Fever in Dogs

Dog Tips
Fever in Dogs

We have all felt feverish every once in a while. Loss of energy, lack of motivation to eat food, bad taste in the mouth, headaches, body aches, etc., are all the complaints we have when we feel feverish. But what exactly does classify as a fever, and why do we think it?

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What are fevers?

A fever is a temporary rise in body temperature. It is a response by the immune system against a certain discomfort in the body. Unlike common belief, fever is not actually a disease but a symptom of an underlying disease. The body temperature rises in an attempt of the immune system to fight a foreign discomfort in the body. Our normal body temperatures range from 97.5°F to 98.9°F (36.4°C to 37.2°C). It tends to be lower in the morning and higher in the evening. Usually, a fever is considered when the temperature crosses 100.4°F (38°C). A fever is generally classified into 4 types –

  • A low-grade fever happens when the body temperature rises to 100.4°F (38°C)
  • Moderate fever if the temperature rises above 102.2-104°F or 39.1-40°C.
  • High-grade fever indicates if the body temperature is 104F (39.4°C) or above.
  • Hyperpyrexia, if the temperature is above 106°F or 41.1°C

Common causes of Fever

Our body temperature is a balance between heat production and heat loss. When you are affected by a disease, the hypothalamus, the body’s thermostat, restricts heat loss and hence the body temperature rises. The common reasons for the same include –

  • A viral infection
  • A bacterial infection
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Inflammation of the lining of your joints (synovium)
  • A cancerous tumor
  • Some medications, such as antibiotics and drugs used to treat high blood pressure or seizures
  • Some immunizations, such as diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP), pneumococcal or COVID vaccine

There can be other reasons too, but these are the most commonly seen ones. Now, we humans aren’t the only ones to experience fever in our bodies. Our four-legged friends, dogs, are also a victim of the same. And there are a lot of such reasons which can happen to a dog as well. Fevers are equally common in dogs as in humans.

Fever in Dogs

Just like for humans, when a dog’s body temperature reaches 103°F or higher, it is considered a fever. Unlike humans, who have a normal temperature range of 97.6–99.6°F degrees, your dog’s normal temperature is higher: the range is between 99.5 and 102.5°F degrees. Now for determining a fever in your dog, one thing you need to know is how to check the temperature in the first place.

How to check Temperature in Dogs

The most commonly used methods are to check the nose. If it’s wet and cold, it’s okay and a hot and dry one indicates a fever. This may be the easiest way but not the most reliable one. You need to check your dog’s temperature using a pet thermometer. It can be done through a rectal or ear check.

For using a rectal thermometer, you will need to lubricate it with petroleum jelly or baby oil. Insert it gently inside the dog’s anus and remove it as soon as there is a reading.

Ear thermometers can also be used. The thermometer should be placed deep into the horizontal ear canal to obtain an accurate reading. It measures the infrared heat waves that are emitted from the area around the eardrum.

Note – Do not use a glass thermometer

Signs of Fever in Dogs

Unlike your human baby, your four-legged baby won’t be able to tell you that he/she is feeling feverish. As a responsible pet parent, you need to look out for signs and symptoms for the same, which include –

  • Red or glassy-looking eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Runny nose
  • Warm ears
  • Warm and dry nose
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent coughing
  • Vomiting

Causes of Fever in Dogs

Usually, it is an infection or inflammation that causes the dog’s immune system to react in a way that causes fever. And both can be either internal or external. The common causes of fever include –

  • Tooth infection or abscess
  • A bacterial, fungal, or viral infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • An ear infection
  • An infected bite, scratch, or cut

These are external elements causing a fever. Internal infections and inflammations can happen due to ingestion of –

  • Toxic plants
  • Antifreeze
  • Human medications
  • Human foods that are toxic to dogs, including the artificial sweetener xylitol
  • Some essential oils like tea-tree oil and peppermint oil
  • Certain vaccinations

When you should be concerned about Dog Cramping?

About Cramping. A temperature around 103°F is considered a mild fever. However, if the temperature touches 106°F, it may become a very serious issue which can even be fatal. In that case, you should be immediately rushing to a vet clinic and treatment should be initiated at the earliest. But it is yet advised that a vet be consulted in case of a mild fever as well so that the situation doesn’t worsen.

Treatment for Fever in Dogs

The vet once contacted, will look out for the underlying reason for the fever. After conducting a physical exam, your vet may suggest routine laboratory tests, such as urinalysis, blood count, or a biochemistry profile. It will be important to mention the past medical history of the pet.

If the symptoms are mild, then you can start doing some home remedies to lower the body temperature of the dog. These include –

  • Apply cool water to his/her fur, especially around ears and feet.
  • Use a fan on the damp fur
  • Do not try to bring down the temperature too fast
  • Keep checking for the temperature and stop applying cold water once it drops back to 102- 103°F levels
  • Make him/her drink small amounts of water. Not very cold.
  • Do not opt for human medicines for fever for dogs. They can be poisonous and even fatal

Conclusion

Fever is a very common condition amongst both dogs and humans. Although not a disease in itself, it is a sign of an underlying misbalance in the body which needs to be addressed. Keep looking for the signs and do not wait for too long before consulting a vet or it may be severely harmful or even fatal to the dog. And we don’t want such things to happen to our best buddies. Also, read about Swelling in Dogs, Epilepsy in Dogs & Ear Infections in Dogs

Happy Mood and Health to your Doggo and lots of Love and Licks to you!

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