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What Is A Fever In Cats And Dogs?

What Is A Fever In Cats And Dogs?

If your dog or cat has a body temperature that seems higher than usual, they may have a fever. Our pets naturally have higher temperatures than us, so it's important to know when your cat or dog is running a fever. Our Concord veterinary team explains more in today's post.

Fever In Dogs & Cats

A fever is when a body temperature is high than normal, usually as a reaction to inflammation or infection. A rise in the body's temperature is a part of a defense response and plays an important role. In cats and dogs, a rectal temperature of 102.6ºF (39.2ºC) is considered abnormal. Today, learn more about signs of fever in dogs and cats and what to do if your pet isn't feeling well. 

Causes Of Fever In Cats & Dogs

Besides underlying causes like infection and inflammation, a fever or raised temperature can be caused by diseases affecting the immune system, trauma causing damage to the body's tissues, heat stroke, tumors, allergic reactions, seizures, pain, stress, exertion from exercise, and in reaction to vaccines and certain types of medication. 

Fever Symptoms In Dogs & Cats

  • Dullness, lack of energy/lethargy
  • Anxiety or nervous behaviors
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Reduction in appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Gums that are redder/pinker than usual
  • Increased heart rate 

If you notice these symptoms in conjunction with your pet's raised temperature, contact your veterinarian for advice. If your cat or dog's temperature is above 104ºF (40ºC), head to an emergency veterinary clinic right away, as this is considered urgent.

Diagnosing Fevers In Cats & Dogs

To determine whether your cat or dog has a high temperature, you should take a rectal temperature for the most accurate results. The ears, nose, tongue, or paws are not reliable ways of detecting fever in dogs and cats. Keep in mind also that your animal at rest has a temperature of about 100ºF (38ºC), but it is advised to take your pet's temperature a few times when they're feeling well, so you know the normal temperature range for your unique cat or dog. 

Treating Fevers In Pets

If your dog or cat has a mild temperature rise (below 102ºF / 39.2ºC) but otherwise seems to be fine, it's usually all right to wait and watch them closely for other signs that something may be amiss. You may also want to get in touch with your primary veterinarian for advice to see if they think your pet needs to come in. In the meanwhile, make sure your pet rests, is drinking water (don't force them!), and has an appetite. 

If your pet is showing signs of underlying infection or condition or doesn't show signs of improving, your vet is likely to recommend an examination. They may take blood samples, X-rays or ultrasounds to begin identifying what the problem is. The best course of action as chosen by your vet will be determined by the cause. Sometimes, your pet may need to stay at the clinic for monitoring and treatment, such as a drip (intravenous fluid therapy).

Preventing Infections In Dogs & Cats 

Just as in humans, it is nearly impossible to prevent any infection from getting through the body's defenses at some point in an animal's life. Ensuring that your cat or dog is properly vaccinated and protected from parasites that can cause serious diseases gives them a greater chance of avoiding illness or recovering more successfully if they do become sick. Additionally, knowing your pet's behaviors will make it easier to spot when they are displaying abnormal symptoms that could indicate they are feeling unwell. If your pet is sick, keep their toys and food and water bowls away from healthy household pets to reduce the likelihood of infections spreading. 

When To Contact A Veterinarian 

If your pet is running a high temperature and seems under the weather, or you are concerned about other symptoms your cat or dog is exhibiting, get in touch with your vet for advice. If your pet's temperature is above 104ºF (40ºC), contact an emergency veterinary hospital right away.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet has a fever and seems generally unwell, don't hesitate! Contact our Concord veterinarians to book an appointment or head to your local emergency veterinary hospital for urgent or emergency care for your cat or dog.

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Four Corners Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for the health of your precious companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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