The normal temperature of a dog is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog's temperature is beyond this range, then the dog may have a fever. Generally, 103 degrees F is considered a “dog fever.”
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Typically, fever in dogs occurs as a dog body's response to fighting an “invader.” However, dogs that are very excited or stressed may also have a slightly elevated temperature. Hyperthermia (heat stroke) is also a condition that can result in extremely elevated body temperature after the animal has overexerted themselves in hot or humid conditions.
If your dog’s temperature reaches 106 F, this is considered a serious and potentially fatal condition where other complications can occur – take them to the vet immediately.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has a Fever?
Never rely on feeling your dog’s nose to tell whether it has a fever. The old “wives tale” stating that a “dog's cold wet nose is healthy, while a warm dry nose means a fever” is simply is not true.
In fact, dog fevers often go undetected or they will be only recognized when other symptoms present themselves. The surest way to tell your dog has a fever is with a thermometer. If you spot any possible signs of fever in your dog, take his temperature, just in case.
Possible Symptoms of a Dog Fever
There are no definite signs of a fever in the canine species; however, the below symptoms can accompany an elevated temperature in dogs.
- Loss of appetite
- Nasal discharge
The types of fever symptoms your pet exhibits will greatly depend on the underlying cause of the fever.
Why Does My Dog Have a Fever?
Three most common conditions that often cause fever in dogs are:
Infection: these can be viral, bacterial, or fungal. Infections can occur anywhere in the body (including the major organs) or from lacerations.
Vaccinations – A low-grade fever is not uncommon after your dog has been inoculated. This type of fever may occur from 24 to 48 hours after the injection.
Toxins – If a dog has ingested something poisonous to its system (even food) then it can experience fever in response to the toxins.
Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO). There's also types of fevers that are not obvious and may be caused by conditions like cancer, bone marrow issues, immune system conditions, or undiagnosed infections.
Taking Your Dog’s Temperature
The best and most accurate way to tell if your dog has a fever is to take your pet's temperature using a thermometer. To do this, you will need a digital rectal thermometer. While there are some pet-specific ones, you don't necessarily need them – a “human” thermometer will do the job just as well (just remember not to use it yourself after).
Before you take your dog’s temperature, coat the thermometer with petroleum jelly – this will help with the insertion.
With someone holding your dog, lift your pup's tail and gently insert the thermometer into their anus, about 1 inch – then wait for the reading.
The length of time it takes to obtain a reading will depend on the model of your thermometer. Be sure to read the manual before starting the process.
If your dog’s temperature is 103 F or higher, get them to the veterinarian right away for a full check-up, diagnosis and treatment plan.
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