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Fever in Dogs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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A fever is defined as abnormally high body temperature resulting from internal controls. It is believed that fever is a method of fighting infection. The body resets the temperature control area of the brain to increase the body temperature – probably in response to invasion of foreign matter such as bacteria or viruses. Since many invaders do not thrive in hot environments, by increasing the temperature of the body, these invaders can be destroyed.

This is different from hyperthermia, which is an increase in body temperature due to external influences such as hot weather, inability to pant or sweat. The brain does not intend for the body temperature to increase.

Fever is usually differentiated from hyperthermia based on the animal's recent environment, for example if he was in a hot car or just went for a long jog in 100 degree heat, as well as the animal's response to the increased temperature. Animals that pant excessively and have increased heart and respiratory rates are typically victims of overheating (hyperthermia). Fever animals do not exhibit significant distress.

The normal temperature in dogs is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Causes of Fever

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Drug related
  • Immune system disease
  • Idiopathic – cause not determined. This is also referred to as fever of unknown origin.

    What to Watch For

  • Lethargy
  • Behavior changes such as "crankiness"
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Hiding
  • Swellings or lumps (abscesses or tumors)
  • Draining wounds

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