So your dog’s ears are feeling a bit warm, his nose is a little dry and warm too!
Could it be a fever?
How do you tell if a dog has a fever?
In this article we will look at how to detect a fever, including taking a dog’s temperature, the potential causes of fever and what steps to take when dealing with a fever.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How Do I Know if My Dog Has a Fever?
- How to Take a Dog’s Temperature
- Causes of Fever in Dogs
- How to Bring Down a Dog's Fever
- What's the Difference Between Fever and Hyperthermia?
How Do I Know if My Dog Has a Fever?
Detecting Fever in Dogs: Common Symptoms
Understanding your dog’s typical active and resting behavior, including panting and body temperature, is an important first step before diagnosing health conditions.
Your dog’s body temperature is a vital parameter used for medical diagnosis.
The typical body temperature for a dog is between 99.5 – 102.5F (37.5°C – 39.2°C).
A dog’s temperature is between one and three Fahrenheit higher than a human’s 98.6°F (37°C), this can be one reason why it may be difficult to detect fever in dogs.
The respiration rate for a healthy dog is anywhere between 15 and 40 inhalations and exhalations a minute.
The heart rate for a small healthy dog is anywhere between 120-160 beats per minute and for a large dog 60-120 beats per minute.
Any change in these normal ranges for your pooch suggests something may not be right.
Your dog’s core body temperature is very tightly controlled, as it is in all healthy mammals, through gaining heat (i.e. basal metabolism) and losing heat (e.g. conduction and evaporation).
What is Fever?!
Fever, know as pyrexia by vetinarians, is defined as a body temperature higher than normal.
So an elevated body temperature in your dog.
We’ve established that the body temperature of a healthy dog is between 99.5 – 102.5F.
Fever is defined as a body temperature between 103 – 106F.
|99.5 – 102.5F||Healthy|
|103 – 106F||Fever|
This increase in body temperature can also be accompanied by a range of symptoms including:
- Red eyes/Glassy-looking eyes
- Warm/hot ears
- Warm, dry nose
- Loss of appetite
- Panting heavily
If you suspect your dog has a fever. The only accurate way to be sure of their increased body temperature is to check using one of the options below.
How to Take a Dog’s Temperature
Firstly, take your dog’s temperature.
This can be done with a thermometer – a dog or human one, just remember to mark it clearly if you’re using a human one!
Although it’s not the most glamorous side of dog ownership, your dog’s temperature can only be accurately taken from the rectum or the ear.
It’s widely accepted amongst the scientific community that the best measure of your dog’s core body temperature is using a rectal thermometer.
It can be done in less than a minute with a digital thermometer, so it’s not as bad as it sounds!
For a rectal temperature reading, use petroleum jelly to lubricate the end of the thermometer.
Insert the thermometer about an inch into your dog’s anus.
Make sure to lift their tail out of the way.
The manufacturer instructions for your thermometer will indicate how long it should take to gain an accurate reading.
This should typically be up-to 30 seconds.
A digital thermometer will flash with the reading.
Ear readings can be very accurate when carried out properly, but, the thermometers can be a little more expensive.
These thermometers measure the infra-red heat waves that are emitted from the ear drum.
Ensure you place the thermometer into the horizontal ear canal to gain an accurate reading.
Again, manufacturer instructions will indicate how long it should take to gain an accurate reading.
Remember to clean and disinfect your thermometer after use.
If it isn’t possible to gain an accurate reading from a thermometer, warm ears, nose, armpits and groin area is a good indicator of raised temperature.
How to Tell If a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer?
Whilst not the best option, it is possible to tell if a dog has a fever by touch.
This method is best recommended in cases of emergency (i.e. without the tools above) or by an experienced veterinarian.
You can use the handy checklist below:
- Nose – look for a dry nose with nasal discharge
- Back of their ears – very hot to the touch
- Groin/Armpits – look for swollen lymph nodes
- Paws – very hot to the touch
- Gums – swollen and red (i.e. not pink)
The condition of your dog’s ears, nose and armpits sometimes doesn’t correlate to their health and wellbeing. It isn’t always that simple. If in doubt, consult a professional.
Causes of Fever in Dogs
Your dog will develop a fever in response to inflammation, infection, response to their routine vaccines or poisons and pesticides.
Like in humans, dog brains also have a built in thermostat called the hypothalamus.
This regulates body temperature to maintain the status quo!
In most cases, fever resolves by itself or in response to antibiotics.
So, my dog has a fever, what should I do?
Some fevers will resolve without intervention, some will need antibiotics, but if it is a persistent or prolonged fever there could be other underlying health concerns.
We will now consider some of the causes of fever in dogs, whether it is safe to treat at home or whether veterinarian advice is needed.
Inflammation or Infection
Fever is often a response to inflammation or to fight off infection; in order to to prevent the growth and reproduction of pathogens, the body temperature rises.
Common causes of fever in dogs are:
- Infected bite, scratch or cut
- Urinary tract infection
- Ear infection
Any of these can be treated successfully by a veterinarian prescribed antibiotics.
Your dog can also develop a fever as a side effect to their routine vaccinations.
This will usually pass within 24-48 hours.
If you know the fever is a response to their routine vaccines, ensure they have access to water, lay cooling mats out for them and ensure they have access to the cooler parts of the house.
Monitor their temperature to ensure it doesn’t increase further.
If they still have a fever greater than 103F after 48 hours contact your vet.
Poisons or Pesticides
When a dog ingests something they shouldn’t, they can often present with a fever.
Consider if your dog could have had access to any of the following:
|Symptoms||Opening of the mouth; a throat spasm makes breathing or swallowing difficult.||Unproductive Vomiting||Reverse action of the stomach and esophagus|
|Causes||Inflammation of the Larynx, Kennel Cough, or Infection||Feeling nauseous, Eating grass, Hunger Pang, Bronchitis or Irritation from foreign body||Feeling nauseous, Eating grass, Hunger Pang|
If you think your dog could have been poisoned, seek veterinarian attention immediately.
Do not attempt to make your dog sick as some toxins are caustic and can irritate the oesophagus on the way back up!
Other Types of Fever in Dogs
There are also instances where fever is a symptom of other concerning health issues such as:
- Neoplasia (abnormal or excessive growth of tissues),
and you guessed it, tick borne disease!
Ticks are blood sucking parasites that attach themselves to humans and animals!
Whilst they are are attached, they feed.
Unfortunately, during their feed they can transmit a whole host of diseases including; Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Q fever, Lyme disease and babesiosis.
Ticks should be removed as soon as possible to minimise disease and damage.
The symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever usually present 4 or 5 days after being bitten by a tick and include:
- High fever of 103 – 106F
- Nosebleeds or blood in the stool
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of body parts – also known as edema
A milder fever associated with a tick bite can be more indicative of lyme disease.
The symptoms to look out for would be a reduced appetite, painful or swollen joints, lameness and fatigue.
If you find a tick on your dog, remove it as soon as possible.
Ensuring you have its whole body.
If you are concerned your dog may have a tick borne disease, pop it in a container and take it with you to your veterinarian.
How to Bring Down a Dog’s Fever
So, should I try to bring down my dog’s fever?
Some veterinary guidance says not!
Whilst they acknowledge that prolonged fever above 106F, can cause organ failure, fever less than 106F is the body’s way of fighting the inflammation or infection.
How Should You Comfort a Dog With an Increased Body Temperature?
You have multiple options to comfort your dog during high temperatures:
- Use a damp drying coat or towel.
- Constant supply of fresh cooled water.
- Ensure your dog has access to shade and to the coolest parts of the house.
- Feed your dog ice cubes
Ironically, if you have a drying coat (for those winter months), soak it in cool water, wring it out and pop it on your dog.
Ensure you remove it as soon as it’s no longer cool. Otherwise you’ve just layered them up!
You can also do this with towels and place them on your dog whilst they are lying down.
Cool mats are a handy addition in your dog cupboard.
Although you can get electric mats, most are filled with water or gel.
They can be easily washed and are pretty robust!
They work by absorbing the heat from your dog’s body.
Most will hold their cooling properties for about an hour, then simply leave unused for approximately an hour to reset.
It can take time for dogs to get used to the sensation of a cooling mat, use rewards to encourage them on to the mat, or give them a chew whilst laying on it.
Although there is mixed advice on giving ice cubes to dogs, the general consensus from veterinarians is that it is safe to do so in moderation. So, they can lick them, or you can add a few to their water bowl.
Never use human medications with dogs!
Yes, NSAIDs do help to bring temperatures down in humans, but your dog isn’t human.
Stay away from the medication cabinet! No aspirin for dogs.
If you are concerned, get in touch with your veterinarian.
Lastly, reduce your dog’s exercise levels. Don’t worry about getting those daily long walks in. Your dog will want to please you, so will do what you ask him to!
Ask him to play some brain games instead!
Avoid strenuous activity if your dog is hot and bothered, go for a wander first thing in the morning and last thing at night, the coolest parts of the day.
These suggestions only apply when your pooch isn’t coping with the warmer weather or they have over exerted themselves a little in the park.
We have established that most common causes of fever do require veterinarian attention.
The sooner you seek their advice, the better!
When you arrive at your veterinarians office, they will want to know when you first noticed the fever, what other symptoms your dog has, whether they have ingested anything toxic, have they been bitten by any insects or ticks and whether they have been around any other sick dogs.
They will usually carry out a range of physical and diagnostic tests to establish the cause of the fever.
Treatment is usually in the form of antibiotics, NSAIDs or corticosteroids.
What’s the Difference Between Fever and Hyperthermia?
A fever is high body temperature as a result of infection or inflammation.
Hyperthermia is a high body temperature as a result of hot environmental temperatures or exercising.
The most common cause of a high temperature in a dog is not a fever, but, being exposed to extreme heat or humidity.
Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia.
Both warrant veterinarian assistance!
We know that dog’s body temperatures are higher than humans as a baseline.
But you know your pooch, if those ears or that nose feels a little bit hotter than normal, it’s worth taking their temperature. The best way to take their temperature is with a rectal thermometer.
It could be something as simple as an ear infection, but, it also may not be!
Watch for the symptoms we’ve mentioned and comb through his fur for any ticks. Check the house for anything he shouldn’t have eaten, but did. Know the difference between fever and hyperthermia and get in touch with your veterinarian.
Dog fevers can resolve on their own as their body naturally fights off the infection causing the fever. However, some infections can't be fought off easily by the body and will need veterinary intervention.How do you bring a dog's fever down? ›
To help reduce a pet's fever—103 degrees or higher—first apply cool water around his paws and ears. You can use a soaked towel or cloth, or a dog cooling vest. Continue to monitor his temperature, and when it drops below 103, you can stop applying the water. See if you can coax him into drinking a bit of water.What medicine can I give my dog for fever? ›
General Description. Tylenol® is a non-opiate pain relieving drug sometimes given to dogs to relieve pain and fever.Can a dog get a fever from stress? ›
Because a dog's body temperature can also increase when they are very stressed or excited, it can be difficult to detect fever in dogs. In addition, a dog's temperature may vary throughout the day and at times, at night.Can I give my dog Benadryl for fever? ›
Yes, you can give your dog Benadryl as long as you do not exceed the recommended dosage or frequency. It is also important to make sure that diphenhydramine is the only active ingredient in the product, as sometimes antihistamines can be combined with other ingredients which can be toxic to dogs.Can I give my dog Tylenol for fever? ›
Official answer. Under a vets care, Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be used for fever and mild pain in dogs, but is fatal to cats and should NEVER be given to them. Dogs can be sensitive to acetaminophen, too. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage in both dogs and cats and lower the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.Can I give Tylenol to my dog? ›
Many pain medications considered safe for people can be toxic or even fatal for dogs. Never give your dog aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or any other medication designed for humans without first consulting your vet.How long is too long for a dog to have a fever? ›
Temperatures under 103 can generally be monitored at home for up to 24 hours. But a fever any higher, or one that lasts longer than a day, requires a trip to the vet. A temperature of 106 degrees or higher can damage a dog's internal organs and could be fatal.How fast does take for a dogs fever last? ›
This should resolve itself in 24 -48 hours but you'll want to carefully monitor your pet to make sure the fever breaks.Can you tell if a dog has a fever by touch? ›
Dog fevers can be very difficult to detect at home and are often discovered at the veterinary office. This is because a dog's temperature is naturally higher than a human's, and it is almost impossible to detect a fever by touching a dog's skin.
A dog with a fever will have a temperature of 103 degrees F or higher, and he will often show symptoms such as panting, lethargy or acting tired, and shivering. His ears may feel hot and be red. If the fever is related to illness you might notice other signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing.How much Tylenol can I give my dog for fever? ›
How much Tylenol can I give my dog? A commonly-used dose of Tylenol for dogs is 5 to 7 mg per pound of body weight two times daily. This should only be given under the direction and recommendation of a veterinarian.How can I check my dog's temperature without a thermometer? ›
- Feel your dog's ears and paws. Dogs have a slightly higher temperature than humans, so his ears and paws should only be slightly warmer than your hands. ...
- Feel and check your dog's nose. ...
- Check your dog's gums. ...
- Feel your dog's groin area and armpits.
A cool compress wrapped in a towel can be placed in some areas of your dog's body to lower their temperature. Some of the target areas to place ice packs are your dog's belly, paw pads, and armpits. Make sure that your furry companion is staying hydrated and if they are refusing water, offer some ice chips.Can dogs get random fevers? ›
In dogs, the most common causes of fever of unknown origin are infections, immune-mediated diseases, and cancer.What viruses cause fever in dogs? ›
- Diskospondylitis (infection in the spine)
- Pyelonephritis (kidney infection)
- Lyme Disease.
The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals during close contact. Pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. The risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is low.What human meds can you give dogs for pain? ›
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be safe when carefully dosed and used short term. ...
- Aspirin—specifically buffered baby aspirin—can be safe when dosed carefully but is not as safe or effective as prescription medications.
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) is toxic to dogs and should never be used.
While for humans gabapentin is used to treat partial seizures, nerve pain, and restless leg syndrome, for dogs it is used to treat seizures, anxiety, and nerve pain. It works by blocking calcium channels in the brain to suppress overly stimulated neurons that cause anxiety, nerve pain, and seizures.Is there an OTC anti inflammatory for dogs? ›
No over-the-counter NSAIDs for dogs and cats are FDA-approved. Any NSAID marketed for dogs or cats online or in a pet store without the need for a prescription from a veterinarian is an unapproved animal drug, meaning FDA has not reviewed information about the drug.
To take your dog's temperature, first coat the thermometer with a lubricant such as petroleum gel or baby oil. Next, gently insert the thermometer about one inch into your dog's anus and wait for results. Most thermometers sold for this purpose will take less than 60 seconds to register.Can dogs take baby aspirin? ›
While you can use human baby aspirin as recommended by your vet, aspirin made for dogs is typically a better option. Human aspirin has a coating on it that helps to protect the human stomach from irritation. Your dog cannot digest this coating, so the medication may not provide the desired effects.Can I give my dog fever reducer ibuprofen? ›
Never give your pet an over-the-counter medication without consulting your veterinarian. Ibuprofen and Tylenol can be toxic for your pet.How do you know when your dog is in pain? ›
What are the typical signs of pain in dogs? General behaviour: Shaking, flattened ears, low posture, aggression, grumpy temperament, panting or crying, excessive licking or scratching a specific area, reluctant to play, interact or exercise, lameness (limping), stiffness after rest, loss of appetite.Can I give my dog Benadryl for pain? ›
If the source of your dog's pain is an allergic reaction, there's one human-grade drug that can be administered with confidence: Benadryl. Veterinarians regularly give dogs a dose of this antihistamine when experiencing a minor allergic reaction.How many Tylenol can a dog take? ›
The correct dosage of Tylenol is around 10 mg per kg of body weight every 12 hours. Some sources claim that you can give your dog up to 30 mg per kg for a short period. Recommended dosages are different for every dog, so you're best off checking with your veterinarian before giving your dog Tylenol.What is an undiagnosed fever in dogs? ›
The normal body temperature range for dogs is between 100.5°F and 102.5°F (38.1°C and 39.2°C). To be classified as a fever of unknown origin (FUO), the body temperature must be above 103.5°F (39.7°C) for longer than a few days in duration, with no obvious underlying cause based on history and physical examination.Do dogs breathe faster with fever? ›
Dog breathing fast causes
Causes of tachypnea include lower-respiratory issues such as bronchitis or fluid on the lungs and non-respiratory issues such as anaemia, heart disease and bloat. In some cases, tachypnea is also brought on by the likes of stress, fear, heat or fever.
The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs are:
- Red or glassy-looking eyes.
- Warm ears and/or nose.
- Runny nose.
- Decreased energy.
- Loss of appetite.
The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs are: Red or glassy-looking eyes. Warm ears and/or nose. Shivering.
Warm ears: Warm ears in dogs can indicate that they have a higher body temperature.What if my dog ate 500 mg Tylenol? ›
Signs of toxicity from acetaminophen may develop within 1–4 hours of ingestion. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage or decrease the red blood cell's ability to carry oxygen (methemoglobinemia). Dogs may become depressed or weak, with rapid breathing, a high heart rate, panting, abdominal pain, vomiting or drooling.Can I give my dog Benadryl? ›
Benadryl is a great medication for use in dogs with mild-to-moderate allergies. Seasonal allergies, food allergies, environmental allergies, and allergic reactions to snake and insect bites all respond to Benadryl in most cases.Do dogs ears feel warm when they have a fever? ›
Signs of a fever can include a warm and dry nose, red eyes, lack of energy, warm ears, and shivering. However, the only sure way to tell if your dog has a fever is to take their temperature. Keep in mind that a dog's normal temperature is warmer than humans.Can a human use a dog thermometer? ›
The answer, according to Dr. Stephanie Liff of Pure Paws Veterinary Care, is yes. “These thermometers can definitely be used for people,” she says. Typically, pet thermometers are either rectal or in-ear, but Dr.What does it mean when a dog's body feels hot? ›
Fever can be described as a high body temperature due to infection or inflammation. Since dogs have body temperatures that are naturally higher than humans, fevers can often go undetected. The normal body temperature for canines is between 101 and 102.5 F, and if it rises to over 103 F it can be considered fever.What do dogs act like when they have a fever? ›
A dog with a fever will have a temperature of 103 degrees F or higher, and he will often show symptoms such as panting, lethargy or acting tired, and shivering. His ears may feel hot and be red. If the fever is related to illness you might notice other signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing.How do I know if my dog has a fever from infection? ›
The most common symptoms of a fever in dogs are:
- Red or glassy-looking eyes.
- Warm ears and/or nose.
- Runny nose.
- Decreased energy.
- Loss of appetite.
The normal body temperature range for dogs is between 100.5°F and 102.5°F (38.1°C and 39.2°C). To be classified as a fever of unknown origin (FUO), the body temperature must be above 103.5°F (39.7°C) for longer than a few days in duration, with no obvious underlying cause based on history and physical examination.Does a dog feel warm to touch if they have a fever? ›
Their temperatures can also vary throughout the day, so you should know your dog's baseline temperature before they get sick. While you might think you can tell if your dog has a fever by touching their nose or any other part of their body and seeing if it feels warmer than normal, that method simply isn't accurate.
Canine parvovirus has been identified as the illness that has killed dozens of dogs in the last month in the northern and central parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, state officials said Wednesday.How can I tell if my dog has Covid? ›
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Lethargy (unusual lack of energy or sluggishness)
- Runny nose.
- Eye discharge.
Most Common Bacterial Infections in Dogs
Symptoms of leptospirosis may include fever, lethargy, depression, vomiting, and redness of the mucous membranes. In the case of serious infection, a dog can develop kidney inflammation, which can result in permanent damage to the kidney.
This should resolve itself in 24 -48 hours but you'll want to carefully monitor your pet to make sure the fever breaks.What are common signs of infection in dogs? ›
Itching, rashes, patchy hair loss, scabs or crusting on the skin can all be signs of infection – and it's important to get veterinary treatment fast to avoid the condition worsening.How do you tell if something is infected on a dog? ›
- Pus (white, green or yellow liquid)
- Bleeding easily.