Dog Tips

About Dog Fevers

You know that fever is when the body’s temperature rises higher than normal. But did you know that fever in itself is not a disease? It’s actually a sign that your body’s defence mechanism, the immune system, has been activated against potential infection. 

The same applies to fever in dogs. A normal body temperature for a dog is around 101°F to 102.5°F. Anything above 103°F can be considered a fever in dogs. The causes of fever in dogs can range from a minor infection to cancer. Hence it is important to be able to detect fever and find out the underlying reason for the same at the earliest. 

Causes of Fever in Dogs

While there can be plenty of reasons for your dog to get fever, some of the most common ones include – 

  • Tooth infection

  • Viral, bacterial or fungal infection

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Parasitic diseases like pneumonia, parvovirus, distemper virus, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease

  • Allergic reaction to medications

  • Exposure to toxins

  • Routine vaccination

  • Cancer

How to Check Fever in Dogs?

The common causes of fever are listed above but you need to be able to detect fever accurately in dogs before starting to detect the cause. It can be a difficult task as a dog’s body temperature keeps varying throughout the day. It can also increase in times of stress or excitement. 

Some people would say feeling the nose is a good way to tell but that’s not the right way. The best way to determine fever in dogs is to use a digital thermometer for rectal use and note the temperature at various times of the day. 

What are Dog Fever Symptoms?

While you may not keep checking your dog’s body temperature all the time, there are some symptoms and signs that the dog will exhibit that can indicate a potential fever. These include – 

  • Lethargy

  • Lack of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Nasal Discharge

  • Shivering

  • Dry or warm nose

  • Warmer ears

  • Excessive panting

  • Red or bloodshot eyes

Fever usually goes unnoticed in a dog. It is important to keep an eye out for the above symptoms as the underlying reason can be severe sometimes. 

My Dog Has a Fever, What Now?

If the thermometer shows 106°F, you should immediately run to the vet. If it is in the range of 103°F - 105°F, you can use some home remedies to bring it back to normal. These include – 

  • Hydration – Plenty of fresh water at regular intervals will help hydrate the dog’s body and prevent the fever from going higher.

  • Cooling – You can apply cold water around the dog’s paws, ears and belly using a soaked towel. Keep the dog under a fan while doing it. Once the temperature drops back to normal, you should stop. 

  • Cold bath – Giving a cold bath can also help reduce the fever.

Your dog may refuse to drink water. Do not force it. You can use a medicine dropper to inject small amounts of water into its mouth. Never give any human medicines to your dog. It can cause severe reactions and, in some cases, can even be fatal. You may even find some fever reducers for dogs but do not administer any without consulting a vet. 

If your dog is constantly shivering, panting or vomiting, you should go to the vet immediately even if the temperature is not above 106°F. 

What is Tick Fever in Dogs?

Also known as the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick Fever is a condition in dogs caused by Rickettsia Rickettsii bacteria. Ticks pick up the infection and transfer it to dogs when they bite them. Eating an infected animal like a mouse or a deer can also cause this disease. 

Tick fever can be fatal in some cases, making it important to identify it early. The symptoms include – 

  • 105°F or higher body temperature

  • Joint inflammation

  • Coughing or excessive panting

  • Labored breathing

  • Swollen, or lopsided face

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Anemia

Tick fever or rocky mountain spotted fever usually occurs in three phases. 

  • Subclinical phase – This is the initial phase. Any major symptoms may not be present here but the dog is infected and the disease is contagious to other dogs. The tick will also still be attached to the dog’s body.  

  • Acute – This is when the fever is minor. It usually lasts two to three weeks. Early detection and treatment can cure it sooner.

  • Chronic phase – This is when the disease becomes severe. The fever can last for months or even years here as it may keep recurring. Weight loss, anemia, lethargy and in some cases even kidney disease can be the impact. Your dog may need hospitalization if the vet recommends it. 

The organisms spreading this fever are found globally but the closely related ones are only found in certain geographic areas of North, South, and Central America. Dogs are highly susceptible to this disease. It can turn out to be quite severe as between 1% and 10% of dogs with Rocky Mountain spotted fever die from the disease. (1)

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Sometimes, the cause of dog fever cannot be readily determined. This is called "fever of unknown origin," or FUO. The most likely causes of dog fever of unknown origin are disorders of the immune system, bone marrow problems, undiagnosed infections, and cancer. 

At Spot Pet Insurance, we get thousands of claims for heartworm/flea medications, tick prevention, infections and more. We understand the risks of owning a pet. We know how expensive vet treatments can be, especially when the conditions are severe like bone marrow problems and cancer. 

Spot accident and illness plans can be used with any licensed vet in Canada or the U.S. Whether you are home, or travelling to the U.S., veterinary services your pet receives for the diagnosis, treatment, or management of covered conditions can be eligible for reimbursement. Spot’s accident and illness plans can help cover a variety of conditions including; broken bones, lacerations, aggression, kidney disease, diabetes, and more. With the addition of Wellness Riders for an extra cost, you can also receive reimbursements for wellness exams, certain vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more. Learn more about dog insurance or get a free quote. 

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  1. McQuiston, J. H. (2018, June 11). Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Tick fever) in dogs. MSD Veterinary Manual.

  2. Fever in dogs: Causes, symptoms and care | Huntersville Veterinary Surgeon | Surgery for leiomyosarcoma. (2020, December 30).

  3. Parker, H. (2022, August 14). High fever in dogs. WebMD.

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