Taking Dog Temperature and Caring for Fever

There are myths surrounding ways to gauge a dog’s temperature. Some people claim you can tell if a dog has a fever just by feeling his nose. However, this is inaccurate. A dog’s temperature is naturally higher than a human’s, so a fever can often go undetected.

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees. Anything over 103 degrees is considered a dog fever. When a dog’s temperature reaches 106 degrees, serious complications and even death can occur.

Causes of fever
A high dog temperature can be caused by a variety of factors, including the following:

  • Extremely hot temperatures (often referred to as heat stroke)
  • Consumption of toxins
  • Infection, such as that from bacteria, viruses or fungus
  • Recent vaccination
  • Bone marrow problems
  • Cancer

Symptoms of fever
A fever can cause various symptoms in a dog, including the following:

  • Shivering/chills
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny nose

Taking dog temperature correctly
The most accurate way to take a dog’s temperature is to do it rectally. It is best to use a digital thermometer designed specifically for dogs. Human thermometers do not tend to work as well for taking a dog’s temperature.

Take the thermometer and apply baby oil or petroleum jelly to it. Insert it into the dog’s anus, about an inch or so, and then wait for the thermometer to beep to let you know it is ready. It should take no more than one minute. For an instructional video detailing the process of taking a dog’s temperature, check out the YouTube video.

If you prefer, you can take the dog’s temperature by placing the thermometer under his armpit and then adding one degree to the reading. However, this method is not the most accurate and the anal reading is preferred.

Caring for a dog’s fever
Any temperature over 103 degrees should be reported to the vet. You can bring down a fever by wetting the dog’s fur, especially around feet and ears. Using a fan will cool down the dog even faster. Continue until the dog’s temperature decreases to under 103 degrees.

Whenever you notice your dog has a fever, try to get him to drink small amounts of water. This will keep him hydrated. Do not ever give your dog human medication, such as Tylenol or Motrin, as it can be poisonous and cause serious health conditions or even death.

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