pet should never be given any human medication in an attempt to reduce a fever.

When Is It Time to Bring My Dog to the Vet?

According to the AKC, any time that your dog’s temperature reaches 103 degrees or higher, you should take him or her to their veterinarian. They stress how important the timing of this is. If your dog’s temperature reaches 106 degrees or more, their organs could become damaged or they could even pass away. Allow a professional to get to the root of your dog’s fever.



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