How To Tell If Your Dog Has A Fever And How To Treat It

If your dog has a fever, never let their temperature go above 40ºC (104ºF). If that happens, then you should take them go straight to the vet. You also need to try to bring theird temperature down by giving them cold water baths and making sure they drink lots of water.
How To Tell If Your Dog Has A Fever And How To Treat It

Last update: 22 October, 2018

Humans can use words to tell other people that they don’t feel well or are in pain. Animals don’t have that option. This is why it’s so important to pay close attention to their health. So in today’s article, you can learn how to tell if your dog has a fever, and how to treat it.

Does my dog have a fever? Causes and Symptoms

A dog’s normal body temperature isn’t that different from ours. It can vary between 38.5-39.9ºC (101.3-103.8ºF) in healthy conditions. If their temperature goes above 40ºC (105ºF),  a dog would probably have more than just a fever and needs to go straight to the vet.

Under no circumstances should you leave the fever untreated. If your dog’s temperature reaches 41ºC (105.8ºF), they can get hyperthermia. It’s a very dangerous, potentially fatal illness. But how does a dog get a fever? Well, there are a few different possibilities.

Dog lying down in a bed

A good way to figure out if your dog has a fever is to stop and watch how they behave. The best way is obviously to use a thermometer, but you might not have one on hand or can’t get your dog to hold still. In such cases you can try the following:

  • A hot, dry snout that should generally be cool and damp.
  • Nose and eyes crust due to unusual secretions.
  • The shivers, even if they have a blanket or another heat source.
  • Apathy, depression, or sadness. Spending the entire day lying down and sleeping.
  • Lack of appetite. Pay close attention to this if your dog is from a breed that’s generally a voracious eater. Not wanting to eat is a good way to tell if something is wrong.
  • Aggressiveness, especially in dogs that are normally calm and peaceful. Wanting to bite or attack is a sign that a dog isn’t feeling well.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Discomfort and whining for no apparent reason.

My Dog Has a Fever: how to lower their temperature

Once you’ve determined that your dog has a fever, the next step is to lower their temperature before taking them to the vet. If you feel professional help is necessary, there are things you can do to treat it while you wait for the appointment.

Dog with a fever

Remember that bringing down their temperature won’t stop the fever from getting worse if you don’t treat the cause of it (infection, virus, bacteria). Here are some good ways to bring down your dog’s temperature.

1. Bathe them in cold water

Fill up a container with cold water and pour it over your dog’s head, neck, stomach, and throat. If you have a small dog, you can put them in the bath and use the cold water from the faucet. Your dog should feel more comfortable there.

You can also take some ice cubes and put them on their neck, forehead, and snout. That will help hydrate these areas and bring their temperature down.

2. Have them drink water

Sick animals often refuse to eat and drink. But if your dog has a fever, they’ll need to drink lots of water. You could try to get your dog to eat with fruit — if they like eating them.

If they refuse to drink, even with their bowl in front of them, then take a needless plastic syringe and fill it with water. Put it inside your dog’s mouth and push out the water. Keep your dog’s mouth closed so they spit out the water.

3. Put them near a fan.

Another option if your dog has a fever is to put them near a fan or to use a hairdryer that’s set on cold. It’s not a good idea to use air conditioning, because that kind of dry air can actually be worse for their health.

Don’t let too much time go by between spotting the fever and taking your dog to the vet. The vet will figure out the root cause of the problem and give your dog the proper treatment.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.