5 Causes of Fever in Dogs

When your canine friend is battling a fever, it could be attributed to many things, but this article will dive into the 5 main causes of fever in dogs.

May 13, 2023By Olivia Stultz
causes of fever in dogs

Just like humans, dogs can, unfortunately, get fevers. Fevers are a natural response of the immune system and nature’s way of fighting off an infection. When a dog’s body senses an influx of pathogens, it makes lots of white blood cells. The white blood cells will work as quickly as possible to fight these foreign invaders. Since there are so many of these kinds of blood cells, it affects the dog’s hypothalamus region of the brain. This causes their body to heat up, leading to a fever.

Any infection can cause a fever in dogs, but here are the top five common culprits:

5. Urinary Tract Infection

dog peeing on tree

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are commonly attributed to bacteria entering the urethral opening. The presence of bacteria in this region becomes a problem when coupled with feces or urine entering the area. It can also be attributed to the dog having a compromised immune system due to poor nutrition. Due to the intrusion of such bacteria, the dog’s body will become feverish to battle the infection.

Other symptoms of UTIs to look out for include bloody urine, frequent urination, and licking around the urinary opening. If you suspect your dog has a fever due to a UTI, it is best to take them to the vet for further treatment.

4. Vaccinations

french bulldog vacine at vet

Most canine owners know that the puncture of a vaccine can cause their dog to become sore around the injection site. However, due to the interaction between the injection and the dog’s immune system, a dog can also experience a fever after receiving vaccines.

Luckily, they are uncommon and typically light. These fevers typically show up a few hours after receiving the injection. Since these are expected, you probably do not need to call the vet immediately. However, you should if the fever grows to become mild, lasts over a day or two, or causes your dog major discomfort.

Compared to a human’s average body temperature between 97.6 – 99.6 F degrees, a dog’s normal range is between 99.5 and 102.5 F degrees. Anything over 130 F is the result of a fever. Common symptoms include red eyes, warm ears, lethargy/lack of energy, a warm and dry nose, loss of appetite, shivering, vomiting, and coughing.

3. Ingestion of Poisonous Materials

Toxic foods for dogs

Dogs tend to get into things they shouldn’t. But it can become a serious problem when the materials are poisonous. When these are ingested, they can cause a fever. More obvious toxins include common household items such as beauty products, cleaning products, and pest poison. Some human foods can also make your furry friend sick. Chocolate, macadamia nuts, produce in the onion family, xylitol, alcohol, and grapes are not digested properly by dogs, therefore, become a health hazard when eaten.

Other symptoms of ingestion of poisonous materials are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. If you suspect your dog has come down with a fever from eating something it shouldn’t, you should call the vet or the Pet Poison Helpline right away. They will be able to walk you through the next steps based on how much was eaten and how long ago it took place.

2. Infected or Abscessed Tooth

Dog teeth inspection

Tooth abscesses occur when harmful bacteria get into the root of a tooth. The infection will stay in this pocket and get worse over time. The body will bring on a fever to fight off this cluster of bacteria.

The thought of tooth disease is unpleasant to think of enough. Luckily, it can be preventable. Two of the most common causes of dental infection in dogs are periodontal disease and broken teeth. Brushing and chewing of raw meaty bones are excellent ways to prevent plaque buildup. Regular mental and physical exercise can prevent a dog from chewing on something they are not supposed to, something that would otherwise cause a tooth to break.

1. Infected Bite, Scratch, or Cut

wraping dog paw with medical tape

Dogs have a way of banging themselves up from time to time. Whether it’s playing too rough with another dog, or accidentally scrapping themselves on a thorny plant, open wounds are bound to occur.

Foreign pathogens that enter the dog’s body via cut, scratch, or bite can lead to a fever. If swiftly and adequately treated, a fever could be prevented. One of the first things you or your vet should do when treating one of these open wounds is to reduce the severity of a developing infection. Cleaning the wound, removing dead skin, and properly bandaging help promote healing.

Olivia Stultz
By Olivia Stultz

Olivia is an animal lover with over 6 years of experience working with therapy dogs and horses. She has one Boston Terrier named Theo, who is a certified therapy dog. In her free time, Olivia loves to walk the trails with Theo or cook up a new healthy recipe for her loved ones.