Last Week: HOW TO Treat Your Dog’s Diarrhea
The prospect of having to take your dog’s temperature probably appeals to you as much as having to express his anal glands or clip his nails. But you should know how to do it nevertheless, just in case you ever need to determine if he has a fever and needs to see a veterinarian.
It’s important to know that unlike people, dogs don’t become warm when they have a fever, so feeling your pooch’s head, ears or nose for heat doesn’t give any indication of his internal temperature. And just because your dog has a warm or moist nose doesn’t necessarily mean he’s running a fever, either.
Dr. Jon Rappaport addresses this myth on petplace.com. “I believe that the nose temperature and moisture rule is an ‘old wives’ tale,’” he writes. “I’ve found no correlation between nose temperature and moisture and a dog’s overall body temperature or health. The only way to tell accurately if a dog has a fever is to take its temperature the good old-fashioned way – with a thermometer.”
You can use a rectal or ear thermometer to take your dog’s temperature, although a rectal thermometer is more accurate. A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature higher than 102 degrees is considered a fever, so you should take him to the vet to find out the cause.
If your dog’s temperature is below 99 degrees or above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, rush him to the vet or an animal emergency hospital immediately, recommends woodhavenlabs.com.
What are the Symptoms of a Fever in My Dog?
Since you can’t determine if your dog has a fever just by touching him, here are some of the symptoms petplace.com says to look for before you break out the thermometer:
Lack of energy
Behavior changes, such as crankiness
Not eating or drinking
Swellings or lumps (abscesses or tumors)
What Can Cause My Dog to have a Fever?
Your dog’s fever could be due to a number of health issues. These are the most common, according to petplace.com:
Immune system disease
Idiopathic (the cause is not determined)
If you live in an area with tick infestations, your dog may have life-threatening Rocky Mountain spotted fever, according to buzzle.com. The fever is caused by a bite from an infected tick. The symptoms include high fever (up to 104 degrees Farenheit), breathing difficulties, swollen lymph glands, lack of appetite and energy, sudden nose bleeds and/or bloody stools. Your dog’s urine, especially if he’s a male, may be brown in color.
Another extremely serious type of fever in dogs is eclampsia, or milk fever. Due to low blood calcium levels, the mother of whelping puppies can come down with this fever one to three weeks after giving birth, according to peteducation.com. The symptoms are stiffness, nervousness, restlessness and loss of interest in the puppies. In severe cases the dog may have seizures.
To determine the exact cause of your dog’s fever, your vet will probably perform some of these tests:
Complete blood count (CBC) – Dogs with a fever usually have an elevated white blood cell count
Chemistry profile – Detects any organ impairment
Blood smear – Detects blood parasites
How Do I Take My Dog’s Temperature Rectally?
You can use either a digital or mercury rectal thermometer. You don’t need to buy one that’s specifically for animals. However, for health and general ickiness reasons, you should purchase a separate thermometer exclusively for your dog.
If you use a mercury thermometer, shake it by flicking your wrist until the mercury is below 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
1. Lightly lubricate just the tip of the thermometer using a dab of petroleum jelly or another water-based lubricant.
2. The person helping you should tightly hug your dog, holding his head and the front part of his body.
3. Lift your dog’s tail and slowly insert the thermometer about an inch into his rectum, which is directly below his tail. If you’re using a mercury thermometer, hold it in place for two minutes. For a digital thermometer, wait until it beeps.
4. Slowly remove the thermometer and read the temperature. A dog’s normal rectal temperature can range between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the unlikelihood that the thermometer breaks off inside your dog, peteducation.com warns that you should not panic or try to retrieve it yourself. Instead, call your vet and explain the situation.
How Do I Take My Dog’s Temperature by Ear?
If your dog refuses to have his temperature taken using the rectal method (or you really don’t wait to use that method), you can take it using an ear thermometer. You just need to take a bit of extra care to ensure you get an accurate reading.
Ear thermometers measure infrared heat waves coming from the area of the ear drum, reports petplace.com. “The ear drum is considered to be a good indicator of body temperature as it measures brain blood temperature. It is important to place the thermometer deep into the horizontal ear canal to obtain an accurate reading,” according to the website.
It is recommended that you use an ear thermometer designed for dogs and cats, with a longer probe that can go deeper in the ear canal.
To take your dog’s temperature, gently insert the thermometer deep into his ear canal. The normal ear temperature range for dogs is 100.0 to 103.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Until you’re sure you’re using the thermometer correctly, petplace.com suggests using a rectal thermometer as well, and then comparing temperatures to see if the results are close.
Are There Any Other Ways I Can Take My Dog’s Temperature?
Although it is unreliable, you can get an approximate idea of your dog’s temperature by placing a thermometer in his armpit. Follow the instructions above for taking his temperature rectally, but add one degree to his temperature. Remember, this is not an accurate method but will work in a pinch, according to dogs.about.com.
As mentioned earlier, unlike humans, you cannot detect a dog’s fever by touching him.
How Can I Boost My Dog’s Immune System?
If your dog has frequent fevers, or if your dog is healthy and you want him to stay that way, you can help improve his immune system by adding reishi supplements to his diet. Reishi is a non-toxic, herbal mushroom that’s been proven to promote normal organ function and fine-tune the immune system. i Love Dogs Reishi with Green Tea has the added boost of green tea, which also helps to strengthen your dog’s immune system.
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.