The two most common causes of fever in dogs are viral and bacterial infections. Some examples of viral infections are hepatitis, parvovirus, and distemper. Examples of bacterial infections are skin abscesses and pyometra. Respiratory infections can be viral or bacterial. Some other causes are heatstroke, eclampsia or low blood calcium, and tick fever.
The average temperature in dogs is 101.3. The adult dogs temperature can range from 100 to 102.5. A body temperature above 103 in a dog is considered to be a canine fever. An elevated temperature is not necessarily a sign of dog illness. A dog can have a variation in temperature of one or two degrees depending on the time of day, their emotional state and amount of activity, or the environment, such as being outside on a hot day. Fever can be one of the symptoms of a sick dog.
Most dogs hair insulates against heat loss or heat gain. On a hot day the only way a dog can lower its body temperature is by panting. A dogs sweat glands are located on the foot pads.
Viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells can cause fever by stimulating white blood cells to produce chemical substances called pyrogens. Pyrogens are helpful in combating unwanted invaders. Fever may mean your dog’s body is responding to the challenge and fighting the infection.
Some of the signs of a fever in dogs are:
- Lack of appetite
- Nasal discharge
Dogs can seem cold and shiver or feel hot and pant or seek a cool place. There may be an increase in the heart rate and respiratory rates.
If a dog has fever over 105 it may have had a heatstroke. A shower or cold water bath must be given immediately to lover the body temperature before brain damage or death results.
Dog fever can be controlled by aspirin. Providing shade and plenty of water helps prevent heat stroke in dogs.