Fever in Dogs

When a dog’s temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, they are considered to have a fever. There are things that you can do at home naturally to help your pet feel better. It is very important though, that you take your dog to a vet if the temperature persists. A temperature of 106 degrees or higher can damage a pet’s internal organs and can be fatal. You must never wait until that point. Educate yourself about the causes and symptoms of fevers in dogs to recognize when your dog needs a vet.

Why does my dog have a fever?

An infection or inflammation can cause your furry buddy to develop a fever. Some of the conditions that might lead to a fever include a contaminated bite, scratch or cut, an ear infection, a urinary tract infection (UTI), and an abscessed tooth. As the body tries to fight off these invasions, a dog’s body temperature will rise and they may become feverish. 

Infection of the organs, such as kidneys or lungs, an ongoing bacterial or viral disease, or ingestion of something poisonous could also cause a fever. Some poisonous materials that could lead to a fever in your pet are toxic plants, antifreeze, human medications and human foods that are toxic to dogs, including the artificial sweetener xylitol. As is the case with people, vaccinations can also cause a fever in dogs.

Check your dog’s temperature

Unlike people, who have a temperature range of 97.6 to 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a dog’s normal temperature is higher, between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A very popular way to check if your dog has a fever is by feeling their nose. Usually, if it’s wet and cold you would think your dog is fine and if their nose is hot and dry, you assume your dog has a fever. 

While it’s alright to do this, it may not be enough to determine whether your dog indeed has a fever or not. The most accurate way to check your dog’s temperature is with a rectal or ear thermometer. You can find digital thermometers made just for pets in many stores. These kinds of thermometers can register your dog’s temperature in about 60 seconds, which helps cut down the amount of discomfort that your dog will feel.

Cool your dog down

You can naturally reduce your dog’s fever by trying to cool them down at home. The first thing to do is to apply cool water around the paws and ears. You can do this with a soaked towel or cloth. You can continue to do this until their temperature drops below 103 degrees. At this point, you can encourage your dog to drink some water. You can do this a few times a day, or as it seems necessary. Of course, if the high temperature returns, reconsider taking your dog to the vet to be on the safe side.

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. Broth is an alternative to water that also has nutritional properties. Cool, unsalted chicken broth can be added to your pup's food as an encouragement to have a small meal and some liquid.

Another thing you can do to lower your pet’s temperature is to give your dog a cool bath. Place your pet in a cool, but not cold, bath for a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 minutes. This should help to lower their temperature.

Strengthen Your Dog’s Immune System

A fever is an indication that your dog’s immune system is working hard against whatever is causing the fever. There are herbs and vitamins that you can supplement with to help strengthen your dog’s immune system.

  • Echinacea is an excellent herb for boosting the immune system and fight off low-grade infections
  • Vitamin C is effective for building the immune system and although dogs produce it naturally, when a dog is sick, stores may be depleted
  • Vitamin E can also be given once a day to help boost the immune system
  • Probiotics improve healthy gut flora
  • Omega-3s, like fish oils, fight inflammation

When a dog has a fever, it is always best to consult the veterinarian. However, you can attempt to make your pet comfortable until the appointment. Then, find out what is behind the fever because the cause may be an underlying condition that must be treated with prescribed medicine.

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