It’s not always easy to determine if a pet has a fever or not. The general way many pet owners decide if their dog or cat is running a temperature is by feeling their nose. If it’s wet and cool, that’s a good sign the pet is healthy, but if it’s dry and hot that could mean the pet has a fever. However, there are better signs of fever in pets. Pet parents can tell right away when a pet isn’t feeling well, especially when they pass up their favorite meal. We can also tell if they’re warm by touching them. If your pet is running a fever, you need to know for sure, otherwise, you may miss the reason for their fever. The best way to know for certain is to actually take their temperature using a rectal thermometer.
Symptoms and Causes of Fever in Dogs and Cats
The first thing to remember is that our pet’s body temperature is higher than ours. We have a normal body temperature of 97.6 to 99.6. A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The normal temperature for cats is 100.4 to 102.5 degrees. Indications of a fever include loss of appetite, lack of energy, depression, shivering, a runny nose, coughing and dehydration, lack of grooming or vomiting.
An infection or inflammation can produce a fever in pets. Anytime their body temperature is over 103 degrees Fahrenheit is cause for concern. A temperature of 106 degrees or higher can damage a pet’s internal organs and can be fatal. High fever in cats isn’t as harmful to them as it is for dogs, but it’s always best to get a high fever down as quickly as possible. If you can’t bring it down on your own within a day or two, a trip to the vet is recommended for specialized care and to determine why they have a fever.
A fever can be an indication your pet is fighting an infection inside the body or outside. An unnoticed cut on a paw pad or between toes could have become infected. A bite or scratch from another dog or cat, an ear infection, a bad tooth or an abscess (common in cats) can cause infection. Urinary tract infection, pneumonia, encephalitis, fungal, bacterial or viral diseases can all cause your pet to run a fever. Complications during birth can also cause a pet to have a fever.
Dogs often pick up things they find on the ground, and both dogs and cats will nibble on plants. Many inside and outside plants are toxic to pets and can cause them to have a fever. Antifreeze poisoning, human medications, eating toxic human food or drinking alcohol can cause a rise in body temperature. If you suspect poisoning, take your pet to the vet immediately.