You’re sitting there, relaxed, and your trusty canine companion comes over, just wanting to share the moment with you. You reach down to gently ruffle the fur on his head, and you notice a slight warmth. Is that normal? He may seem a bit warm, like a child running a fever. But can you diagnose a problem with a dog in the same way? What’s going on?
Is My Dog Really Feverish?
A dog’s fever can be caused by a number of things, some serious and some not so serious. But, certainly, the first thing to do is to ascertain if your pet truly has a fever.
You must remember that a dog’s normal body temperature is higher than a human’s, varying between 101 and 102.5 degrees, so what may seem feverish to the touch to you, is simply normal for your pet.
Moreover, don’t for one minute believe that you can tell a dog’s temperature by the condition of his nose. The old wives’ tale states that a warm and dry nose on a dog, as opposed to cool and wet, means a fever, but it’s simply not true.
The only accurate way to test a canine temperature is with a thermometer, and I don’t mean an oral one. A rectal reading will be required for a proper reading. Please make sure to read our article on the proper way to do this.
When taking the temperature, you want to cause the least discomfort to your pet, and yourself, as possible. If you simply cannot take his temperature properly, then you should be on the lookout for other actual symptoms of high fever.
A sustained temperature of 103 degrees or higher requires a call to your vet. A reading of 105 degrees or more could be life threatening.
Why is My Dog’s Head Hot to The Touch?
There are a number of reasons why your dog’s head gets hot, and not all of them are cause for concern.
It could be due to your pet’s natural cooling process in which warm blood is circulated to the head, where it is distributed to the ears to increase heat loss.
Your dog’s head may be hot, not because he is feverish, but simply because it is a hot day. Perhaps the reverse is true, and it is a cold day and your pet has been seeking warmth by lying next to a fireplace or a warm oven, and his body is now dealing with any excess warmth that has accumulated.
Perhaps your four-legged friend has overexerted himself at playing and exercise on a warm day. If this is the case, there is no need to panic. The high temperature will decrease as some as the heat dissipates.
Stress can also cause physiological symptoms in dogs just as it does in humans, and can be manifested in a higher than normal temperature reading. So, think about his recent environment. Have there been unwelcome visitors, animal or human? A significant change in his normal home setting? Even a thunderstorm can be upsetting and stressful to some animals.
A trip to the vet can cause a slight fever, too, as certain vaccinations can cause a rise in temperature for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. But, if none of these circumstances apply, there must be another reason why your four-legged friend is feverish. Some of the major causes include; exposure to a toxin, diseases, and infections.
What Are the Signs of Fever in Dogs?
Remember that your fingers are hardly an accurate instrument with which to measure your dog’s temperature. What’s warm to you may not be warm to him. Therefore, the best way to diagnose a fever in your canine companion is to take a rectal reading of his temperature, but there are other signs to look for as well.
You should be able to notice changes in his behavior, some of which are quite obvious, such as coughing, vomiting, shivering, and a nasal discharge. Some others may be more subtle. Does he seem to be in a depressed mood? Lethargic? Is his appetite diminished, or simply vanished? You will know your pet well enough to recognize the signs.
What to Do When Your Canine Companion Has A Fever?
You can help relieve your pet’s discomfort by lowering his temperature. You can accomplish this by applying cool water to his fur, primarily on his head and feet, locations which the animal using to dissipate heat.
You could even use a fan to blow a cooling breeze over the damp fur and increase the effect of the water. But be careful to monitor your progress, and stop once your pet’s temperature is down to 103 degrees. Cooling your pet too quickly could have adverse consequences.
Make sure the animal stays hydrated by offering small amounts of water on a regular basis, but never force him to drink as that will simply add stress to the situation. And never be tempted to treat your pet with fever suppressants designed for humans, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as this could have serious consequences.
So, if your dog’s head should feel a little warm to the touch, there is no reason to panic. The first thing to do is to establish the fact that it really is a fever, then act accordingly. Remember, your pet is depending on you.