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Does Your Dog have a Fever -Taking Your Dog's Temperature

A lot of owners believe they can tell whether their dog has a fever by touching his nose. Cool and wet means he is okay, dry and hot means a high temperature. However it is really that easy and this means sometimes a dog's fever is not even noticed by his owner. That is because your dog's natural healthy temperature is actually higher than yours so it is harder to determine just by touching his nose whether there is a rise. Here we offer some advice on symptoms to look for, what might be causing it and what to do if he has a fever.


What is a Fever for a Dog and What Causes it?

Dogs have a normal temperature of between 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit whereas people fall between 97.6 and 99.6. So sometimes we think our dogs may have a fever when in fact they are fine. So for a dog, a fever, which means a body temperature that is higher due to inflammation or infection falls around 103 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Sometimes your dog can have a higher temperature due to external conditions like a hot climate or excessive exercise when it is humid, this is not a fever but is called heat stroke or hyperthermia. If your dog's body temperature should reach 106F this is serious and potentially fatal complications could arise.

There are a number of causes that could lead to your dog having a fever such as;

Infection including fungal, viral and bacterial diseases which can occur anywhere in the body. Symptoms will vary then depending on where the infection is.

Vaccination can cause a low grade fever for a day or two afterward due to the body's immune system reacting to the drug.

Toxins and poisonous substances when consumed by the dog can cause a fever too.

FUO or fever of unknown origin can also happen where it is not obvious what causes the fever the most likely cause of which are bone marrow problems, immune system disorders, cancers ad undiagnosed infections.

Fever Symptoms

Symptoms can really vary depending on the cause of the fever but the fever itself can include symptoms of;



No appetite


Nasal discharge



How to Take Your Dog's Temperature

The best way to have an accurate measurement of your dog's body temperature is to take a rectal reading. Do not use a thermometer meant for people, there are digital thermometers designed for dogs that you should use. First of all use rubbing alcohol to clean the thermometer then make sure you coat the thermometer in a lubricant so you do not cause him pain. Baby oil or petroleum gel are fine to use. Then lift up his tail and gently push the thermometer into his anus until it is one inch in and wait for the thermometer to beep with the results. You may want to have a second person with you holding him and comforting him while you are taking the reading if he shows distress. Make sure you clean the thermometer with very warm water and soap.

It should take under 60 seconds to get a reading. If it is 103F or more your dog does have a fever. If it is between 103 and 105.5 make an appointment with your vet, if it is getting close to or it over 106 this an emergency situation and you need immediate help for your dog. If it is over 105F there are some things you can do to help bring his temperature down as you would in a person with a high fever. Apply cool water to his fur particularly around his paws and ears. Turn a fan on him while he is damp to help further. Monitor his temperature again as you take steps to cool him to see if it is effective. When he reaches 103F stop doing this.

A dog with a fever should also be kept hydrated as dehydration can happen easily. Try to get him to tale small laps of water regularly but do not force him. Do not under any circumstance administer human medications.

More Tips on Taking Your Dog's Temperature

You need to stay calm and be relaxed so that your dog also stays calm. Owners who are anxious or nervous signal this to their dog who then also become anxious too.

Do not push the thermometer too far in the rectum this can cause harm and pain.

Do not push the thermometer too quickly in as with the lubricant it is too easy to go too far.


Having a cord tied to the top end of the thermometer may be an idea in case it goes in too deeply and you need to retrieve it quickly.

Human thermometers are not appropriate because of the mercury.

While there are ear thermometers for dogs on the market they are not recommended as they just are not as accurate as rectal ones.

If your dog is restless, scared, or hyper active this is not the right time to take his temperature. Be patient and wait until he calms down.

Do not insert a thermometer without the use of lubricant.

Avoid getting angry at him or telling him off. If he will not let you do it take him to the vet and he or she will do it for you.