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How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer

 
By Anaëlle Laurent. January 13, 2021
How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer

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Do you suspect that your dog has a fever? The best way to find out at home is by taking their temperature with a thermometer, but if you don't have a thermometer at home you may be wondering how to tell if your dog has a fever without a thermometer.

In this AnimalWised article we'll tell you the most common symptoms of fever in dogs that you can identify to make know that your dog has a fever. We'll also tell you what you can do to help at home and when it's time to take them to the veterinarian.

You may also be interested in: How to Tell if a Cat is Dehydrated

Fever in dogs

The first question you may be asking yourself is what exactly is a fever? Fever in dogs is a medical condition that dogs experience when their body temperature is above average. The normal body temperature for a dog is between 38°C to 39.2°C (100°F to 102.5°F), anything over that is considered a fever.

Not only are fevers uncomfortable, lowering our dog's quality of life, but it also makes dogs more vulnerable to other health issues. This is why it's very important we help our dog quickly recover and get back to their healthy and happy lifestyle. As always, here at AnimalWised we recommend you take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you see any behaviour abnormalities. This way they can be properly diagnosed and treated by a professional. Before we take a look at the symptoms, let's understand what causes fever in dogs.

Causes of fever in dogs

  • Infected bite, scratch or bite
  • Ear infection
  • Urinary traction infection
  • Infected tooth
  • Bacterial or viral disease
  • Infection of organs
  • Ingestion of toxic plants, antifreeze or human medication

Learn more in our article about fever in dogs.

How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer - Fever in dogs

Common symptoms of fever in dogs

In order to tell if a dog has a fever without a thermometer, it's important to know what the symptoms of a fever in dogs are. Common symptoms of fever in dogs include:

If your dog is experiencing any of these abnormal behaviours, it's best you take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible to be properly diagnosed and treated.

How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer

The best way to know if your dog has a fever is to measure their temperature with a rectal thermometer, but if you don't have a thermometer at home you may be wondering how to tell if your dog has a fever without a thermometer. To do this you can check by doing the following procedure:

1. Check for symptoms

Is your dog experiencing any of the symptoms we mentioned above, such as loss of appetite, coughing, vomiting or lethargy? These are all big signs that they have a fever or are suffering from another health problem.

2. Feel your dog's ears

A dog's ear is usually warm but cold on the tip. If your dog's ears are abnormally hot, even the tips, this is a good indicator that your dog's temperature is above average and, therefore, that they have a fever.

3. Feel your dog's nose

You can also check your dog's nose. If they have yellow of green nasal discharge we can suspect that they are suffering from some type of infection which is one of the main causes of fever in dogs. In this case you will need to go to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

4. Check your dog's gums

If your dog is suffering from a fever, their gums will be dry, warm and more red, rather than their usual pink color.

5. Feel your dog's body

Lastly, you can check your dog's groin area and armpits. If they are also hot or swollen, your dog probably has a fever. To learn more, we also recommend you watch our video below about common signs that your dog is sick.

How to reduce a dog's fever at home

Now that you know whether you dog has a fever or not, here are some home remedies you can do to help them reduce their fever and have a normal body temperature again:

  • Give them a chill bath
  • Place a cool towel on their ears or belly
  • Clean their ears
  • Encourage them to drink more water

Lastly, we still recommend you contact your veterinarian. It's the safest option to ensure your dog recovers and doesn't become more ill. Remember that a fever is usually a symptom that your dog has an infection or another health issue that will need to be treated by a professional. So, even if you're able to reduce their fever, it's important you take them to the vet for a check-up.

How to take your dog's temperature at home

Although in this article we teach you how to tell if your dog has fever without a thermometer, if you really want to be sure, you'll need to check with a thermometer. You can get these at your local pharmacy. If you really want to be sure that your dog has a fever, acquire a rectal thermometer and follow these instructions:

  1. When taking your dog’s temperature, it’s best to use a rectal thermometer. So take your rectal thermometer or buy one in your local pharmacy.
  2. Ensure your dog is calm. You can also ask someone to help you hold them and keep them calm.
  3. Lubricate the end of the thermometer and turn it on.
  4. Gently life your dog's tail and insert the tip of the thermometer (the metal coated tip).
  5. Wait a couple of seconds. It usually takes 10-30 seconds to display a reading.
  6. Remove the thermometer and write down their body temperature.
  7. Don't forget to disinfect and clean the thermometer.

If their temperature rises above 39.4ºC (103ºF) or lasts for more than 24hs, it's very important you take them to the veterinarian right away. Keep in mind that temperatures over 41ºC (106ºF) are life threatening and can permanently damage their internal organs.

For further guidance, watch our video about the reliable and professional way to take your dog's temperature at home.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

Bibliography
    • Battersby, I.A., Murphy, K.F., Tasker, S. and Papasouliotis, K. (2006), Retrospective study of fever in dogs: laboratory testing, diagnoses and influence of prior treatment. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 47: 370-376. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-5827.2006.00042.x
    • E. B. Breitschwerdt, M. G. Papich, B. C. Hegarty, B. Gilger, S. I. Hancock, M. G. Davidson. (1999), Efficacy of Doxycycline, Azithromycin, or Trovafloxacin for Treatment of Experimental Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs. DOI: 10.1128/AAC.43.4.813

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