Fever is one of the things that you notice only when you’re paying close attention.
It can be recognized by signs such as decreased appetite, lethargy, weakness, fast breathing or panting. These symptoms are not very specific, though, and can be caused by other things as well.
A dog’s normal temperature falls between 99.5 and 102.5 Fahrenheit.
A temperature of 103.5° F or higher is considered a fever.
The range between 102.5 and 103.5 is somewhat ambiguous. A dog who has been running around on a hot day may temporarily have a temperature in this range and be perfectly normal. On the other hand, a dog with a temperature of 103.2 who has just been lying around probably has a fever.
What’s the difference between fever and hyperthermia?
They both refer to abnormally high body temperature. Fever, however, is a specific form of hyperthermia where the temperature rises as part of immune function. This is different from hyperthermia caused by inadequate means of heat dissipation or problem with thermoregulation.
The purpose of a fever is to enhance the functioning of the immune system and to create an inhospitable environment for invading organisms.
Elevated body temperature helps certain types of immune cells to work better. What does that mean? While extremely high fever is dangerous, mild fever is functional and assists in the healing process. So the trick is to know when to allow the fever to do its thing and when to intervene. When temperatures reach 106 F, serious and fatal complications can occur.
After her horrible drug-induced hyperthermia, it’s always been very hard for me not to panic when Jasmine’s temperature rose even a little bit. And, unfortunately, increased body temperature was part of her episodes.
For me, the do-something point was 103.5° F.
I’d never use a fever-reducing drug, though. I just cooled with wet towels. If your dog’s temperature hits about 104.5° F it’s time to talk to a vet immediately.
The most common cause of fever is an infection.
Other things that can be behind your dog’s fever are immune-mediated diseases, tumors, metabolic or endocrine disease, inflammatory conditions, certain drugs, and toxins.
Vaccination can cause a low-grade fever for about 24 to 48 hours after administration. Stress, agitation, exercise, and high ambient temperatures can also increase your dog’s body temperature.