How to tell if a dog has a fever without a thermometer

Dogs, like humans, can develop fevers. A fever is defined as a rise in body temperature that exceeds the usual range. It is also known as hyperthermia. The typical temperature of a dog is 99.5°F to 102.5°F, with 100-101°F being the most frequent. As with humans, some dogs will have slightly colder or slightly warmer than average temperatures, therefore if their temperature is not normal, it is necessary to examine them for common causes of fever.

Causes of Fever in Dogs

Fever in dogs can occur for a variety of causes. The most serious cause of a fever (>103°F) is infection. Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the illness. In addition to a fever, a dog with an upper respiratory tract infection (e.g., a canine cold) may have a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneeze or cough.

Overheating is another cause of fever. Mild overheating might occur after vigorously jogging about the yard. Panting and excessive water consumption are frequent symptoms, as is a slightly elevated fever (e.g., 103.5°F).

Once the dog is quiet and sleeping in a cool area, the temperature should rapidly return to normal. Severe overheating, often known as heat stroke, can result in a very high-temperature increase (>104°F). There may be stumbling or difficulty walking, collapse, and difficulty breathing.

Other causes of fever include exposure to certain toxins/drugs, prolonged seizures, anaphylactic responses (e.g., allergic reactions), envenomation (e.g., reptile/insect bites or stings), and severe inflammation.

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Wet Nose vs Dry Nose Debate

While it is true that a feverish dog’s nose might be dry and warm, this is not always the case. Some ill dogs may have a cold, damp nose. Other dogs that have a warm, dry nose are OK. The temperature and moisture in a dog’s nose can alter throughout the day due to a variety of natural factors such as humidity and external temperature. This implies that, sadly, testing the dog’s nose is not a reliable or accurate technique of determining whether or not he has a fever.

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How to Take a Dog’s Temperature

The best way to take a dog’s temperature is to check it rectally with a thermometer. Any quick-read digital thermometer will suffice. It is critical to designate and label this thermometer for dog use so that it is not accidentally used for people in the future. Make sure to lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly or a water-based lubricant.

Orally taking a dog’s temperature is almost always inaccurate. Dogs have difficulty remaining still long enough to properly position a thermometer under their tongue with their mouths closed in order to obtain a reading.

Canine ear thermometers can be used, but they are also frequently inaccurate. Typically, ear thermometers produce lower readings than the dog’s true current temperature.

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Other Ways to Check for Fever

If a thermometer is not available, the temperature can be determined by touching the hairless areas of the skin, such as the belly and armpits. It is beneficial to be well-versed in your dog’s typical skin temperature.

If he appears hotter than usual in these regions, he may have a fever. This is a somewhat incorrect procedure, but it might assist you in determining whether he needs to be examined by a veterinarian. Usually, he will exhibit other signs of disease to assist stress the necessity for a vet appointment.

What to Do Next

If your dog gets a fever, he should be examined by a veterinarian. If you can’t bring him in right away, keep him hydrated with plenty of clean water and low sodium chicken soup. Keep him quiet and in a cool (but not freezing) environment.

Comfort your dog by washing him with room temperature water if his temperature is really high. Use ice cubes or very cold water sparingly since this may cause his temperature to drop too rapidly. Do not administer aspirin or any other fever-reducing medication that is often recommended to patients. These drugs have the potential to make dogs worse.

When you come for the veterinary visit, make sure to tell the doctor about his fever, symptoms, and what you did to attempt to lessen the fever.

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