What You Should Know About Fevers & Your Pet

It may be jarring to see your normally healthy and energetic pet suddenly feeling lethargic or unable to eat. One likely problem is that your dog or cat has a fever.

Just like humans, pets can fall prey to fevers that can lay them low for a couple days. Once you identify that your pet is suffering from a fever, you can take steps to help alleviate the discomfort. If your pet continues to have a high temperature, take them to your experienced, local veterinary provider to find out more information and determine if something else is at play, including a reaction to a recent vaccination.

Find out more about fevers in cats and dogs and how you can take care of your pets when they are feeling under the weather.

What is the normal dog temperature range?

Dogs run warmer than humans. While the ideal temperature range for humans is between 97.6 to 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit, for dogs, it is between 101 and 102.5 degrees. Anything above 103 would be considered a fever. For cats, the normal range is between 99.5 and 102.5.

How do I know if my pet has a fever?

There are no definitive clues to determine whether your dog or cat has a fever. But most pet owners know the rhythms and habits of their pet. If they begin acting out of character, it is often a sign that something is wrong. Here are some symptoms that may be caused by a fever:

  • Lethargy/depression
  • Shivering
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing

My dog has warm ears and a dry nose – that means fever, right?

This theory has been passed down for generations, but it is not an accurate way to determine if your dog has a fever. The only way to truly know if your pet has a fever is to take its temperature.

Where should I take my dog’s temperature?

You’ve got two options. The most accurate way to determine your dog’s temperature is to use a rectal thermometer. You’ll first need to lubricate it. The best options are petroleum jelly or baby oil. Then, try to have your dog lay on its side while you place the thermometer in your dog’s anus about an inch deep. Once you get a reading, gently remove it. Dog ear thermometers have grown in popularity over the years, although they aren’t as accurate.

How to check a dog’s temperature without a thermometer?

If a thermometer isn’t handy, you can use your hands to get an idea of your dog’s temperature. Areas that tend to get warm when the dog has a fever include the paws, ears, groin, and armpit. You can also check the dog’s gums. This area will get warm and dry when a fever is present.

How to take a cat’s temperature in the ear?

Most cats aren’t too comfortable with the idea of having their temperature taken. Taking its temperature should be a two-person job. One person should hold the cat in their lap. The other should insert the thermometer lightly into the horizontal ear canal. Hold the thermometer at a 90-degree angle with your cat’s head.

What if my pet has a fever?

If your dog or cat’s body temperature is high, your next step should be to reach out to your neighborhood veterinarian. They may provide some in-home remedies or request that you bring your pet into the office. Causes of fevers range from as small as a reaction to a vaccination to more serious problems like infections or the canine flu. Other times, the cause of a fever in pets can’t be determined. Experts call this “fever of unknown origin” or FUO. In some cases, FUO is caused by immune system problems or cancers.

How to comfort a dog with a fever?

If your pet is suffering from a fever, there are some steps you can take to provide them some relief. Apply cool water around their paws and ears with a wet towel or cloth. Try to get them to drink some water to help bring down their body temperature. If your veterinarian has provided antibiotics to help reduce the fever, make sure your pet properly swallows its pills. Never give your pet human medication – it is extremely toxic for dogs and cats.

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