Fever is defined as a body temperature above the range that is considered normal for a healthy animal. Time and experience have shown us what these ranges are and we know that fever is one of the body’s signs that it is dealing with an infection. It is important for dog caregivers to be able to recognize signs that their dog might have a fever and be fighting an infection, so that they know when to seek help from their veterinarian.
Animals whose bodies are actively fighting infection feel tired. All of their reserve energy is allocated to the fight. Their bodies are using up energy and resources for the battle they are waging, so they often do not feel like engaging in their usual activities. Lethargic animals might be seen lying around or they might not be seen much at all because they have found a cool place to rest out of sight. If you think that your dog is lethargic, especially if he has any specific signs of disease, like vomiting, diarrhea, cough, sneezing, or nasal discharge, he might have a fever and need a trip to the vet.
Anorexia is a term for not eating. People think that it refers only to the human disorder, anorexia nervosa, but actually “anorexia” is a medical term that refers to a patient that is not eating for any number of reasons. Fever can certainly create a sense of malaise and a feeling of overall illness that will curb appetite. It is not normal for dogs to completely refuse food for days at a time. Sometimes a single missed meal is not a cause for concern, but a pet that shows no interest in eating certainly should see a veterinarian.
- Feels warm to touch
They say “a mother knows” and I find that my clients (of both genders) know the way their dogs feel on a normal day and often report that they thought their dog felt too warm. A dog’s normal body temperature can range up to 102.5, but if your dog feels too warm to the touch, particularly on her ears and abdomen, it might be time to get more info. A sick dog’s temperature can be measured with a human thermometer used rectally. The thermometer should only be inserted into the rectum as far as the end of the silver bulb. Be sure that you label the thermometer appropriately. Mine at home says “DOG BUTT” on it, so that no human tries to obtain their own temperature orally by mistake!
Don’t underestimate your own senses when it comes to your dog. If you think she is ill, she probably is. Your veterinarian should be willing to check your dog out for you to be sure.
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