Dogs naturally have higher body temperature than humans. Feeling your dog’s tummy and comparing it to yours can immediately give you the impression of how hot their body can get.
Fever as we all know refers to the sudden increase in body temperature. In humans, fever is a very common illness. In most cases, it is caused by infection which is sometimes the same case with dogs.
What is the Average Body Temperature of a Dog?
A dog’s average temperature is 102.5°F (39.2°C), warmer than the human average of 98.6°F (37°C). For dogs, increase in body heat is normal when outside temperature changes or as they do more activities like exercise or play. A cause for concern is when your dog’s temperature is above 103°F (39.4°C).
Difference Between Fever and Hyperthermia
A Fever is an increase in body temperature as a result of infection or inflammation. It could also be a result of an underlying sickness and poisonous food consumption.
Hyperthermia is an increase in body temperature as a result of a hot outside temperature or physical activities such as exercising. Being exposed to extreme heat of humidity can cause heat stroke which is a form of hyperthermia.
Causes of Dog Fever
Underlying/Recurring Sickness –If the temperature is above 103°F, you may need to check your dog’s medical history for underlying sickness such as Ehrlichia or Distemper that can be causing the fever.
Consumption of Poisonous Food/Materials – Another possible cause is the consumption of poisonous food/materials. Check if your dog recently ate/chew the following:
- Food: Chocolate, Onions, Grapes, Raisins, Alcohol or Mouldy Food.
- Cleaning Materials: Detergents, Dishwasher Soap, Bleach, Pesticides or Rat Food Bait
- Garden: Flowers, Fungi or Plants
- Pests: Rats, Worms or Cockroaches
Infection – A dog’s body temperature rises as a response to inflammation or to fight off infection. The most common dog infections are infected scratch or bite, UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), ear infection & fungal infections.
Vaccination – A dog’s immune system often respond to vaccination with a low-grade fever which may take up to 48 hours. It is important to monitor your dog’s body temperature after vaccination. Seek medical help if your dog still has fever after 2 days.
Most Common Signs of Dog Fever
Loss of appetite
Lack of energy
Dry nose with nasal discharge
Gums is swollen and red (not pink)
Swollen lymph nodes in groin/armpit area
Back of ears is warm
Paws are very hot to touch
If you notice any of the signs above, your dog might have a fever. It is important to take action to help lower your dog’s body temperature then seek immediate medical help from your veterinarian.
Dog Fever Home Treatments and Remedies
- First things first, check your dog’s temperature. Here’s how:
- Use a digital rectal thermometer
- Apply lubricant like petroleum jelly or coconut oil to the tip of the thermometer
- Insert about an inch of the tip of the thermometer in your dog’s anus
- Wait for a few seconds for the result
- If the temperature is higher than average, make sure you do the following to keep your dog comfortable:
- Apply cool water to the fur, especially around your dog’s ears and feet
- Put a fan in front of the damped fur
- Use ice packs
- Make sure your dog is hydrated
- Feed your dog ice cubes
- Monitor your dog’s temperature once in a while. You don’t want to bring down the temperature too fast. Your dog may experience hypothermia if the temperature drops down too fast and too low.
- If there’s loss of appetite, try mixing appetite stimulant food to your dog’s regular food like soft fruits, boiled chicken, honey or coconut oil
- If your dog has underlying sickness such as Ehrlichia (which maybe causing the fever), your dog’s platelet count could get lower than the average. Herbal medicines such as Euphorbia Pilulifera (pill-bearing spurge) can help increase the platelet count.
- Never treat your dog with human medicines without the instruction of your veterinarian.
It’s important to take note of all the signs or whether your dog have ingested something toxic. Take note also of when you first noticed the fever. These are very helpful information to your veterinarian. Physical and diagnostic tests will most likely be carried out to further establish the cause of the fever.