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3 min read

Can Dogs Get a Chill?


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Most of us are no stranger to the feeling of coldness that comes with getting sick. While shivering can be caused by many things, “chills” usually stem from a fever taking hold of your body. Viral or bacterial infections anywhere in the body can lead to chills, which may come and go over a period of time. These chills can be extreme enough that they actually cause your whole body to shake! But do our four-legged family members suffer from the same symptom?

While your dog may not be able to tell you that they are feeling unusually chilly, they definitely can experience chills! A dog may shake uncontrollably before an episode of sickness likely diarrhea or vomiting. Chills that won't go away may indicate that the illness is more serious, and a trip to the vet is needed. Smaller breeds and pups with short hair are especially prone to chills, as their temperature may drop faster than their bigger, furrier counterparts.

Does My Dog Have a Chill?

Is your dog fighting an infection? Or are they just overly excited? It can be hard to tell at first, but keeping an eye on these symptoms can help you make the call.

If the shivering just won't seem to go away, this is a big red flag that there are more serious problems at play. Shaking that is accompanied by nausea, seizures, or other obvious bouts of sickness merits a vet appointment.

Chills are caused by an internal reaction to something in the body. While mild poisoning or intolerance will lead to an isolated case of shivering, viral and bacterial infections can cause prolonged chills in a dog.

A veterinarian will help determine the underlying reason that your dog is shaking by performing tests. Blood tests, urine tests and a basic physical examination will likely reveal the underlying issue at hand.

If you're looking for more info on the signs to watch for, head over to: Fever in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Chills?

A dog suffering from chills can not simply be warmed up. You will need to see your veterinarian for any lasting solution.

Chills often mean that your dog actually has an abnormally high temperature. Applying a cold compress can help lower the body temperature back to safe numbers. If your dog has an infection, they will need a course of antibiotics and, in extreme cases, may even need intravenous fluids to rehydrate properly.

In most cases, appropriate veterinary care will lead to the fever breaking, causing your dog's temperature to go down and the chills to cease. More serious infections may take weeks or even months to fully treat.

How are Chills in Dogs Similar to Those in Humans?

A lot of the signs of a chill are the same in both dogs and humans. Things to watch for include:

  • Shivering or shaking

  • Lethargy

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

  • High temperature

How are Chills in Dogs Different from Those in Humans?

A few of the symptoms that dogs experience are a bit different than the ones people face. Differences to note are:

  • Panting - A dog with a chill will pant heavily to cool down, which is something humans do not do

  • Nasal Discharge - Dogs with fevers often experience this unpleasant symptom that is not as common in humans

  • A dog with no shivering is unable to tell their owner that they feel colder, while a human may easily tell this to a doctor

Case Study

Properly treating an infection can get rid of any unpleasant chills in your dog. One Border Collie was experiencing chronic fevers and bouts of chills. After being examined by her vet, she was prescribed antibiotics. The symptoms of fever went away almost instantly once the antibiotics were given, leading to a healthy pup once more.

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