Fever in dogs, just like in humans, is not an illness in itself – it’s an indication that something serious is wrong. But when does one start talking about increased body temperature in dogs? What are the possible causes and how can you lower the fever again? Here are the most important things you need to know about fever in dogs:
Healthy dogs have a body temperature of 38 to 39 degrees. If your dog has overexerted himself, e.g. running fast or another exciting situation, the body temperature can increase to 40 degrees. If the dog’s temperature is above this, then it’s a fever. An unusually high temperature in dogs - as in most living creatures - indicates that their immune system is working extremely hard. It’s therefore fighting a pathogen that can be both bacterial and viral. Your dog has an acute fever in the first 14 days - if this condition persists, it’s called chronic fever. According to vets, 41 degrees and above counts as a “high body temperature”. From this point, it’s also potentially life-threatening due to organ failure. If your dog’s fever rises above 42 degrees, the body’s own protein coagulates, which can also lead to death.
To find out if your dog has a fever, you can take his body temperature. The most reliable reading is obtained by taking a rectal measurement with a digital thermometer. So that you notice quickly that your dog isn’t well, always pay attention to the symptoms of an increased body temperature in dogs:
Of course, these symptoms alone can only be an indication. Your dog could just as well have started panting because of the neighbour’s dog’s constant barking. The thermometer lets you find out for sure.
Temperature in dogs is a sign of an overburdened immune system. But what could your dog’s body be battling? A fever can have all kinds of causes. Here are some of the most common causes of an increased body temperature in dogs:
These unpleasant little creatures cause inflammation. In this case, the fever can be a sign of inflammation of the intestines, lungs, bladder, liver or even heart. Uterine inflammation still occurs relatively often in female dogs. Abscesses on wounds or tick bites that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis or ehrlichiosis are also not uncommon.
These only live in the bodies of other animals. Parasites include ticks and agents they transmit such as anaplasma, which spreads in your dog’s blood. Also typical are certain unicellular organisms (e.g. Giardia) and intestinal parasites.
Flu-like infections can cause fever in dogs just like in humans. Harmless symptoms such as sniffing or coughing are sometimes accompanied by less pleasant side effects such as choking or inflammation, e.g. of the tonsils. Corona also causes fever in dogs. Dogs that come into contact with other dogs a lot also often fall ill with the kennel cough virus, but you can have your dog vaccinated against this.
Fever is also one of the possible side effects of a vaccination. If this is the case, it usually occurs 24 - 48 hours after inoculation, but should subside quickly. On the other hand, regular vaccination against certain viruses such as distemper, parvovirus or leptospirosis can save your dog’s life.
Could your dog possibly have eaten something which is causing the increased body temperature? Dogs get fever from toxic substances such as antifreeze, slug pellets or xylitol, which is a sugar substitute in some foods.
Meningitis (inflammation of the meninges) is life threatening for dogs. It manifests with a high fever and is the result of other causes such as bacteria, viruses, infections, or parasites.
The most important thing to understand is that fever in dogs must have other causes. So, it doesn’t help to just fight the symptom, you have to find out what’s triggering the elevated body temperature in your dog. If your dog has a fever and you have no idea what’s causing it, it’s best to go to the vet immediately. This is especially true if you have an old, chronically ill dog or a still very young dog.
The doctor will probably prescribe antipyretic medication. He will, however, also diagnose what’s causing the temperature and treat the underlying illness.
When you’re allowed to bring your dog back home again, these tips will help support his immune system in fighting the fever:
Treat your dog to some peace and quiet. But make sure you can still monitor him at the same time. After all, you want to see the recovery process.
When you yourself have a fever, then you know you need to drink a lot. It’s no different for dogs with an increased body temperature. If he won’t drink, you have to help him or save him from dying of thirst by taking him to the vet again.
A cool, dark room will help your dog to recover from his fever more quickly.
Your dog is suffering, and you want to help him by giving him a painkiller? Medicine for humans could be lethal for your dog.
You can cool down your dog’s body temperature with damp cloths - but avoid radical measures such as ice-cold showers with a garden hose.
Your dog’s body needs a lot of strength. If your dog isn’t eating much anyway, his food should be particularly rich in vitamins and nutrients.
When your new dog bit the neighbour’s dog, everything seemed fine at first. But over the next few days, the dog got warmer and warmer, finally lay in his basket with chills, and had to have an emergency operation. So that every animal lover’s nightmare doesn’t lead to financial ruin, some dog liability insurance policies, such as those offered by Coya, cover dog bites. It’s best to find out before you buy your dog what other advantages dog liability insurance has for you and your new flatmate.
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