High Fever in Dogs and Its Treatment

Dog Health

High fever can be expressed as a body temperature higher than normal. Body temperature in dogs varies between 38.3°C and 39.2°C. Dogs with a body temperature above 39.4°C are considered febrile. There may be different reasons for the increase in body temperature, such as infection, environmental temperature or excessive exercise. When the fever rises above 41.1°C in dogs, it can lead to life-threatening conditions. Therefore, the fever must be brought down urgently. “How to reduce fever in dogs?” The question is important at this point. In cases where urgent treatment is required, dog owners should take the dog to the veterinarian for examination instead of trying to reduce the fever at home.

sluggish dog lying on the ground

Fever Symptoms in Dogs

The only symptom of high fever is a rise in body temperature. Fever by itself does not cause any other symptoms. However, other symptoms of diseases that may cause fever can be seen together with fever. Fatigue, tremor, loss of appetite, increased heart rhythm, dehydration, rapid breathing, vomiting, coughing or runny nose are some of these symptoms. Symptoms vary according to the disease causing the fever. Fever occurs with the presence of pyrogen in the body that causes fever. Pyrogens can be produced either endogenously, that is, inside the body, or exogenous, that is, they can be taken from the outside. It causes the secretion of leukocytes, namely white blood cells, such as pyrogen, interleukin-1, interleukin-2, tumor necrosis factor. These chemicals work to regulate the area of ​​the hypothalamus that controls body temperature. This leads to the activation of physiological responses in the body to raise body temperature.

dog with thermometer in mouth

How Does Fever Affect the Body?

“What should be the fever in dogs?” The answer to the question is obvious. One of the important points here is how fever affects the body. Body temperature rises to prevent the proliferation of viruses and bacteria inside. It also strengthens the immune system’s response to foreign invaders. However, if the body temperature stays above 40.5°C, patients become tired and anorexic. The body loses water very quickly. Keeping the body temperature above 41.1°C causes edema in the brain. Bone marrow is suppressed and coagulation disorders called disseminated intravascular coagulation occur.

High fever has certain consequences for the body. Metabolic needs increase to keep body temperature high. For this reason, while the body’s fluid and calorie needs increase, the destruction of muscle tissue accelerates. Failure to reduce high fever for approximately 48 hours leads to serious life-threatening conditions.

sick dog lying on sofa

What Causes Fever in Dogs?

“What causes fever in dogs?” There is more than one answer to the question. Infection is one of the most common causes of fever. When the infection occurs, the body temperature rises. Many bacteria, viruses or fungi are heat sensitive and cannot survive at high body temperature. Another condition that causes high fever is an allergic reaction. Different types of allergies, such as food allergy, dust allergy or flea bite allergy, cause elevated body temperature. However, various toxins and some medical drugs that cause harmful effects in the body also cause an increase in body temperature. Mild fever is common after vaccination in dogs. Body temperature rises as there is an infection in the body. However, this increase is not very much and usually disappears within 48 hours. Excessive anxiety in dogs also causes fever. Rapid breathing and rapid movement cause a slight increase in temperature.

dog looking after veterinarian holding thermometer

How to Measure Fever in Dogs

The temperature of the dogs is measured with a thermometer. A rectal measurement is required to accurately measure body temperature in dogs. There are digital thermometers for this. Thermometers intended for humans should not be used. These thermometers give false results in dogs.

Before measuring with a thermometer, lubricating the tip with baby oil or vegetable oil makes it easier to measure. Afterwards, it is sufficient to insert the thermometer approximately 1.5 cm from the dog’s anus. Keeping the thermometer in this position until the temperature measurement is completed is important in terms of getting accurate results.

Detailed information should be given to the veterinarian for high fever. Other remarkable symptoms in the dog, a recent illness or medications used by the dog, known allergies of the dog should be reported to the veterinarian. When diagnosing high fever, physical examination is checked for swelling in the lymph nodes and abdomen. Joints are examined for pain and signs of infection or other abnormalities are looked for.

A complete blood count, biochemical profile and urinalysis may be required to find out what is causing the high fever. In this way, metabolic and endocrine problems that may cause fever are controlled.

dog lying on treatment table in veterinary clinic

How to Reduce Fever in Dogs?

If the dog’s fever is 39.4°C and above, you should take the dog to the veterinarian for examination. In cases where the fever is 41.1°C and above, emergency intervention is required. Otherwise, high fever is life-threatening. To reduce your dog’s fever at home, you can wipe the pads of his paws and ears with a wet cloth. Putting ice in a towel and applying cold compresses to the dog’s chest and abdomen also help reduce fever. You should also keep your dog in a cool environment. When the dog’s fever rises, it should never be given to human antipyretics. Aspirin and paracetamol can cause toxic effects in dogs.

Serum binding may be required in order to meet the increased water requirement of the dog’s body and to restore the electrolyte balance of the body. In case of fever due to infection, antibiotic treatment may be required to treat the infection. Surgery is rarely preferred for the treatment of diseases that cause fever.

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