Fever

April 12, 2012

Normally, a dog’s temperature would range from 99.5 °F to 102 °F. Animals have a thermoregulatory center in the brain which regulates body temperature. This temperature control area in the brain resets the normal body temperature to an abnormally high temperature in an attempt to fight the damaging effects of bacteria and viruses. Fever is the body’s fighter that will destroy these invaders as bacteria and viruses would not flourish in hot surroundings. Fever can be easily diagnosed by using a rectal thermometer. What can be pretty challenging is finding the underlying cause of the fever. Various tests are needed to determine the cause of infection.

Symptoms

Some dogs would continue to be lively and active in spite of an elevated temperature. This only means that the dog’s immune system is capable of fighting whatever is causing the fever. However, in some dogs a slight increase in temperature would cause the dog to be lethargic, to be depressed and to shun food and water. Some dogs with fever are known to shiver, to have a running nose, to cough and to vomit. The color of the dog’s gums would indicate that the pet has a fever. Healthy normal gums are pinkish. Cloudy eyes are another indication that the dog is sick.

Some fevers are idiopathic. This means that the origin or the cause is not ascertained. Most fevers though are caused by bacterial and viral infections. The dog is exposed to viruses that are air born. Fever may be due to inflammations that are caused by fleas and ticks. Parasites like heart worm and tape worm destroys the tissues in the dog’s heart thus causing fever. The main function of the immune system is to seek and fight invaders that would cause infection in the body. High temperatures however can be caused by an immunological disease that attacks the body’s own cells.

Prevention

Viral infections being airborne are unpreventable. The same is true with other kinds of infections. However, keeping the environment clean and avoiding contacts with other sick pets can lessen the dog’s exposure to infection. Sterilizing the dog’s bowl, feeder, toys and other accessories and spraying the beddings, crate and kennel with disinfectant is an added precautionary measure to lessen the spread of infection to other pets. Proper nutrition will also lessen the pet’s susceptibility to diseases.

Treatment

Fever in dogs can only be diagnosed by using a rectal thermometer to get the temperature. Dogs with mild fevers (less than 104.5°F) are known to recover on their own especially if the dog continues to ingest food. The fever can be lowered by sponging the pet with solution made by mixing a one is to one ratio of water and alcohol. Do not give the pet aspirin or other medications used by humans as the drug may be poisonous to animals.

Body temperature that is above 106 degrees would need immediate attention as the condition can be life threatening especially if the dog is listless and refuse to eat. It would be better if the dog will be encouraged to drink small quantities of water but do not force the dog as the pet may aspirate. An alcohol and water compress or a cool pack placed on top of the dog’s head will protect the brain from the effects of elevated temperature. If the dog is straining to urinate or if there is blood in the urine, if there are skin lumps and abscesses, taking the dog to the vet is definitely a must.

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