Fever In Dogs: Causes And Treatments

white thermometer at 36 degrees celsius

Key points

  • The normal body temperature for canines is around 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.5 – 39 degrees Celsius, which is slightly higher than the normal human body temperature.
  • Fever is a common condition many dogs experience. It can occur due to an ear infection, infected bite wound, scratch or cut, urinary tract infection, bacterial or viral disease, infected or abscessed tooth, or ingestion of a toxic substance. It can also occur as a side effect of certain medications or vaccines.
  • The signs that your dog has fever include red eyes, warm ears, lethargy, a warm and dry nose, nasal discharge, shivering, dehydration, loss of appetite, rapid heart rate, vomiting, increased respiratory rate, and coughing.
  • If your dog has a fever, don’t panic and don’t give it any medications without your veterinarian’s guidance. Instead, make sure your dog stays hydrated and use a soaked towel to cool its body if necessary.
  • Keep monitoring your dog and if you become concerned about the fever or your pup develops other symptoms, then take it to see a veterinarian. Don’t rush into giving the pet any over-the-counter medications without a veterinarian’s prescription.

Fevers are a relatively common canine condition, and it’s important to know why they happen and how to deal with them, as they often occur as a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

You may know about a traditional method of determining whether your dog has a fever by touching its nose. The common belief is that if a dog’s nose is wet and cold, the pup is healthy, but if it’s hot and dry, it may have a fever. But this belief is largely a myth, and most of the time, just touching your puppy’s nose isn’t enough to diagnose a fever.

You may also find yourself looking for over-the-counter medications that will help to reduce your dog’s fever as soon as you notice it. But it’s important to understand that not all of these drugs are safe for canines. In fact, voluntary treatment without veterinary supervision can be dangerous for your dog’s health. Therefore, if you’re trying to be a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to know what’s safe for your dog and how to act in stressful situations. This article will help you become more prepared, explain the causes and symptoms of fever in dogs, and let you know how you can help your dog when it has a fever.

What’s a Normal Dog Temperature?

blue and white thermometer at 36 9

The normal body temperature for canines is around 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.5 to 39 degrees Celsius, which is slightly higher than the normal human body temperature. If your dog’s temperature is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit or 39 degrees Celsius, it’s a sign that your pet has a fever.

How To Take A Dog’s Temperature?

Your dog may not be a fan of this procedure, but the best way to accurately measure its temperature is to use a rectal or ear thermometer. However, digital pet thermometers are widely available nowadays, so you can also obtain one of these devices. A digital thermometer registers your dog’s temperature within 60 seconds, making the whole process less uncomfortable and invasive.

If you choose to take your dog’s temperature using a rectal thermometer, lubricate it with petroleum jelly or baby oil first and then gently insert it about an inch into your dog’s rectum. Remove it as soon as the thermometer fixes the temperature.

Ear thermometer for checking fever

Ears thermometers are easier to use. They are a bit more expensive, but they don’t cause as much discomfort as rectal ones. They work by measuring the infrared heat waves that the area around a dog’s eardrum emits. Make sure to place the thermometer deep into your dog’s horizontal ear canal to get an accurate reading.

All things considered, it’s best to use either a rectal or ear thermometer to measure your dog’s temperature. Keep in mind that thermometers intended for human use do not work for dogs because they have a hard time measuring temperatures over 41 degrees Celsius.

Causes Of Fever In Dogs

Fever is a natural bodily response to an infection or inflammation, which can be external or internal. Fever can be a symptom of numerous conditions, including:

  • Ear infection
  • Infected bite wound, scratch, or cut
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Ongoing bacterial or viral disease
  • Infected or abscessed teeth
  • Infection in one or multiple organs such as kidneys or lungs

Sometimes, a fever can result from your dog eating something poisonous such as toxic plants, human medications, antifreeze, and human foods that are toxic to dogs. A dog can also develop a fever after eating human food containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener.

short-coated tan and white dog

Fever can also occur as a side effect of medication. So if you recently started giving your dog a new drug and now the pet has developed a fever, check the label for potential side effects. You should also try to figure out what could have potentially triggered your dog’s immune system and caused an allergic reaction. This can include new house plants, pet toys, household cleaners, and other recently purchased items.

Dogs can also get a low-grade fever after vaccination, just like humans. Your pup may experience a fever 24-48 hours after being vaccinated, but this condition is generally not dangerous and quickly resolves on its own. However, you should monitor your dog’s condition until the fever goes away.

Symptoms Of Fever In Dogs

If you suspect that your dog may have a fever, check if the pet is displaying any of the following signs:

  • Red eyes
  • Warm ears
  • Lethargy
  • Warm, dry nose
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing

Other signs that your dog has a fever may include warm ears, nasal discharge, shock, depressed mood, increased respiratory rate, rapid heart rate, and dehydration.

When To Call A Vet

dextrose hanging on stainless steel IV stand

If your dog’s temperature rises above 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius), it can be dangerous to your dog. A high body temperature can cause organ damage and even be life-threatening. If your dog’s body temperature is above 106 F, it is a medical emergency, and you need to take your pet to a vet as soon as possible.

Diagnosing the cause of canine fever can be complicated. First, a veterinarian will likely go through your dog’s health history to see if it has any chronic conditions. They will also need to review information about all vaccinations your dog has received, as well as surgeries, medications, allergies, past illnesses, recent injuries, insect bites, ingestion of toxic substances, and many other things. You will also need to tell the vet when you first noticed the fever.

In some cases, your dog’s vet will need to run tests such as a blood count, urinalysis, or a biochemistry profile. If the fever is caused by an infection, the vet will prescribe antibiotics.

What To Give A Dog With A Fever?

Canine fever generally resolves on its own, so there’s no need for you to panic. You should also avoid giving your pet medications without consulting a vet. Here’s what you can do to help your pet safely instead:

Apply Cool Water

If your pup has a fever, you can apply cool water onto its paws and around the ears with a towel or cloth soaked in water. As you’re doing that, monitor the pet’s temperature until it drops below 103 F. Once that happens, you can stop applying water. You can also try wrapping ice packs into a towel and putting it on your dog’s belly and chest or setting up a fan to blow in its direction. You should make your dog as comfortable as possible and give it plenty of attention and affection.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Another good way to alleviate your pet’s fever is to encourage your dog to drink water.

Make sure to monitor your dog’s condition and if the fever returns or your pup has any other symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.

short-coated white dog drinking water from filled container

Do not give your dog any fever medications without a veterinarian’s prescription, especially if it’s human anti-fever medication. Many human drugs are toxic to dogs, especially if you give your dog an incorrect dose. Remember that you can effectively deal with your dog’s fever without rushing into using conventional drugs.

Using VitaminA oil for dogs can help prevent many medical issues that can cause a fever. It is also an excellent alternative for many conventional drugs that may cause your pup to develop a fever. VitaminA oil has no side effects, and it efficiently treats issues like pain, inflammation, seizures, anxiety, and many other conditions. Using natural and safe alternatives to conventional drugs is the perfect choice if you’re worried about the idea of your dog consuming synthetic pharmaceuticals and experiencing their side effects.


If your dog has a fever, don’t panic and don’t rush into giving it any medications. Remember that you should never give human medications to canines. Instead, keep your dog hydrated and use a soaked towel to cool its body. The fever will likely resolve on its own, and there will be no need for you to use any other treatment methods. However, keep an eye on your dog, and if you’re still concerned about the fever or your pup develops other symptoms, then take it to a veterinarian.


Can I give my dog baby aspirin for a fever?

No, you should not administer human medications to dogs. In fact, some human drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen are toxic to canines.

What can I give my dog for a fever at home?

The best way to treat a canine fever at home is to soak a cloth or towel with cold water and apply it onto your dog’s ears and paws to cool the pet down. Encourage your pet to drink more water too.

How do you tell if a dog has a fever without using a thermometer?

If you don’t have a thermometer and suspect that your dog has a fever, feel its paws, ears, and nose. If the ears and paws are slightly warmer than your hands and your dog’s nose is hot and dry, then it probably has a fever.

Can a dog’s fever go away on its own?

Yes, generally, fever in dogs resolves on its own within 24-48 hours. However, make sure you monitor your dog’s condition during that time.

Can you give Tylenol to dogs?

No, you should not give your dog Tylenol or other over-the-counter medications since they can be quite dangerous. Do not give your dog any medications without a veterinarian’s prescription.