Wellness

15 min

How to Tell If Your Dog Has A Fever & What To Do

Fevers are often a sign your dog is unwell. However, it is often difficult to figure out why. Discover why your dog has a fever and what to do about it.

Bridget Reed

Updated September 01, 2022 • Published December 08, 2021

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How to Tell If Your Dog Has A Fever & What To Do

As a pet owner, there is nothing quite as concerning as when your pet appears to have fallen ill. Nevertheless, since dogs are unable to speak about their condition, you might have to do some investigative work to figure out what exactly is causing your dog distress.

If your dog has any signs of illness or fever, it is essential that you promptly figure out what is going on. Unfortunately, sometimes symptoms for different conditions overall, which means that discovering what is wrong with your pet can be hard. 

If you are concerned for any reason that your dog might be experiencing a fever, there are several things that you need to know. First, you should get an understanding of what could potentially cause a fever in dogs. 

There are a variety of different culprits, and if your dog has a fever, they could be suffering from any of these. Figuring out which might be the cause can be helpful when vets attempt to treat them.

In addition, as a responsible pet owner, you should be well-versed in learning about the symptoms of a fever. This is essential because if your pet was experiencing this, you would know what to look out for so you could get them appropriate and prompt treatment. And that’s the final thing you will learn more about when you read this article: How you can help treat your pet if they have fallen ill with a fever.

What causes a fever in a dog?

There are several main reasons that dogs could potentially get a fever. If you have a suspicion that one of these could potentially be the cause of your dog’s fever, you should reach out to a trusted vet and let them know. Then, they can work with you to figure out what your next steps should be.

Some common causes of fever in dogs are as follows: 

Infection

One common culprit for fever in dogs is infection. Any sort of inflammation or infection can lead your dog to experience a fever because their body is working hard to fight it off. These infections can be either internal or external. Infections can range from Parvo to a lower urinary tract infection

Toxins

Unfortunately, toxins could also be the blame for your pet’s fever. If your pet ingested any poisonous materials, the fever is a sign telling you that something is not right. Some toxic materials include antifreeze, human medications, toxic plants, and human foods that dogs are unable to eat due to toxicity

Vaccinations

Similar to humans, it is not unheard of for pets to experience fever 24-48 hours after they get a vaccination. The fever, in this case, is typically low-grade. Vaccine side effects are minor when compared to the disease they are preventing.

While this side effect situation will usually resolve itself within about a day, you should still be diligent and keep an eye out. It’s also usually not dangerous, but reach out to a vet if you are concerned

Unknown origins

Unfortunately, sometimes you will not know what on earth could have possibly caused your pet to experience a fever. Especially in these situations, it is necessary that you get a vet to check your pet out to figure out what’s causing the fever and listen to their suggested course of action. 

What are the symptoms of fevers in dogs?

In order to begin treating your dog for this condition, you need to notice their symptoms and conclude that they might be suffering from a fever. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of a dog fever is essential for all pet owners. 

Lethargy

Lethargy certainly is a symptom of a fever, but sometimes, the fever itself is a symptom of a greater medical problem. In addition, it is important to remember that just because your dog seems more lethargic than usual, they are not necessarily experiencing a fever. 

However, if you notice this in conjunction with other symptoms listed, you should certainly draw these to the attention of a vet. No matter what, if your pet is routinely lethargic, it’s a good idea to figure out why this is occurring to ensure nothing is medically wrong with your pet. 

Red eyes

Red eyes could also potentially indicate that your pet has a fever. Sometimes you will notice that your pet’s eyes are red in addition to other symptoms that suggest they are unwell. 

Even if you’re unsure the redness is being caused by a fever, getting a vet to take a look at your pet is wise because you should figure out what is causing this redness. This could be due to allergies, influenza, distemper, pink eye, infection, or irritation. 

Depression

Observe your pet’s mood; if they seem to be more depressed than they usually are, this could be a telltale sign that something medically is wrong. If this appears in addition to any other symptoms, there is a chance that fever is to blame for causing your pet’s depressed mood. Depression and fever are symptoms occasionally tied to a tick bite infection

Warm, dry nose

Your dog’s nose can help clue you in that something is not quite right with your pet. If their nose is warm and dry as opposed to moist and cool, you might consider the fact that there could be something wrong with your pet — such as fever. 

Vomiting

In some instances, your pet’s fever will be accompanied by vomiting. This is another way that you can figure out that your pet has a fever. There are varying causes for this, including that your pet either ingested something that made them ill or they have a virus. 

When your pet is vomiting, there is the fear of dehydration, so you will want to ensure that your pet has the liquids that they need to stay hydrated throughout their recovery. 

Coughing

There are a myriad of reasons why dogs could be coughing, such as Kennel Cough. However, it’s unlikely that a dog suffering from Kennel Cough will also have a fever. Nevertheless, a cough can sometimes accompany fever. 

Lack of appetite

If your dog never turns down a treat and suddenly won’t look at food, there could be a reason to be concerned. Just because your dog is demonstrating a lack of appetite does not necessarily mean that your pet has a fever.

However, if this disinterest in food is coupled with other symptoms mentioned, it could suggest this. If your pet is not drinking or eating as they typically would, you can never go wrong by taking them to a vet to figure out why. 

Shivering

Lastly, shivering could suggest that your pet has a fever. Sometimes, pets shiver because they are frigid, such as when they first come inside after a potty break outside in the snow during winter. 

But if your dog isn’t cold and is still shivering, you might have reason to be concerned. If you think your pet is shivering from a fever, you should make sure that they are not too warm. 

How should I care for my dog?

There are plenty of ways that you can care for your dog if you fear that they are experiencing a fever. Of course, if you are concerned about their welfare, it’s in both your — and their — best interest to get to a vet so they can suggest the proper way to care for your pet.

Here’s what you need to know:

Put cold compresses around their paws and ears

If your dog has a fever, you can place cold compresses around their eyes and ears, too. This step will help get your pet’s temperature down. Just be mindful that these compresses are not too cold for your pet. 

Give them cold water to drink

Cool water needs to be accessible to a dog that is recovering from a fever. If your dog will not drink any cold water when you offer it, you can also provide them with some ice chips to chomp on. If your dog will not drink at all, and will not eat ice chips, reach out to your vet to express your concerns about dehydration. 

Provide a restful environment

Your pet will need rest and relaxation. Creating a calming place for them to regain their strength will prove helpful in their recovery process. Make sure they’re in a room with good airflow, the right temperature, and they have a comfortable place, such as their bed, to rest. 

Their restful environment should also be close to you, so you can keep a mindful eye on their recovery. Also, there should always be water accessible for your pet, so don’t forget this when you are creating their restful environment. 

Never give them human medication

It is never wise to provide your dog with human medication when they are experiencing a fever. Human medications are actually one of the potential causes of a fever, as they are toxic to pets.

Therefore, you should never administer one to your pet. If you fear they could have snuck one anyway, reach out to a vet as soon as you can. 

Monitor them closely

Both for your peace of mind and your pet’s sake, you should keep a close eye on them. It’s important for your pet to rest, but you should never leave them to their own devices to do so. Provide love and support through the recovery process. 

When should I talk to my vet?

If you are concerned about your pet’s wellbeing, then you should surely speak to your vet. The reality is that there is never a wrong time to speak to a vet. It will help calm your nerves, give you peace of mind, and they can help you create a comprehensive recovery plan for your pet. A vet will also be able to advise if professional medical attention is necessary and any in-office procedures will need to be done.

A fever can be officially confirmed with a canine thermometer. Pawp veterinarian Dr. Sylvalyn Hammond discusses taking your dog’s temperature, “A rectal temperature will always give the most reliable reading in dogs and cats. Providing a tempting treat, such as peanut butter can help distract them while the temperature check is performed. For pets who greatly protest a rectal thermometer, purchasing an ear thermometer is the next best option.”

If you have difficulty with this, the best step is to visit your veterinarian for assistance.

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If your dog isn’t feeling well and you are worried that they are feverish, there are some symptoms you should keep an eye out for. If you need anything from a second opinion or advice on when to take your dog to see your veterinarian, reach out to Pawp. Pawp has a 24/7 team of licensed and highly skilled vets who can help provide care whenever your pet needs it.  

Providing your pet with the correct care is also essential when they are dealing with a fever to ensure that your pup makes a complete recovery.

DOG FEVER SOURCES: 

Canine Parvovirus | Cornell University

Urinary Tract Infections | US National Library of Medicine 

Adverse consequences of vaccination | US National Library of Medicine

Clinical Presentation, Convalescence, and Relapse of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs Experimentally Infected via Tick Bite | Plos One

A study of dogs with kennel cough | PubMed

Comparing alternatives to canine rectal thermometry at the axillary, auricular and ocular locations | US National Library of Medicine 

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