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Getting a fever sucks! You feel awful, you feel tired, and you practically can't do anything to alleviate the worst of the symptoms. You mostly just have to bide your time and wait for it to break, but there are luckily some human pharmaceuticals that can help you to that break-point.
But what if your dog gets sick? Can you help your feverish pup with over the counter medicine? If you have a tough time being sick, you just can't imagine how awful it must be for dogs when their energy gets sapped and they start feeling chills despite being covered in fur. That's why I'm going to tell you about the medications that a dog can be given so that they don't have such a tough time of it.
How to tell if your dog has a fever
How to check your dog's temperature
To take your dog's temperature, you can use a rectal thermometer. That means a thermometer with a digital display which gives results quickly, and which has no risk of breaking when inserted. The use of rectal thermometers is understandably uncomfortable for the dog, so if you can, have someone else hold her as you insert the thermometer.
The thermometer should be inserted about 2 inches for larger dogs, and at least 1 inch to get an accurate reading in smaller dogs. Use a lubricant such as Vaseline if you can.
While human blood temperature is normally around 98.6°F, a dog's normal temperature range is between 99.5°F and 102.5°F.
If your dog has a temperature higher or lower by 1 degree (98.5°F - 103.5°F), that may indicate that she has a fever.
If your dog has a temperature 2 or more degrees outside that range (97.5°F - 104.5°F), that indicates a more extreme fluctuation and you should take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
How to check for the signs of fever in a dog
If you suspect that your dog is feverish, you can look for the following symptoms:
- Nasal discharge
- Depressed mood
- Coughing/heavy panting
- Loss of appetite
- Red or glassy eyes
- A temperature over 103.5°F
If your dog has any or a combination of the above symptoms, it's an indication that she may be suffering from a fever.
What to do if your dog has a fever
When your pup comes down with a fever, try to make sure she is properly hydrated, as the excessive heat of the fever could likely leave her dehydrated.
If you find that her temperature is dangerously elevated (above 105°F), you should use a wet towel soaked in cold water to cool her down as you take her to the vet.
Feed your dog rich food to keep her strength up as her body is burning off more energy in the form of heat.
If your dog has a fever that lasts longer than 24 hours, take her to your veterinarian so that its cause can be determined.
Prescription medication for fevers in dogs
Your veterinarian might prescribe a corticosteroid such as prednisone if she thinks your dog has an immune-mediated fever. 2
It's likely that your veterinarian will prescribe IV fluids to make sure your dog stays hydrated. It's critical that your dog stays hydrated, or else her energy will be totally depleted and the fever could turn from bad to worse.
Your veterinarian will make the prescription based on what she diagnoses your dog with. Unfortunately there are quite a few things that can cause fevers and their treatments are often exclusionary.
Over the counter medicine for fevers in dogs
Always consult with a veterinarian before administering any kind of medicine to your dog, as the wrong dosage or medicine can have dangerous side effects. Your veterinarian will likely recommend you not give your dog any medication before a check up, as the medication could hide any symptoms the veterinarian will be looking for to make a diagnosis.
Buffered Aspirin can be prescribed in small doses to dogs suffering from a fever. The dosage should not exceed 81mg/10lb every 12 hours. 3
Tylenol may also be administered to a dog suffering from fever 4 , but it can be toxic to dogs, so it must be used with extreme caution, and only with the consultation of a veterinarian.
Natural remedies for fevers in dogs
Without knowing the cause of the fever, it's impossible to say whether specific natural remedies will aid in recovery. However, there are some options to address the symptoms of a feverish dog.
- Turmeric - In a 2017 study , Curcumin, a major component of turmeric, was shown to have reduced pain indicators in dogs given it as a supplement
- Boswellia - Boswellia has been shown in 2004 clinical trial to have anti-inflammatory properties in dogs with inflammatory joint and spinal disease
- CBD - Fevers can induce stress in dogs, and to help your canine companion stay calm, veterinarians have used CBD to manage anxiety in dogs, which you can get in CBD Oil for Dogs or CBD Dog Treats
When to call a vet if your dog has a fever
A dog with a high temperature may have its gums turn dark red. 5
If your dog ever has a temperature over 105°F you should immediately take your dog to a veterinarian or pet hospital.
While there is over the counter medication that can be given to feverish dogs, and there are some natural options for addressing the symptoms of a fever, these don't address what is causing the fever in the first place.
A fever is a symptom of some underlying condition and a better outcome is more likely if that condition is determined earlier. Taking your dog to be checked on by a veternarian would be the best way to ensure your pooch gets well soon.