How to tell if your dog has a fever

A fever—a quick rise in body temperature—can be a scary sign of all sorts of unpleasant health conditions, from the flu to appendicitis. You can usually get a pretty good idea of whether a person has a fever with just a touch to their forehead—if it’s hotter than usual to the touch, you should probably break out the thermometer.

But what about your furry friends? Many a pet lover has probably found themselves wondering how to tell if a dog has a fever. Are dog fever symptoms similar at all to those of humans? Can dogs get fevers at all? These may just seem like questions you wish you could ask your dog, but we actually can get a pretty good idea of what it means if a dog has a fever.

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Pets that travel poorly under stress and heat
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Pets that travel poorly under stress and heat

Bulldogs

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Pugs

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Shih-tzus

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Boxers

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Burmese

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Himalayans

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Persians

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Can dogs get fevers?

They sure can. However, since a dog’s regular body temperature differs slightly from a human’s, the temperature a dog’s body must reach to be considered a “fever” differs, too. “It can be difficult to determine if dogs have a fever because their normal body temperature is higher than ours—around 101.5° F, give or take a degree,” says Chewy Vet Expert Dr. Jennifer Coates. A temperature of 102.5° F, then, can be considered “on the upper end of the normal range” for a dog’s body temperature, and anything above that can be a cause for concern. A temperature of more than 104° F can be considered very high.

That doesn’t just mean that any temperature above 102.5° F is a fever, though. Dr. Coates explains why: “A veterinarian might determine that a temperature of 102.7° F correlates to a mild fever if a dog has been resting in a cool room for an extended period of time,” she told Reader’s Digest. “On the other hand, a dog with a temperature of 102.7° F that has been exercising in the hot sun is probably completely normal.”

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10 silent signs your dog is depressed
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10 silent signs your dog is depressed

Ignoring playtime

A depressed dog won’t have the same energy levels that it used to, and its usual playtime and exercise won’t excite your pet as much. “It could be that their favorite thing in the world was to throw a tennis ball, and all of a sudden they don’t want to do that,” says Virginia-based veterinarian Katy Nelson, DVM. Don't miss these other facts you didn't know about your pup.

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Losing interest in favorite activities

Not every dog loves throwing a Frisbee or going for walks, so lack of exercise might not be the only telltale sign. The key is to notice if your dog has an unexplained behavior change or stops enjoying other activities it used to love, says Kelly Ryan, DVM, director of veterinary services at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Medical Center of Mid-America. “Maybe every day your dog waits by the door for your kid to come home from school,” she says. If your pet is still moping in its bed after the bus drops your kid off, it might be depressed. Learn why your dog usually follows you everywhere (even the bathroom).

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Leaving food in the bowl

Just like how you might lose your appetite when you’re feeling down, your dog might not feel like eating either. If your dog doesn’t show its usual eagerness for its favorite food or even loses weight, it might be experiencing depression, says Russell Hartstein, celebrity dog trainer with Fun Paw Care Los Angeles.

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Sleeping more than usual

Every animal is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all number of hours of sleep that would signal dog depression. Just pay attention if your dog is spending more time in bed than usual. “If your 15-year-old dog normally sleeps 14 hours a day and now it’s 20, that would be a big difference,” says Dr. Ryan. Find out why sleeping with your dog could be good for you.

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Experiencing a death in the family

You’re not the only one mourning the loss of a family member or another pet—your dog needs to grieve, too, and might go through a blue period. “You can’t really speed up that grieving process,” says Hartstein, “but you can comfort them and be sensitive to their needs.” Give your pooch some TLC with extra cuddles and treats while it gets used to the loss.

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Spending too much time inside

Dogs need space to run around and might become sad if they haven’t been given the chance. “If you were locked indoors all the time and not exposed to the outdoors except the immediate yard and around the block, you would not be fulfilled and would be depressed,” says Hartstein. Same goes for dogs, so take time to bring your dog on long walks or to the park. Once it starts getting the freedom it craves, your pet might slowly get its energy back. 

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Showing sudden aggression

A dog with depression might start tearing up the couch or growling when you touch it. “It’s not always the sad, forlorn basset hound-looking face you think of as the face of depression,” says Dr. Nelson. Depression shouldn’t be your first thought if your dog has always been aggressive, but a cuddly pooch that suddenly snaps might be telling you something’s wrong.

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Being alone in the house

Your dog probably gets lonely when you’re gone, so if your job constantly keeps you out of the house for long periods of time, your pet might stop jumping up to see you the minute you come home. “Dogs are social beings, and they’re not content with just being alone for many hours like that,” says Hartstein. Hire a dog walker or ask the usual walker to add another walk to your pet’s schedule, suggests Dr. Nelson. 

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Moving houses

Don’t be surprised if your dog has been acting strange ever since you moved homes. Change can be tough for animals, and your dog might feel depressed while it gets used to its new environment, says Hartstein. With a little time and attention, though, your pet should snap out of it and warm up to its new surroundings.

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Licking constantly

Animals don’t just lick themselves to get clean; sometimes they use the action to make themselves feel better. While it’s not a common symptom of dog depression, it isn’t unheard of, says Dr. Ryan. “If dogs have anxiety issues, they could be doing more compulsive-looking behaviors that can be self-soothing,” she says. “They pick a spot and keep licking it.”

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How to tell if a dog has a fever

Further complicating things, since dogs have fur, just a touch won’t allow you to sense if they have a fever. Your dog also probably won’t show any overt dog fever symptoms, according to Dr. Coates. “Most dogs with a fever will be somewhat lethargic, but of course many other health problems can lead to lethargy as well,” she says. For instance, lethargy can be one of the signs your dog is depressed. Therefore, you’ll want to actually check your dog’s temperature to definitively determine if he or she has a fever.

For that, you’ll need a thermometer. Dr, Coates recommends a digital rectal thermometer like this one. It shouldn’t be difficult to use “as long as your dog is cooperative and you are gentle and apply ample lubricant (petroleum jelly is fine) to the thermometer,” she says. A little icky, sure, but it’s the most accurate method for how to tell if a dog has a fever. There are ear thermometers available as well, but they’re not as precise, Dr. Coates advises.

What to do if your dog has a fever

If your dog’s temperature comes back above that safe “upper end of the normal range” temperature of 102.5° F, what should you do? Unfortunately, there’s not much you yourself can do. “If you suspect that your dog has a fever, call your veterinarian for advice,” Dr. Coates suggests. Your vet will give you tips regarding if it actually is a fever and what steps you should take to return your pup to a normal temperature. And if the fever is very high, think above 104° F, you’ll want to actually bring your dog to the vet or an animal hospital, as a fever that high can be dangerous. Of course, dogs can show plenty of dog illness symptoms that have nothing to do with fever, too. Find out even more silent signs your “healthy” dog is actually sick.

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The post How to Tell If Your Dog Has a Fever appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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Best dog breeds for kids
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Best dog breeds for kids

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

"The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a wonderful family pet; a gentle, calm dog, who is happy to be combed and brushed," says Dr. Emmett. "This breed is, however, less enthusiastic about games, such as tug of war, and rough-and-tumble play. King Charles Spaniels are a good match for a more urban lifestyle and a sensitive child." What does that wagging tail mean?

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Golden Retriever

"The Golden Retriever is one of the most well-known dogs because of their gentle, caring temperaments. They are able to lounge around the house for an afternoon or take a hike through the woods," says Pete Lands, DVM, Director of Emergency and Critical Care at Saint Francis Veterinary Center. Goldens are very bright and easy to train. They're also stoic when it comes to kids. "While they may not like it, Golden Retrievers tend to be apathetic to young kids pulling on their ears or tugging at their tails. This makes them one of the best family dogs you can find," he adds.

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Labrador Retriever 

They look large-and-in-charge, but Labs are famously child-friendly. "The Labrador Retriever is a reliable family pet," says Dr. Emmett. "This breed has an insatiable appetite for games and play and is well suited for an active outdoor lifestyle and a child who likes to run, throw balls, and play Frisbee." These are the most popular breed dogs in every state.

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Beagle

Cute as a button, sweet, and gentle, these pack animals thrive on companionship. According to the American Kennel Club, these charmers make excellent family dogs because they are loving by nature, love to play, and have goofy personalities. If you want a dog who wants to be with people, this is a great breed for your family. Pass Beagles up, however, if your house is always empty during the day.

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Irish Setter

Does your family love a good group jog or a game of beach Frisbee? If so, an Irish Setter will be the perfect fit for you. Regal to look at and energetic beyond words, this breed grows to be large, around 50 to 70 pounds and has a long lifespan, so they can grow up with your kids. Irish Setters make great companions, are wonderful with children, and have lively dispositions. They also love to play with toys and balls. Don't miss these secrets dog trainers won't tell you.

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French Bulldog

Frenchies, as they are affectionately known, are diminutive in size, but big in personality. Known for their affectionate natures and silly "bat" ears, French Bulldogs were bred to be companion dogs. The perfect family dog for apartment dwellers, Frenchies do well in small spaces, and love being around kids. French bulldogs also love getting dressed up for Halloween.

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Boxer

Make a Boxer part of your family, and you will never feel unprotected again. Fiercely loyal and protective of those who love them, these energetic, medium-sized dogs have calm dispositions, but love to play. They need lots of exercise, but beware of driving them too hard in hot weather. Like all squish-faced (Brachycephalic) dogs, they tend to overheat. Keep your pooch safe all summer long with these 28 warm-weather health tips for dogs.

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Cocker Spaniel

There's a definite possibility that Cocker Spaniels think they are people. They're gentle, loving, very smart, love being around children, and tend to always put themselves in the middle of the action. They also make great therapy dogs and may be a good fit for an anxious or special needs child. Their beautiful, floppy ears make them prone to ear infections, so keeping them clean and groomed is essential.

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Bichon Frise

These little bundles of low-shedding fur are some of the friendliest dogs on the planet. Sweet, affectionate, and playful, the Bichon Frise is a fantastic playmate for energetic children. Their small size makes them a great city dog, provided you give them lots of walks. According to Animal Planet, they're loyal to a fault and do best with consistent training and moderate amounts of activity. These are the dog breeds most compatible with your (or your child's) Zodiac sign.

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Collie

Rough Collies are known for their majestic, flowing coats, while smooth Collies have shorter coats. Rough or smooth, Collies make great family pets. (However, rough collies require more grooming.) This breed is incredibly intelligent and likes nothing better than to engage in activity with the children who love them. They're fast learners, loyal to their families, and protective. Just ask Lassie.

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Poodle

Have an allergic child? According to Health, Poodles might just be the ticket for you. While no dog is completely hypoallergenic, Poodles seem to come close, because they appear to produce fewer allergens. They also come in three sizes—standard, miniature, and toy—and an abundance of colors. These adorable goofballs are super-smart, easy to train, adapt well to new situations, and love kids. Here's your official guide to picking the best dog breed for you.

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Labradoodle

An intentional mix of Poodles and Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles are as adorable as their name. A medium-shedder, Labradoodles were originally bred to be even-keeled and empathetic, so they could be trained as guide dogs for visually-impaired people. This breed couldn't be more affectionate, or more adorable. Note that they need lots of exercise and tend to get along great with other dogs.

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Pug

This Instagram-darling brings with it major cuddle-factor. Their cutie-patooty smiling faces and cozying-up tendencies make Pugs a popular favorite for children who prefer gentle play to roughhousing. These playful pups were bred to be lap dogsand adore being around people. They're clever, quiet, and make great family pets.

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Chihuahua

Long-haired or short, Chihuahuas are the tiniest of all dog breeds. They tend to adore children and are very loyal to their families. Chihuahuas love the indoors and are not fond of very cold weather, perhaps because they're thought to have originated in Mexico. They're easy to train and love the lap of the person who loves them best. Watch out for these secret signs that your dog is mad at you.

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Chug

Chugs are a specific breed comprised of Pug and Chihuahua ancestry. Many have the best characteristics of both popular breeds, making them great pets for children. According to Pet Guide, Chugs are a designer dog with characteristics that vary from liter to liter. Like their forebears, most will make good family dogs. They're loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and love to play.

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Havanese

This tiny charmer is the national dog of Cuba. They have exuberant personalities and adore people of all ages. Havanese dogs are very social and outgoing. A loving breed, they also enjoy playing games. They're a toy breed, so not a great fit for rough-and-tumble play, but they're perfect for families who are looking for a silly, outgoing friend for their child. Read on for the 50 secrets your pup won't tell you.

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Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers and Miniature Bull Terriers make fantastic pets for older kids. They are sweet beyond belief, very protective, and very trainable. The American Kennel Club calls them mischievous, playful, and charming. Known for their silly, comical antics, and crowd-pleasing behavior, Bull Terriers need lots of exercise and lots of love.

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