Measure and Treat Fever in Dogs Correctly

Read here how to take your dog’s temperature correctly and what to do if he has a fever.

It is usually difficult to tell whether a dog has a fever or not. Certainly, there are some clear indications that this is the case. Nevertheless, you can only reliably tell if your dog really has a fever with a thermometer.

So that you can measure your dog’s temperature correctly and act accordingly, you will find the answers to these questions here:

When does a dog have a fever?
Which thermometer is suitable for measuring fever in dogs?
How do you measure a dog’s temperature?
How do you know if a dog has a fever?
What to do if the dog has a fever?
What causes fever in dogs?

When does a dog have a fever?

In dogs, the normal body temperature is 37.5 to 39 degrees. This makes it slightly higher than that of humans. From 40 degrees one speaks of fever in dogs. It becomes life-threatening for the dog at a temperature of 41 degrees.

Note: The dog’s body temperature is lowest in the morning. It can increase slightly with some activities, such as the

  • Dog sport
  • Long stay in the sun
  • Drive
  • Romping around
  • Wolf down

Tip: Take your dog’s temperature at least one hour after these activities. This way you get an exact measurement result.

Fever in puppies

Puppies have a slightly higher body temperature than adult dogs. It is between 38 and 39.5 degrees. If the temperature rises above 39.5 degrees, the puppy has a fever. The signs of fever and the causes can be the same as in adult dogs.

Many puppies have a slightly elevated temperature during the change of teeth. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.

Measure fever in dog

If you suspect your dog has a fever, you should measure its body temperature. The best way to do this is with the right thermometer. But even if you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell if his temperature is elevated.

Clinical thermometer for dogs

To measure a dog’s fever, it is best to use a digital thermometer or one specially designed for dogs. The advantage: the temperature is measured quickly so that the dog only has to remain still for a few seconds.

In just 10 seconds you get an accurate measurement result with the thermometer Microlife VT 1831. It is waterproof, has a memory function, and beeps.

In order to make measuring as comfortable as possible for the dog, there is the dog clinical thermometer “Geratherm flex”. The flexible tip allows bends up to 45 degrees. It is waterproof and stores the last reading.

No thermometer – what then?

If you don’t have a clinical thermometer at hand, you can check your dog’s body temperature in another way. However, measuring with a thermometer is much more accurate and reliable.

You can feel if your dog’s temperature is elevated. To do this, place the back of your hand on a spot that is not very hairy. For example, are suitable

  • paws
  • lumbar region
  • snout
  • armpits
  • ears

If these parts of the body feel unusually warm, your dog probably has a fever. Also, check the gums: If they are warm, dry, and more red than usual, the body temperature is probably elevated.

Measure the dog’s fever correctly

Body temperature is measured rectally in dogs because that provides the most reliable readings. How to take a fever in your dog:

  • Smear some petroleum jelly on the thermometer to make measuring more comfortable for your dog.
  • Get a second person to help you. She should hold and distract the dog. Especially dogs that have never had their fever measured could react aggressively out of fear.
  • Slowly and carefully insert the thermometer a few centimeters into the dog’s anus.
  • Important: The tip of the thermometer should be gently held against the inside of the rectum. If there is no contact with the skin, only the intestinal air is measured.
  • After the measurement, clean the thermometer thoroughly to avoid spreading bacteria.

Measurements on ears, mouth, and armpits are not useful in dogs. The dog could bite the thermometer and measurements on hairy areas will give inaccurate values.

Signs of fever in dogs

It is very clear when you should measure a dog’s fever: Various signs tell you that your dog’s body temperature could be too high. These include physical changes, such as

  • dry nose
  • hot belly
  • hot ears and armpits
  • ruffled fur
  • increased pulse
  • diarrhea

You can also tell by your dog’s behavior that he has a fever. Fevered Dogs

  • refuse feed
  • are very thirsty
  • panting heavily or breathing rapidly
  • are tired and listless
  • appear listless (apathy)
  • tremble severely (chills)

If at least one of these abnormalities applies to your dog, it is advisable to measure its fever.

What to do if the dog has a fever?

If you have noticed a fever in your dog, you do not necessarily have to go to the vet right away. Fever is an endogenous defense reaction in which the immune system works at full speed. You should only visit the vet if

  • the body temperature approaches the 41-degree mark
  • You cannot bring down the fever despite taking appropriate measures
  • Your dog is old or has a medical condition
  • a puppy is affected (rapid dehydration)
  • You are unsure whether your dog has a fever

The vet can lower the fever with medication and find out the cause of the fever right away. Because it is precisely this and not the fever itself that must be fought in order to really help the dog.

Fever first aid is still important to keep the dog from overheating or dehydrating. If your dog has a fever, you should do the following:

  • Let your dog rest. The dog’s body can recover most quickly when it sleeps.
  • Take your dog to a cool and darkened room to cool down.
  • Keep gas laps as short as possible.
  • Offer your dog enough water. If he doesn’t drink on his own, you can put water in his mouth with a spoon or a syringe (without a needle).
  • If your dog refuses food, you can offer him a cooled, salt-free meat or vegetable broth. This is how it absorbs liquid and nutrients.
  • Watch your dog and measure its body temperature regularly.

To help your dog, you can also give him cold leg wraps: soak towels in cold water, wring them out and place them on his legs or neck.

Don’t give your dog cold showers or use human medication. These can potentially be fatal to your dog.

Possible causes of fever in dogs

With the increased temperature, the body tries to fight off pathogens. The dog’s immune system works intensively. So fever is a symptom and it can indicate many different diseases. This includes:

If bacteria attack the dog’s body or if there is an infection, fever occurs. In dogs, for example, the lungs, intestines, bladder, heart, skin, or uterus could be inflamed. Inflammation in the dog’s mouth often causes fever. Abscesses can also be the reason for an elevated temperature.

Viruses can also cause fever in dogs. Viral infections are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as a cough. Colds and kennel cough, for example, can be the cause of fever in dogs.

Various parasites found in dogs can be responsible for fever. For example, ticks can transmit Lyme disease. This disease can result in high body temperature. Giardia (bacteria in the intestines) not only cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and flatulence but also fever in dogs.

If the dog has ingested something that is toxic to it, its body may react with a fever. This can be the case with slug pellets, xylitol (sweeteners), or antifreeze, for example. You can often tell from the fever that the dog has ingested a poisoned bait.

If your dog gets a fever after being vaccinated within 48 hours, this is a normal reaction of the body. However, it is important to check that the fever does not continue to rise. Fever can also occur in dogs as a side effect of certain medications. It is best to consult your vet about this.

Tumors or rheumatism can cause fever in dogs.

Remember: Fever is an endogenous defense reaction that is important. That’s why you shouldn’t worry too much if your dog has a fever. However, if the fever does not go down despite appropriate measures, or if it exceeds the 41-degree mark, you should consult a veterinarian.

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