Puppy Fever: What to do when Your Puppy has a Temperature

It can be hard to tell when your puppy has a fever, simply because your puppy can’t actually tell you that it is not feeling well. Even when you know that your puppy is not its usual self, knowing the exact cause of your puppy’s discomfort can be hard to guess. As such, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of common illnesses such as fever to ensure that your puppy gets the best care. With appropriate treatment, your puppy will be back to its playful, mischievous self in a few days.  

Why would a puppy have a fever? 

Similar to humans, fever in puppies usually happens when your dog is trying to fight off an infection or inflammation. Here are a few reasons as to why your dog temperature may rise. 

  • Infection - Your puppy may have contracted a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. For example, an infected cut or urinary tract infection can be the reason why your puppy has a fever. It’s best to head to the vet immediately if you suspect that infection is the reason for the fever. 
  • Toxins - Your puppy may have eaten something that he is not supposed to, such as household cleaning products or human medication. Again, it is best to head to the vet if you know that your puppy’s body is reacting to toxins. 
  • Recent vaccinations - It is not unusual for puppies to develop low grade fevers 24 to 48 hours after receiving a vaccination. Unless it doesn’t clear up within 2 to 3 days, these fevers are usually nothing to worry about. 

Normal puppy temperature 

A puppy’s normal temperature always ranges between 37.5ºC and 39.2Cº. This means that your puppy will usually feel warm to the touch. While some puppies (and adult dogs) maintain an above average baseline temperature, a temperature above 40.0ºC warrants an immediate visit to the veterinarian. 

A temperature above 41.0ºC can cause internal organ damage and because it can be fatal, should be treated as a serious emergency. 

How to tell if your puppy has a fever? 

It’s important to be able to tell when your puppy has a fever because it is unable to tell you if something is wrong. Here are signs and symptoms that your puppy may be having a temperature:

  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Warm ears
  • Warm and dry nose
  • Shivering
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Red eyes
  • Depression

If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian or if you feel comfortable, you can take your puppy’s temperature with an ear or rectal thermometer designed specially for puppies. 

puppy
Photo by T.R Photography on Unsplash

Puppy fever treatment 

The treatment for fevers in puppies is dependent on the cause. For example, if there is an infection, your puppy may need antibiotics or other medications to help fight off the bacteria. 

As such, it is best to bring your puppy to the veterinarian if you suspect that it has a fever. Your vet will run the necessary tests to determine the cause of your puppy’s fever. If your puppy’s fever is severe, it might need IV fluids and anti-inflammatory medications. 

It is important that you DO NOT give your puppy human fever medication as it can be toxic for your dog as well as prevent the use of other medications that can help to lower your pet’s temperature. 

At home, you can work to lower your puppy’s temperature by applying cool water to its paws and around its ears. To ensure that your puppy stays hydrated, encourage it to drink a little water. However, do ensure that your dog does not gulp down too much at one go and this can cause it to vomit. You do not want to end up with a puppy with severe dehydration. 

As some fevers are caused by viruses, germs and bacteria, balanced and nutritious food will help keep its immune system strong and keep sickness at bay. You can also add Petcubes’ bone broth to your pet’s diet to boost it’s immune system

Puppy fever teething

Puppies are born without teeth. Their baby teeth come in between 3 to 4 weeks of age. These teeth will fall out to make space for permanent adult teeth when your pup is about 4 to 5 months old. Your dog should have all its adult teeth by the time it is 5 to 7 months old. Your puppy’s breed also plays a role in when the teeth start to grow. 

Your puppy may experience a little discomfort in their jaw when they are teething. Although generally a smooth and normal process, some puppies do experience a slight fever when teething, just like human babies! If your puppy shows signs of fever when it is teething, do monitor it and make sure that its body temperature is not too high. 

Conclusion

Fever in puppies can be worrisome but a visit to the veterinarian and some medication will soon make your pet well again. Be alert if your puppy is not its usual self and look out for the above mentioned signs if you think that your puppy is warmer than usual. If you are unsure, a visit to the veterinarian is the safest choice that you can make for your puppy. Check out this article for more information on fever in dogs.
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