You are probably familiar with the common method many dog owners have relied on for years to see if their dog has a fever – feel his nose. If the nose is wet and cold, he’s fine. But if it’s hot and dry, he probably has a fever, right? Well sometimes it can be a little bit more complicated than that. It can be a challenge to know for sure whether or not your dog has a fever. Keep reading to learn more about detecting a fever in your dog, what could be the cause of the fever, its associated symptoms, and what to do if your dog has a fever. 

What is a Dog’s Normal Temperature?

Unlike people, whose normal body temperature ranges between 97.6-99.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a dog’s normal body temperature can range from 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a pet thermometer to check your dog’s temperature. 

If your dog’s temperature rises above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, your dog has a fever. If the temperature reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit, your dog has a very high fever and is at risk of serious, possibly fatal complications. 

What Causes a Fever in Dogs?

Just like for people, there can be countless reasons for why your dog has developed a fever. These include:

  • Bacterial, viral or fungal infection
  • Ear infection
  • Tooth infection or abscess
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Infected bite, cut or scratch
  • Ingestion of poisonous materials, such as toxic plants, antifreeze, human medications, and human foods that are toxic to dogs 

What are the Symptoms of Fever in Dogs?

Unlike people, your dog cannot tell you when he is sick or has a fever. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with the symptoms that can indicate that your pup has a fever. Any combination of the following symptoms is a good indicator that you may need to check your dog’s temperature. 

Here are some of the most common signs of fever in dogs: 

  • Red or glassy eyes – Shivering
  • Decreased energy – Coughing
  • Warm ears and/or nose – Loss of appetite
  • Runny nose – Vomiting

How to Use a Thermometer on Your Dog

Detecting a fever in your dog can often be difficult because their body temperature constantly changes throughout the day and increases when they become excited or stressed. The most accurate way to check your dog’s temperature is to use a digital thermometer for rectal use; you can often find them made specifically for pets at your local pet store. 

Here is a step-by-step process to help you when taking your dog’s temperature: 

  • Make sure that your dog is calm. You can do this by offering him some treats during the process or by having someone hold your dog still.


  • Lubricate the end of the thermometer. Lubrication will allow the thermometer to slide easily into your dog’s rectum for better comfort. You can use lubrication gel, jelly, vegetable oil, or soap.


  • Gently lift your dog’s tail. Once your dog is calm, gently lift his tail and locate the rectum. 
  • Insert the thermometer into the rectum. Insert the metal-coated tip only! Lower your dog’s tail once the thermometer is in. Turn the thermometer on.
  • Wait 10 – 30 seconds.
  • Clean the thermometer. Clean thoroughly and put away for pet use only. 

How to Reduce a Dog’s Fever 

If your dog has a fever, you can help to keep them cool by applying cool water with a soaked towel or cloth to their ears and paws; you may also want to let a fan run near your dog. Once your dog’s temperature has dropped below 103 degrees, you can stop applying the water, but make sure you continue monitoring your dog to make sure that their fever does not return. 

You should also try to get your pup to drink small amounts of water. This will help them to stay hydrated. If your dog’s fever worsens or does not get any better, you should consider taking your dog to the vet. 

When to Bring Your Dog to the Vet

Once your dog’s temperature reaches 103 degrees or higher, he is considered to have a fever. It is important to go ahead and take your pet to the vet’s office. If the temperature reaches 106 degrees or higher, it can cause damage to your dog’s organs and can be fatal; it is imperative to not wait until it gets to that point. 

Whether your dog is needing a wellness checkup, preventative care, or emergency services, our caring, professional team is here to help! Call or visit us today to schedule your pet’s next checkup!