Fever in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Care

Fever in Dogs

Absolutely! Here’s a detailed breakdown of dog fever, including causes, symptoms, treatment, and key takeaways for responsible pet owners:

Understanding Fever in Dogs

  • Fever’s Purpose: Fever is a natural defense mechanism the body uses to fight off infection or other health issues. While uncomfortable, it’s actually a sign your dog’s immune system is working.
  • Normal Temperature: A healthy dog’s normal temperature ranges from 37.4-39.0°C (100-102.5°F). This can vary slightly with age and breed.
  • How to Measure: The most accurate way to measure a dog’s temperature is with a rectal thermometer.

Causes of Fever in Dogs

  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections are common causes of fever.
  • Inflammation: Injury, autoimmune diseases, or other inflammatory conditions can trigger fever.
  • Parasites: Tick-borne diseases like Piroplasmosis can cause high fevers.
  • Medications or Toxic Substances: Some medications or exposure to poisons can cause elevated temperature.
  • Heatstroke: Extreme heat conditions can lead to a dangerously high fever.
  • Other Conditions: In rarer cases, cancer or other underlying health issues can cause fever.

Symptoms of Fever in Dogs

  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shivering
  • Rapid breathing
  • Red eyes
  • Hot ears
  • Warm, dry nose (Note: sometimes this is misleading, observe the overall picture)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

How to Care for a Feverish Dog

  • Cool Down Safely: Place cool, damp towels on the dog’s paws, groin, and ears. Provide fresh water. Avoid ice baths or drastic temperature changes.
  • Monitor: Check your dog’s temperature regularly.
  • Veterinary Visit: Take your dog to the vet, especially if:
    • Fever is above 41°C (105.8°F)
    • Fever persists for more than 24 hours
    • Other severe symptoms are present

Treating Fever

  • Veterinary Diagnosis is Key: Your vet will determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.
  • Medications: Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or other medications may be prescribed.
  • Supportive Care: Rest, fluids, and possibly a bland diet will help your dog recover.

Preventing Fever

  • Vaccinations: Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations.
  • Parasite Prevention: Use tick and flea preventatives.
  • Avoid Toxic Substances: Store chemicals and medications safely.
  • Safe Environment: Protect your dog from heat stroke and other injuries.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Balanced diet, exercise, and regular vet checkups promote overall health.

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t Panic, but Don’t Ignore: Fever is a sign of an underlying problem. It’s rarely a crisis in itself, but it warrants attention.
  • Know Your Dog’s Normal: Establish a baseline temperature for your dog when they are healthy.
  • Seek Veterinary Care: Your vet is the best resource for diagnosis and treatment. Don’t self-medicate with human medications!
  • Prevention is Powerful: Protect your dog from preventable causes to reduce their risk of developing a fever.

Remember, a fever is your dog’s body telling you something is wrong. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and proper care, you can help your furry friend recover and get back to their playful self!

What Is a Dog’s Normal Temperature?

The normal temperature in dogs is 37.4-39.0°C. This varies depending on the age and size of the pet: small dogs have an elevated body temperature than large breeds, and older dogs have a lower body temperature than puppies. This is due to the speed of metabolic processes: the faster they occur in the body, the higher the temperature.

  • In newborn puppies, the temperature fluctuates between 33-36°C, and, starting from the 20th day of life, gradually increases, reaching 37.5-39°C;
  • In small dogs weighing up to 10 kg and height up to 40 cm, a temperature of 38.5-39.0 ° C is considered normal;
  • For medium dogs weighing 10-28 kg and height 40-60 cm – 37.5-39.0°C;
    For large representatives – 37.4-38.3°C.

To understand what temperature is normal, you can take a measurement when the pet feels well and is at rest.

Rapid breathing, a protruding tongue, a high pulse, and hot ears and limbs are symptoms that indicate your dog’s temperature should be taken. If these symptoms were not preceded by active games and other stress, it is better to check if everything is okay with the pet.

What Are Dog Fever Symptoms?

In the presence of fever, the dog is generally put down. Appreciation of the appearance and heat of the nose is not a good criterion for evaluating fever in dogs.

On the other hand, heat can be felt by placing the hands on the base of the ears and the skull of a feverish dog. Fever in a dog can induce tremors, decreased appetite, increased respiratory rate, panting, and general weakness.

The most relevant way to know if a dog has a fever is to use a rectal thermometer with a soft tip (available at pharmacies). Ideally, apply Vaseline to the tip of the thermometer before using it anally in dogs.

If your dog has a fever, it means something is attacking his immune system. It is therefore not a disease in itself, but a symptom. A feverish dog, however, shows other signs, which are partly due to significant water loss or underlying illness.

The following symptoms may also indicate a possible increase in body temperature:

  • Weakness, apathy, lack of interest in games;
  • Rapid heavy breathing and protruding tongue;
  • Poor appetite;
  • The bright red color of the tongue;
  • Increased temperature of paws, ears, and nose;
  • Vomiting and stool disorders;
  • Chills and tremors of the extremities;
  • Inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and eyes;
  • Increased thirst.

What Causes Fever in Dogs?

Fever in a dog can have various origins, such as inflammation, a viral or bacterial infection, the presence of parasites, or heatstroke. Besides these factors, other non-infectious causes or diseases can also be responsible for fever in an animal.

If your dog has caught an infection and the pathogens attack the immune system, the body increases body temperature. The purpose of this increase is to fight pathogens in the body with heat.

Fever is therefore not an illness, but an important defense mechanism of the body. Only when the fever rises too high or lasts too long can it become life-threatening for your dog. There are many diseases that cause fever in dogs. So, see below the causes of fever in dogs.


Before you worry too much, know that your pet can have a fever for various reasons, which are not necessarily serious. Indeed, he may have an increase in his body temperature under stress.

The reason for this stress can be a move, a visit to the veterinarian, violent noises… So no need to worry in this situation but just a little return to calm and patience for your faithful companion.

A Drug or Toxic Product:

Your dog may also be the victim of poisoning which may be linked to several factors, including heavy metals or pesticides (metaldehyde, organophosphates). As well as several medications, certain vaccines, anesthetics (ketamine), antibiotics, antiulcer drugs (cimetidine), or other various products.


If your dog has been bitten by ticks, he may suffer from various diseases including piroplasmosis. Parasitism should be considered when the temperature increases.

Major inflammations and Urinary Disorders:

All major inflammations trigger fever, but this is also the case for several urinary disorders, such as urinary infections or even pyelonephritis.

Sunstroke or Heatstroke:

If your dog has been in the sun or in a poorly ventilated room for too long, he may become dehydrated and suffer from sunstroke or heat stroke. As for men, these situations trigger a fever mechanism.

Autoimmune or Bone Disease:

Autoimmune diseases are the consequence of a dysfunction of the immune system which begins to attack its own body. We find pathologies such as systemic lupus erythematosus (a disease that affects many organs), polyarthritis (joint infection), thrombocytopenia (destruction of platelets and red blood cells), glomerulonephritis (kidney infection), and finally meningitis. corticosteroid-sensitive (inflammation around the brain and spinal cord).

Large dogs can also be affected by bone diseases that cause temperature rises. These include panosteitis or hypertrophic osteodystrophy. These illnesses can also cause limping or pain other than fever.


The last cause which can be e linked to your dog’s fever, is trauma. Indeed, tissue destruction, surgery, or extensive trauma can cause your pet to significantly increase its body temperature.

Despite all these potential causes, it is still preferable to remain calm and if in doubt to consult a veterinarian directly who will be better able to tell you the causes linked to this symptom.


Piroplasmosis is one of the commonly seen causes of fever. This disease appears following the inoculation of a parasite, babesia canis, by a tick.

Piroplasmosis results in the massive destruction of red blood cells and therefore anemia. The released hemoglobin is eliminated through the urine, causing a classic brick-red color.

The presence of piroplasms in the body causes a sharp rise in your dog’s body temperature, which can exceed 40°C.

Remember that a sudden fever, associated with the abnormal coloring of the urine, is strongly suggestive of piroplasmosis and therefore requires emergency consultation.

How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature?

The temperature in dogs, like all warm-blooded animals, remains at the same level constantly. Slight fluctuations during the day are normal, and changes in temperature are also possible due to external and internal factors. Such changes are insignificant and deviate from normal limits by no more than 0.5-1 degrees.

They can be caused by feeding, pregnancy, stress, and medications. A pathological change in temperature is prolonged or significantly outside the normal range.

Temperature measurements in dogs are performed using the rectal method. A mercury or electronic thermometer is suitable for these purposes. It is better to use the latter, as it is safer and allows you to determine the temperature faster. Temperature measurement procedure:

To measure the temperature, follow the instructions:

  • Calm your pet and pet it to make it feel safe.
  • Secure the dog in a standing position or lying on its side.
  • Disinfect the thermometer and apply lubricant or Vaseline to minimize discomfort.
  • Carefully and without sudden movements, insert the thermometer into the dog’s anus– for dogs of medium and large breeds, the device is inserted 2-2.5 cm, for small dogs and puppies – 1-1.5 cm.
  • Hold the thermometer inside for 5-7 minutes or until the beep sounds if you are using an electronic thermometer.
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t move. Calm down with affection and talking in a calm voice. If your pet tries to escape and becomes restless, interrupt the procedure.
    Carefully remove the device and read the result.
  • Wash your hands and the thermometer with soap and use a disinfectant.
  • Praise your pet for his patience and treat him with his favorite treat.

After the procedure, readings are taken from the thermometer. It is better to write them down and keep a temperature record to monitor changes in the dog’s clinical condition. The thermometer is treated with detergent and then wiped with an alcohol swab. Temperature measurements in dogs are carried out at least twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. The dynamics of temperature changes are important for staging and diagnosis, determining the effectiveness of treatment.

The normal temperature for a dog is 37.5-38.5 degrees. In puppies and small breeds of dogs, the norm is shifted upward – up to 39 degrees. This is due to increased metabolism. In large breeds, the normal temperature, on the contrary, maybe slightly lower than usual – up to 37, especially in the morning after a night’s rest.

How To Reduce Fever in Dogs?

Often the fever disappears as quickly as it appeared. If it doesn’t go down or if it increases, your doggie needs help.

  • Place the dog in a cool place and make sure that it does not actively move;
  • Wet ears, paws, groin area, and forehead with water;
  • Place a damp towel on the back of your head and place a bowl of fresh water nearby;
  • You can turn on the air conditioner or fan, but the pet should not be exposed to cold air flows – cooling should be gradual;
  • It is not recommended to bathe your dog in cold water or use ice: this can lead to vasospasm and heart failure. Also, under no circumstances should you give your animal medications intended for humans: they can cause serious damage to health.
  • Check the temperature every hour. If after all the measures the temperature remains at the same level and the dog’s well-being does not improve, contact your veterinarian. Prolonged hyperthermia is extremely dangerous and can affect the functioning of the central nervous system and digestive system, water-salt balance, and the functioning of internal organs.

When To Bring Your Dog to the Vet?

A fever that is too high can be fatal for your dog. This is why you should take your feverish dog’s internal body temperature several times a day. If you measure a temperature of 41°C or more, you must consult your veterinarian. This can reduce the fever in the dog and treat the underlying cause.

In the event of a fever, the priority of the veterinarian on duty will be to reduce this hyperthermia to avoid complications in your dog’s vital functions.

The rest of the clinical examination helps to find the cause of the fever. A urinary catheterization allows you to check your urine. Careful auscultation of the cardiovascular system and abdominal palpation can detect certain conditions. This first treatment is carried out by our veterinarian on call at home.

In many cases, your dog will need additional tests to clarify the diagnosis. These explorations can be carried out by your usual veterinarian, or if necessary in partner intensive care structures.

How To Prevent Fever In Dogs?

There aren’t necessarily any big secrets to preventing your dog from getting sick and catching a fever. This tends to happen, and it is very frequently benign. However, you must ensure that your animal rests often enough and follows a diet adapted to its age and breed. It is normal to notice a loss of appetite in case of fever, but it should not be neglected. If the problem persists for several days, action will need to be taken.

  • If your dog lives outdoors, insulate the kennel with hay or straw and close any gaps where cold air can blow.
  • In winter, take active walks and monitor your dog’s condition to prevent hypothermia. Dress hairless and short-haired dogs in warm suits, and wear special shoes or socks on their paws. In severe frosts, naked dogs are advised to reduce the duration of their walks.
  • On hot days, try to walk your pet during periods of minimal solar activity and take breaks in shaded areas. Take water with you on walks.
    Make sure your pet always has access to clean drinking water.
  • Do not forget about vaccination on schedule to avoid the development of infectious diseases.
  • Never leave your dog in a closed car, especially in warm weather, as this can lead to heatstroke.
  • Monitor your pet’s diet and choose only high-quality food that replenishes the required levels of micro- and macronutrients. 


A slight change in temperature of up to 1°C can be influenced by factors such as physical activity, stress, overwork, weather, and hormonal changes such as pregnancy and estrus.

If the indicator remains within the normal range, there is no need to worry – as a rule, the temperature returns to normal on its own.

Hyperthermia is a symptom that something has gone wrong in the body. In order for the temperature to return to normal, it is necessary to find out the reason for this reaction of the body.

Only a specialist can make an accurate diagnosis – for this, he will need to examine the pet and take tests if necessary.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at ItsAboutDog.com.

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