Dog Fever: When to Contact Your Veterinarian

also see Canine Valley Fever

Dog Fever

Diagnosing a dog fever is difficult. Dogs naturally have hotter body temperatures than humans. Normal temperatures in canines range from 99.5 to 102.5 degrees F. Puppies start out cooler with rectal temperatures of 96 to 97 degrees F, but reach the average by their fourth week of life. Dogs fever issues remain hard to diagnose because few dogs show any symptoms. In a puppy, fever is easier to identify because the puppy usually becomes less playful. Fever in dogs, especially older dogs that sleep longer, are often difficult to detect. Pay close attention to your animal’s behavior. Dog fever symptoms include: • Avoidance of human contact • Change in behavior • Excessive panting • Lack of appetite and thirst • Lack of energy • Lumps and swelling Dogs with fevers usually prefer to be left alone. They may become snappy, seek quiet areas with little traffic and attempt to hide from owners. If your dog is acting strange, seek veterinary care. Fevers in canines appear for many reasons. Infections commonly cause a fever. An abscessed tooth, infected wound, bites from another insect or animal, internal parasites and tumors commonly cause dog fever troubles. In hot weather, dogs with limited shade or cold water overheat quickly. Never leave a dog in a car in the summer! Canine fevers may be linked to cancer, immune system disorders, organ disease and even unknown reasons. Fevers of unknown origins trouble owners. The fever appears for no reason and is hard to treat because there is no cause. To determine if your animal has a fever, a rectal temperature is necessary. A thermometer is inserted into the anus. Digital thermometers provide quick results lessening the stress on an animal from this invasive test. While you can perform this test at home, you must make sure your animal remains completely still to prevent damage to the rectum. Most pet owners prefer an experienced veterinarian performs this test. After dog fever results prove positive, a veterinarian looks for obvious infections. If no infected cuts, lumps or tumors appear, a full blood panel checks for organ function and parasites. Liver disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infections and heart problems can lead to fevers. X-rays will rule out pneumonia and internal issues. Ultrasounds diagnose abdominal problems. Antibiotics should take care of infections and stop fevers. Antibiotics offered as a dog fever treatment must be prescribed by your veterinarian and include: • Amoxicillin • Ampicillin • Cephalexin • Doxycycline • Ketoprofen If antibiotics don’t work, some veterinarians will recommend exploratory surgery to look for hidden ailments that X-rays and ultrasounds missed. Exploratory surgery is used only as a last result. If you believe your dog has a fever, contact your vet immediately. Dehydration occurs quickly, especially in feverish dogs.