As a dog owner, one of the worst feelings you can experience is seeing your pet in pain and feeling powerless to help him. Fevers are an extremely common occurrence in both animals and humans and are often symptomatic of an underlying condition.
If your dog does begin exhibiting the symptoms of a fever, you may be tempted to try to treat him yourself to help reduce the fever and make him feel better. However, it is important to be informed on what is safe to give your dog for a fever prior to taking any actions. Below is a guide on the common signs of fever in dogs, what causes fever in dogs, and what you can do to help abate the symptoms of the fever.
Signs of Fever in Dogs
Before taking any steps to try to reduce a fever, it is important to first confirm that your dog is in fact running a fever. In order to properly identify a fever, it is necessary to understand what the symptoms are that indicate the presence of a fever, as well as what a normal temperature is for a dog.
A dog’s normal temperature ranges between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Many pet owners use what is commonly known as “the nose test” to determine whether or not their dog is running a fever. This tried and true method of feeling the nose is often not enough on its own to concretely denote the presence of a fever, but it can be a helpful starting point for many dog owners.
Simply feel the dog’s nose and if it is wet and cold, there is most likely not a fever. If the nose is hot and dry, it is likely that the dog is running a fever. In addition to this method, other common signs of fever in dogs include:
- Warm ears
- Warm, dry nose
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Red eyes
Causes of Fever in Dogs
Fevers in both dogs and humans are often symptomatic of an underlying condition that is causing the fever to occur. Dogs may develop a fever in an attempt to ward off infection or inflammation from a variety of different conditions.
For example, if a dog is suffering from an ear infection, a urinary tract infection, an infected or abscessed tooth, a bacterial or viral disease, an infected bite, or an infection of organs, then he may subsequently experience a fever as a symptom of the underlying infection or inflammation.
In addition to these causes, a fever may also be symptomatic of the ingestion of poisonous materials, such as human medications or antifreeze. Some dogs also develop a fever in response to receiving vaccinations. In order to successfully treat a fever, it is important to determine the underlying cause of the fever in order to ensure it does not reoccur.
What to Do If Your Dog Has a Fever
It is important that before attempting to treat your dog, you consult a licensed veterinarian to make sure that the steps you are taking will not do more harm than good. Many pet owners jump to wanting to give their dog human medication in order to reduce fever, but many human medications can be toxic to dogs, particularly if administered in incorrect dosages.
Some veterinarians may recommend giving your dog a low dose of a human over-the-counter medication to help bring the fever down, while others may wish to do a physical examination before beginning any kind of medication so that the symptoms are not hidden.
Always call your veterinarian before administering any type of medication to your dog to check that it is safe and to determine the right dosage. While you may not be able to give your dog anything for the fever, there are a number of steps you can take to help bring the fever down without over-the-counter medication.
To help reduce a dog’s fever, apply cool water to the paws and ears using a soaked towel or cloth. If possible, try to coax your dog into drinking cold water to help ensure hydration is maintained.