Pet Tips

Fever in cats and dogs

Fever in Dogs – Cats – Pet tip 212

When it comes to determining if your cat or dog is sick, one of the key things to check for is fever. Although it’s simple to determine if your pet has a fever, many cat and dog owners treat their pets like children and are potentially making a serious and incorrect diagnosis. Many pet owners simply touch their pet’s skin and make a determination based on that. Since it normally works with children (skin warmer to the touch normally indicates a fever) they apply the same technique to their pet cats and dogs. This is a mistake and this practice needs to be stopped immediately.

Although in many cases tests to uncover illnesses are identical when it comes to humans and pets, external skin temperature is NOT one of those cases. The relative skin temperature of your pet’s skin to your human hand will vary for many reasons. The warmth or coldness of their skin is usually unrelated to fever which is based on the ‘core’ body temperature of your pet. Some of the reasons why the skin temperature and core temperature may be very different include; your pet’s activity level just minutes before you touched it, the temperature of the environment, your pet’s particular circulatory system, and your pet’s endocrine system. Both cats and dogs regulate their body temperatures in different ways than humans do. The most notable difference is sweating; humans sweat though skin and cats and dogs sweat through panting and through their paw pads.

The only way to get an accurate indication if your pet is running a fever is by taking its core body temperature. This can be accomplished using a digital thermometer for pets that is placed in the pet’s ear. Normally the reading is done in just a few seconds with minimal discomfort to your pet. If you don’t have a digital thermometer, your pet’s core temperature can be taken rectally with a rectal thermometer. This task is best accomplished with 2 people the pet knows. One person can comfort/restrain the pet while the other can take the temperature. Apply petroleum jelly to the head of the thermometer. Insert the thermometer SLOWLY into the dog or cat’s rectum about one inch deep. Wait about 2 minutes for a mercury thermometer and remove the thermometer slowly. Wipe it clean and read the thermometer. Make sure you clean it well after using it.

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 100.5 Fahrenheit (38.1°C) and 102.5 Fahrenheit (39.2°C). A cat’s normal body temperature ranges between 100 Fahrenheit (37.7°C) and 102.5 Fahrenheit (39.2°C). The more your pet’s temperature varies from this norm, the greater the urgency to contact your veterinarian.

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