fevers in pets
What is a fever?
Simply put, a fever is an elevated body temperature in response to infection or inflammation.
A fever shouldn’t be confused with what we term “non-pyrogenic hyperthermia,” which is elevated body temperature due to increased exercise, extreme environmental heat or heat stroke, or prolonged seizures.
What is a normal body temperature for pets?
A normal body temperature in our pets is higher than it is in us. A rectal temperature of 101 to 102.5 is considered normal for cats and dogs.
And that’s right – I said rectal temperature. It's generally the more accurate and safest method of taking temperature in a pet.
How fevers affect pets
In general, fevers affect pets by:
- Making the patient feel terrible, and usually lead to lack of appetite and a decreased nutritional state
- Leading to the production of endotoxins, which can complicate illness.
- Straining the ability of the heart to function normally.
- Causing seizures and brain damage, if they are prolonged.
How to tell if your pet has a fever
Unfortunately, you cannot tell if your pet has a fever in any way other than taking a rectal temperature. The wetness or dryness of your pet’s nose, as well as whether or not your pet’s nose is warm or cold, is irrelevant in terms of internal temperature.
If your pet is acting lethargic, shivering or doesn’t seem interested in eating, he or she may have a fever.
What to do if your pet's temperature is too high
If you suspect your pet does have a fever, call your vet and arrange to have your pet seen as soon as possible. In the meantime, do not give over-the-counter human medications! Many, many, many things can cause fever, and the sooner your vet figures out what is causing your pet’s fever, the sooner he or she can be on the road to recovery.