High Fever in Dogs (cont.)

Causes of Dog Fever

A variety of illnesses and conditions may make your dog run a fever. These include:

  • Infection. This may have any number of causes, including bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases. Infection may be anywhere in the body, such as the lungs (pneumonia), the kidneys (pyelonephritis) or the brain (encephalitis). The symptoms you see will depend on where the infection is focused and the underlying cause. Some infections, such as fungal diseases, can affect several areas of the body at the same time.
  • Vaccination. A low-grade fever for 24 to 48 hours after vaccination is not uncommon and results from the interaction between the injection and the dog's immune system.
  • Toxins. Consuming substances that are poisonous to dogs, including macadamia nuts and some human antidepressants, can result in increased body temperature.

There are times when the cause of dog fever cannot be readily determined; this is called "fever of unknown origin", or FUO. The most likely causes for dog fever of unknown origin are disorders of the immune system, bone marrow problems, undiagnosed infections, and cancer.

Home Care and When to Call the Vet

If your dog has a temperature greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit, you should call your veterinarian. Dogs with high fevers above 106 degrees Fahrenheit are emergencies that must be treated promptly.

If your dog has a temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, you can help bring his body temperature down by applying cool water to his fur, especially around the ears and feet. Using a fan on the damp fur will help lower the temperature. Be sure to monitor your dog's rectal temperature as you do this, and stop the cooling procedure once it reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your dog has a fever, try to see that he drinks small amounts of water on a regular basis to stay hydrated, but don't force it. And never give your dog any human medicines intended to lower fever, such as acetaminophen or aspirin, as they can be poisonous to dogs and cause severe injury or death.

SOURCES:

Veterinary Information Network web site, Veterinarypartner.org: “Fever.”

Veterinary Information Network web site, Veterinarypartner.org: “Hyperthermia (Heat Stroke, Heat Prostration).”

Veterinary Information Network web site, Veterinarypartner.org: “Distemper.”

Veterinary Information Network web site, Veterinarypartner.org: “Canine Influenza.”

Veterinary Information Network web site, Veterinarypartner.org: “Vaccine FAQ and General Information.”

The Merck Veterinary Manual web site: “Fever of Unknown Origin.”

ASPCA web site: “Foods that are Hazardous to Dogs.”

ASPCA Professional web site: “Antidepressant drug overdoses in dogs.”