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Health & Wellness

Here’s what to do when your dog has a fever

Fever in dogs can be a sign of a more serious illness. These are some signs your dog has a fever and insight on when to contact your vet.

Has your furry friend been feeling a little under the weather lately? For new pet parents and even some experienced dog lovers, a pet coming down with a sudden illness can be worrisome. If you suspect your dog might have a fever and don’t know what to do next, here are some steps you should take to help your dog get better as soon as possible.

“Fever is an elevated body temperature that occurs in response to infection or inflammation in the body,” Dr. Julia McDuffie, DVM, a vet at Allandale Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas, says. Your dog’s fever could be a sign of anything from a mild infection to something more severe, such as heatstroke or cancer, so it’s important to take them to the vet right away.

How to tell if a dog has a fever 

Dr. McDuffie says to be on the lookout for unusual behavior if you suspect your dog may have a fever. 

“Common signs that a dog might have a fever include lethargy, malaise, shivering or any other signs that a dog isn’t feeling well, such as vomiting, coughing or not wanting to eat, drink or play,” she says. If your dog’s typically boundless energy is suddenly gone, it might be time to call the vet. 

Valley fever in dogs

Your dog could also have valley fever, a fever typically associated with a fungal infection. For valley fever specifically, Dr. McDuffie suggests looking out for all the typical warning signs of a fever, such as coughing and lethargy, and monitoring if your dog has experienced weight loss or a decreased appetite. 

Dr. McDuffie says your vet is the best person to determine the cause of your pet’s fever and the proper care plan to help them feel better.

What can I give my dog for a fever?

It’s crucial to understand that typical human fever medications, like ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aspirin and other acetaminophens, aren’t the solution for your dog. In fact, these medications can be fatal if consumed by dogs or cats.  

If your pet feels a bit warmer than usual, Dr. McDuffie suggests misting them with cool water, applying a dampened, cool towel or placing them in front of a fan. Once your pet has been given some cooling solutions, Dr. McDuffie says it’s the perfect time to call or schedule a visit with your vet. 

RELATED: What's a normal temperature and heart and respiratory rate for a dog?

How to treat fever in dogs

Once your vet has ruled out any serious illnesses, your pet will likely be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications, or they may be administered intravenous or subcutaneous fluids to help lower their body temperature. 

Your vet might also prescribe antibiotics, pain medications and supportive care. This could mean spending extra time watching over your pup for the next few days to monitor their symptoms and make sure they get back to feeling like themselves as quickly as possible.

You should keep an eye on your pet’s temperature, too. Unfortunately, a dog's temperature is most accurately taken with a rectal thermometer. It isn’t the most pleasant experience for you or your pet, but it will give you the most accurate result. According to Dr. McDuffie, ear thermometers designed for humans don’t work well for dogs. 

Dr. McDuffie says that a normal dog temperature is 101 to 102.5°F, and any temperature greater than that is abnormal and veterinary intervention is required. There’s no alternative medication that can replace proper veterinary care.

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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