Dog Fever - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Dog Fever - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Author WDF Staff


If you suspect that your dog might have a fever or elevated body temperature, the wisest thing you could do is call your vet. If you are just looking to prepare for any future problems, you came to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about your dog’s fever.

What is a dog's normal temperature?

Dogs usually have a body temperature of 99.5 and 102.5 Fahrenheit; it is higher than our human average temperature. There are many theories about why dogs have a higher temperature, and the most credible one is that dogs have faster metabolisms than humans. Their heart rate is higher than ours, and they age faster than we do. That means that your dog will always feel a little warmer to you, and it is difficult to tell solely by feel whether your dog truly has a fever. Interestingly, small dog breeds have a higher temperature and more heartbeats per minute than large dogs.

pug with  fever

How do I know if my dog has a fever?

A dog can reach a state of fever when its temperature reaches 103.5 degrees. This is a delicate state, and you should keep a close eye on your dog. If their temperature reaches 106 degrees, consequences can be fatal. To accurately determine if your dog has a fever, you will need to check your dog’s fever.

Symptoms of fever in dogs

Since every dog is unique, understanding your dog’s personality and habits are keys to determining whether it has a fever. Each dog is individual, and their body temperatures can vary. Some dogs naturally have a higher temperature than others, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a fever. There are some universal symptoms you can look out for;

  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shivers
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Unusual depressed or irritable mood

french bulldog sick

How do I check my dog's fever?

There are special rectal thermometers that can measure your dog’s fever under 60 seconds, and they are very easy to use. With a dab of petroleum jelly or baby oil, gently insert the thermometer only about an inch deep. Keep it there for about 50 seconds, and you should know precisely what your dog’s fever is. It might not be the prettiest of things, but you should know how to do it, just in case.

Your vet also probably has a special ear thermometer as an alternative for measuring your dog’s fever. If you do not have a thermometer, there are places on a dog’s body that you can feel for changes: nose, paws, ears, and gums.

How do I bring down my dog’s fever?

The first thing you should do is make sure the fever is not caused by something serious like an infection. The best thing you could do is ask your vet for advice and, in the meantime, try and ease your dog’s suffering and help them as much as you can.

Some of the ways you can help your dog battle a high fever is applying cool, damp cloths or water to his paws and ears and getting them to drink a little cold water if possible. If nothing works and the fever isn’t dropping, take your dog to your closest animal emergency.

You should never give your dog human over-the-counter medication. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or paracetamol are highly dangerous and toxic for dogs.

labrador puppy laying

What causes fever in dogs?

The most common cause of dog fever is an infection. Either from a wound of some sort, a bacteria, or a virus. An abscessed or infected tooth can also cause a fever. Vaccinations can often cause fevers as well as allergic reactions.

Excessive heat is likely to cause a fever, and you must react quickly to prevent heatstroke. That is particularly dangerous during summer when outside temperatures are higher, and you have an active dog. If you start noticing signs of heatstroke, make sure you move your dog immediately to a shaded or internal location and apply cool cloths or ice to the dog’s body, particularly around the paws and ears.

The ingestion of toxins can also cause a fever. These include plants, human medications, over-the-counter drugs, foods containing xylitol, and chemicals like antifreeze.

World Dog Finder team