My Dog’s Head Is Hot – What To Do Now

A dog with a cold pack on its head.

As a pet owner, the first thing you may do when your dog has a fever is hit the panic button. The good news, however, is that there may be no need to fear. When it comes to running a fever, dogs differ greatly from humans. While a normal body temperature for us ranges from 97.6 to 99.6 Fahrenheit, a dog’s normal is from 101 to 102.5 F. It’s only natural for your dog’s body to be warmer than yours.

Your dog may not be running a fever at all. A temperature of more than 103 F is considered a dog fever. On the flip side, you may not be out of the woods just yet. Despite their warmer body temperature, your dog could be ill. If this is the case, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

There are a few things that might be the reason your dog is running a fever. An infection or an external factor can be the cause. The frustrating part is that many of the symptoms are the same as when your dog eats ham bones. They are as follows: 

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Red eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Dry nose
  • Shivering

Your dog will most definitely have at least one of these symptoms if he’s running a fever. When it comes to the cause of his fever, however, the reason could be a few things.

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The Causes of Your Dog’s Fever

There are many different illnesses that could be the cause of your dog’s fever. There are a few that tend to be more common than others. The most common are:

  • Infection
  • Toxins
  • Vaccinations

An Infection May Be the Source

Infections are often the scariest cause of a fever–they can be minor or serious. This is why it’s important to find it as early as possible. Infections can come in three varieties: bacterial, fungal and viral. They can also set up shop anywhere in the body, such as the brain, kidneys, lungs, and skin. 

A few of the most common infections your dog may experience are as follows:

  • Ear infection
  • Infected bite or cut
  • Infected tooth
  • Urinary tract infection

If you feel the sense your dog has some sort of infection, call your vet immediately.

Your Dog May Have Eaten Something Toxic

This is another common occurrence–as dogs are notorious for getting into things they shouldn’t.  There are many items humans indulge in that can be poisonous to their furry friend. These include macadamia nuts and artificial sweeteners found in chocolate, such as xylitol.

In addition to human foods that are toxic to your dog, there are other factors that are dangerous for your pet if ingested. These include antifreeze and human medications. Naturally, you would never purposely allow your dog to take part in anything dangerous to him, but dogs sometimes can’t help themselves. If your dog has ingested food that’s toxic to him–and not treated immediately–it could result in death. If you think there’s the slightest chance, you should contact the Pet Poison Helpline.

A dog getting vaccinated.

Just like with humans, it’s also possible for a dog to have a fever after getting a vaccine.

A Recent Vaccination May Be the Cause

Dogs get vaccinations all the time. They play a vital role in the overall health of your pet. However, a recent vaccination can sometimes be the cause of a fever in your dog, and the same is true for humans. It’s not uncommon for your dog to have a fever for 24 to 48 hours after having a vaccination. This is due to how the injection interacts with your dog’s immune system.

If your dog succumbs to fever, you want it to be because of a recent vaccination. This is a problem that will take care of itself and your dog will be back to normal after the 24 to 48 hour period. If you suspect that you’re dog is running a fever that isn’t due to a recent vaccination, the first thing you should do is take his temperature.

Taking Your Dog’s Temperature

When it comes to taking your dog’s temperature, the process is much easier said than done. Finding the right thermometer can be difficult and the next step can be harder than that. First and foremost, there are two different types of thermometers you can use: a digital and a rectal thermometer. 

A digital thermometer is quick and easy to use. The problem is that it doesn’t always give the most accurate reading. Due to this, if your dog has a fever of 103 F, you may only see 102 F with your digital tool.  Let’s say you do opt for the digital version, taking your dog’s temperature doesn’t get simpler. All you need to do is insert the tip into your dog’s ear without going too far. You have your reading in a matter of seconds.

A dog with thermometer near its rectum.

It’s best to have your dog lying down on its side before inserting a rectal thermometer.

A rectal thermometer is the most accurate but the most difficult to use. Your dog will more than likely pitch a fit if this version goes anywhere near him. If you choose this route, you may want to have someone hold your dog still. The next step is to place some sort of lubricant on the tip before inserting it into your dog. Once it’s in, keep it there for around 45 seconds before taking it out to read the temperature.

Everything in a Nutshell

No pet owner alive wants to think of the chance that their dog may be sick. This is especially true for first-time pet owners who don’t know what to do next. The fact of the matter is, however, that you must take action. Time is of the essence when it comes to your dog running a fever.

For example, if your dog has an infection or ate something toxic, the result could be death. The best-case scenario is that your dog’s fever is a result of a recent vaccination. The most important thing you can do is always have a thermometer on hand so you know when it’s time to contact your vet.

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.