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Fever in dogs: How to act correctly

What's going on there? Somehow your pet is behaving very differently than usual: he is low on energy, seems weakened and has no interest in romping, playing and playing around? Maybe your furry friend has caught a virus or a bacterium and his brave body is trying to fight it. Just like in humans, the immune system of dogs also reacts with an increase in temperature as a defence reaction.
This article tells you how best to help your pet during this time, which pathogens can be behind the fever and what you should do if there is no improvement in sight.

Recognising a fever: When does a dog have a fever?

The normal core body temperature in dogs is slightly higher than in humans: Adult dogs have a normal core temperature of 38-39 degrees Celsius, in puppies it can even be 39.5 degrees Celsius. Veterinarians speak of fever when the temperature is above 39.5 degrees Celsius.

A slightly elevated body temperature does not necessarily mean a fever. Your nose's temperature may vary during the day and may rise slightly, especially after long walks or dog sports. Observe whether the elevated body temperature is accompanied by any accompanying symptoms, such as these:

  • Loss of appetite
  • dry and warm nose
  • hot ears
  • rapid breathing and rising pulse
  • heavy panting
  • solid faeces
  • tiredness and lack of energy

These common symptoms can occur singly or simultaneously and together with an elevated temperature, can suggest that your furry friend is suffering from a fever.

Taking a fever in a dog in 5 steps

You are on the safe side if you measure your pet's temperature with a thermometer. Unfortunately, an ear thermometer for humans is not suitable for animals because the measurement at the ear is too inaccurate. It is therefore best to use a special rectal thermometer for animals and follow the following 5 steps:

  1. Calm your pet down, avoid hectic movements and keep some treats handy.
  2. You can apply Vaseline or medical lubricant to the tip of the thermometer to make it more comfortable to insert into your pet's anus.
  3. Now lift the rod and insert the metal tip of the thermometer rectally. You should hold the tip carefully against the inside of the rectum.
  4. Wait for the acoustic signal and remove the thermometer. Now you can read the temperature on the display.
  5. You should now spoil your brave pelt-nose with a treat: She has earned it! And at the same time she'll learn that taking a temperature isn't bad.

Caution: Too high a fever from 41 degrees Celsius is life-threatening for dogs, because it can lead to a life-threatening condition, as the heat can damage important proteins and organs in your four-legged friend's body. If this is the case, contact your vet immediately!

Fever in dogs: These diseases can be behind it

First of all, some reassuring information: Often the fever goes away just as quickly as it came. But high fever and other accompanying symptoms can also be caused by serious illnesses or infections, which you should always have checked out by a vet. These include:

  • Bacteria: Pathogens such as bacteria can penetrate even small injuries in dogs and cause annoying inflammations and abscesses on wounds. That the body defends itself against the troublesome pathogens is often shown by increased body temperature.
  • Viruses: Flu infections, which are also accompanied by cough or cold, can cause fever just like in humans. The highly contagious kennel cough, distemper or parvovirus can also spread among dogs due to pathogens.
  • Parasites: Parasites include ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease and lead to symptoms such as mild fever, faintness and swelling of the lymph nodes.
  • Poison: Has your pet possibly eaten something wrong? Poisonous food, antifreeze or other toxic substances lead to a defensive reaction of the dog's body - fever can be an accompanying symptom.

Reducing a dog's fever: When should I go to the vet?

First of all, an elevated temperature is nothing to worry about! If your pet has a fever, it is mainly a sign that your dog's defence mechanism is working properly. The best medicine then is: rest!

But if the fever persists for several days or rises above 41 degrees Celsius, your dog needs help from the vet. If the underlying disease is known, your vet can help treat it with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory and antipyretic medication.

You too can be there for your pet now and strengthen the defence reaction. Do something good for your pet, for example:

  • Provide plenty of water: When there is a fever, drink plenty of water so that the body does not dry out due to the heat. Provide your furry darling with enough water and help him a little if he doesn't want to drink on his own, e.g. you can mix some tea into his food.
  • Moist wraps: Moist wraps are also a helpful measure that you can use to cool down your pet's body.
  • Vitamins: Even if your four-legged friend suffers from a loss of appetite, you should provide him with vitamin-rich food. But don't worry too much if your pet doesn't eat for 1-2 days - the most important thing is to keep him hydrated.

Conclusion: Even if you are worried about your pet, try to stay calm: Hectic behaviour can be transmitted to your dog and put additional stress on the already stressed dog's body. Take a temperature regularly and keep an eye on your dog's body temperature and other symptoms. To be there for your darling, you can make his favourite place cosy and provide emotional support with lots of cuddles, if your dog allows it. We are keeping our paws crossed that your furry friend will feel better soon!

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