When our dogs are ill, it can be hard to tell since they can’t talk directly to us. Fevers can be even trickier than most since much of the reaction we associate with them like a flushed face and profuse sweating simply aren’t present in our pets. If you’re asking yourself “Does my Dog have a Fever?” and if Yes, "what is normal dog temperature?" then we can show you exactly how to determine it. We’re here to help, after all.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need a few things in order to follow all of the instructions in this article, luckily most of them are quite easy to obtain even on short notice:
Undoubtedly the most important part of any canine health issue is going to be your veterinarian. As soon as you confirm a fever, it’s time to call them and inform them of the temperature and make an appointment. There’s no real alternative to a good animal doc, and follow their advice to the letter.
There are two types of thermometers generally available for dogs: rectal and ear thermometers
Rectal thermometers are generally regarded as more accurate, but they can be uncomfortable to use for both you and your dog as well as requiring a lubricant in order to ease the process.
Ear thermometers are a fine alternative if you’re squeamish or have a particularly jumpy dog. Every pet owner should have at least one thermometer around for specifically this situation.
You can improvise a compress pretty easily if you don’t have one appropriately sized for your animal. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to mix three parts water and one part rubbing alcohol in a plastic bag and throw it in the freezer. You can work on getting your dog cooled down in other ways in the meantime.
In this case, absolutely DO NOT substitute anything for aspirin. Naproxen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen and the rest of the NSAID family can all be extremely dangerous for your animal and far from helping they’re likely to just make things worse.
1. Check for Symptoms
The first thing to do is look for some of the common symptoms which can be caused by a fever within your dog.
Some of the common symptoms for a dog which has a fever include:
If you observe any of these signs, then you can be assured that your dog is sick at the very least and is likely running a fever to boot. Fevers are almost invariably caused by some kind of infection, so now it’s time to confirm that your dog has a fever.
2. The Nose Knows
The first step, before you have to go and get anything more specialized to check is to touch your dog’s nose. Ideally, a dog’s nose is moist, and a bit clammy as most owners already know well enough.
If your dog’s nose is dry and warm, then you can be assured that your poor pup is beginning a fever at the very least, if not already feeling the effects of one. This may be something minor, or you may be looking at a serious problem.
Just because your dog’s nose feels normal doesn’t mean they aren’t harboring an infection. If you suspect that your pet is ill due to other symptoms, you’ll want to take their temperature anyways.
3. Get the Thermometer
When it comes to your dog, there're a few different types of thermometer available. Which one you go with will depend on what you have available at the moment, remember that the feeling you get with your hand is only a guideline that it’s time to take their temperature and not an accurate guide.
Your dog’s normal temperature should be running around 100°F to 102.5°F in either the ears or the rectum. If it’s more than a couple of degrees above this, it’s time to see a vet but if your dog is only running 104°F or less you can start with the home remedies.
4. Cold Compress
Cold compresses are probably the first line of defense you’ll want to apply. Another thing you may want to attempt is applying rubbing alcohol to the pads of their paws, but make sure that they don’t lick it off as isopropyl alcohol is quite toxic.
This should help to get your dog’s temperature under control, so be sure to monitor their temperature. It can be a bit hard to hold your dog still during this process, so get them comfortable in your lap or by your side and place the compress on their head.
If this fails to control the temperature, or if your dog’s temperature is higher than 104°F then there're more drastic options you can begin to apply while you wait for your appointment with the veterinarian.
5. Cool Bath
Giving your dog a cool bath is also a great way to lower their core temperature. Don’t go too cold, as it can give your ill dog something of a shock, a bit colder than room temperature is fine. This is mostly a stop-gap measure before you take your dog to the vet.
If your dog is particularly large or unruly, you may have to resort to using a garden hose. This is particularly for larger dogs with heavy hair, as it will keep them cooled off until they dry.
The goal here isn’t to give your dog a chill, so if it’s cold outside take them back in as you prepare your vehicle to get them to the vet. There’s one more thing you might want to try as well before you go.
It can’t be emphasized enough that you need to call your veterinarian before you attempt this. If you are foolhardy enough to try it on your own, find a dosage calculator and be extremely careful about the dosage. Too much can cause some serious harm to your pet.
One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot replace it with just any NSAID. Under no circumstances try to replace the aspirin with ibuprofen, naproxen, or any other drug in the same family as these can cause serious harm to your dog.
Your vet should be able to give you a dosage range, and may prescribe it after a visit but this isn’t a step to take lightly as too much can cause irreversible kidney damage or even death.
7. Get to the Vet’s Office
Once your appointment rolls around, it’s time to load your dog up and get to the vet. If you don’t already have a primary veterinarian for your dog, pay close attention to how they treat your animal in case they might be someone you want to use in the future.
It can be helpful to have a friend to keep a cool compress on the dog until you arrive if the fever is particularly high, and if you gave your dog a cool bath immediately before leaving you’ll want to lay down some towels.
A good vet will be able to tell you what’s going on, and tell you what to do with your dog now that the two of you are in the office. Just like you would with your doctor, make sure to follow their instructions whatever they may be and you should be back on your way to a healthy, happy pet.
8. Follow Your Vet’s Instructions
At this point, you should know why your animal is sick and what you need to do. Take your veterinarian’s suggestions seriously and you’ll be back on the way to having a canine in fantastic health in no time. They’re the professionals after all.
In most cases, a fever will just be an indicator of something relatively minor and not life threatening so don’t panic when your dog is ill. Colds, ear infections, and other minor sickness occur in our pets just like they do in us, and they’re relatively easy to take care of.
Remember to give your dog some treats and to be extra nice while they recover. That little bit of care is the final ingredient in returning your dog to the bouncing ball of fur he was before his illness.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide, and answered the question of how to tell if my dog has a fever. It’s always a stressful time when our animals fall ill, but with the proper care we can make them feel better and keep ourselves assured that they’ll be well soon enough. Remember that the remedies above are intended only as a measure to get your dog through until their visit to the vet, although a minor fevers may be handled quite efficiently at home.
Did you have any questions? Comments? Then leave us a comment below!