Does My Dog Have a Fever? How To Tell and What To Do

The sight of our furry best friends feeling under the weather can be terrifying and often leave us feeling helpless. We love our pets like children, and similarly, when they are under the weather, the first thing that we want to do is rush them to the vet to see what’s going on. However, vet bills are expensive and it can be difficult to carve time out of our busy schedules to see the vet unexpectedly. So here are some easy methods that you can use at home to figure out whether or not your dog has a fever and what you can do to help.

5 Ways To Tell If Your Dog Has a Fever

Dog’s bodies are very different from our own. While the normal body temperature for a typical adult ranges from 97 degrees Fahrenheit to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, average body temperature for a dog runs a bit higher. Your dog’s body temperature should be between 101.0 degrees Fahrenheit and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog’s temperature rises above or falls below this range, it is time to take them to the vet as a temperature that reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit can be serious and potentially deadly. 

Loss of Appetite

Just like in humans, a fever can be accompanied by a loss of appetite. If your dog is usually food motivated and suddenly seems to have no interest in their kibble or favorite treats, this could be a cause for concern, especially if your dog is also exhibiting other symptoms at the same time. 

While a loss in appetite in dogs doesn’t always mean that there is a more serious underlying condition, it is important to seek veterinary attention if your dog is not regularly known to be a picky eater. A trip to the veterinarian will help you rule out more serious reasons for the loss of appetite and help you come up with a treatment plan to get them back to normal.

If your dog has a loss of appetite, you may find that you have to temporarily alter their diet, which can help with stomach upset. As always, be sure to follow the guidance of your vet. 


It is possible that your pet’s fever will also be accompanied by vomiting. This could mean that your dog is fighting off a virus or that they ingested something that is making them ill. 

Dog vomit can contain yellow bile or bits of dog food that have been partially digested. It might also have a distinct sour smell. 

If your dog has ingested a foreign object, such as bits of their toy, pieces of a rug, or grass, you might see bits of these objects come up, helping you identify what caused the stomach upset. After vomiting, your dog might try to gulp down a large amount of water, as they will likely be dehydrated. Try limiting water consumption to only small amounts as drinking the water too fast might lead to more vomiting.


Dogs sleep for more than 11 hours a day, so more often than not, you will likely see your pet catching some shut eye. But, if you have noticed a sudden change in your pet’s energy levels, such as taking excessive naps or a loss of interest in their favorite activities, your pet could potentially have a fever. 

While lethargy in and of itself does not mean that your pet is sick, it can be a symptom of illness or a more serious medical condition. If you notice that your dog has been lethargic for a prolonged period of time (weeks) or doesn’t seem to be able to regain their energy back after a bout of illness, then you will want to consult your vet.


When you notice your dog start excessively coughing, this is usually a symptom of an underlying condition affecting their respiratory system. Allergies and asthma are two large contributors to coughing in canines. 

Coughing might occur if your dog has an allergy to second-hand smoke, certain foods, medications, vaccinations, or changes in temperature during the summer or winter months. 

Asthma generally affects younger dogs, but can become present at any age and in any breed. You may find that your dog has flare ups during extended periods of exercise or when the weather changes. A dog that has asthma might have difficulty inhaling or catching their breath, which will often lead to them producing a wheezing sound.

Excessive coughing could be a sign of diseases and viruses such as Heartworm, Pneumonia, Canine Distemper Virus, or Valley Fever, which would need to be promptly treated by a veterinarian. These diseases and viruses are often accompanied by other common symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and lethargy. 

Another infectious disease that is related to canine coughing is kennel cough which is a common respiratory infection that most dogs experience at least once in their lives. It usually clears up on its own within three weeks and does not need treatment. But, if you don’t see improvement or the cough has lasted for more than six weeks, you should seek medical advice from your vet.

Nasal Discharge

It is not uncommon for healthy dogs to have an occasional runny nose and is generally not a cause of concern. However, if you notice that your dog has a nose discharge of pus or mucus this could be an indication that they are fighting a fungal, bacterial, or viral infection. 

If your dog has a mild runny nose you might notice watery discharge and occasional sneezing. A more severe runny nose is characterized by thick nasal discharge that is not clear, and may contain pus or blood. 

For some dogs nasal discharge is not a cause for concern and is normal, but if your dog’s condition changes suddenly or symptoms occur out of the blue, make sure to consult your vet. 

At Home Treatments

Before you make a visit to your vet, there are a few steps that you can take at home to help lower your dog’s fever. 

Try placing a cool washcloth on your dog’s paws or ears. This will help bring down their temperature. 

Make sure that they have access to fresh water. You might consider placing a few ice cubes in the bowl if the water is lukewarm. 

Consider giving them a quiet, comfortable area to rest and recover, such as a dog bed, blanket, or a spot on cool tile. Giving them a quiet place to rest will help recovery go faster.

If you visited your vet and they prescribed medication, make sure to follow their instructions. Also, refrain from giving your pet over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and always heed your veterinarian’s advice.

If you are in the Tucson area and need a vet, call Acoma Animal Clinic to schedule an appointment today!

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