A dog has a fever – how do you treat it?

Our question this week was:

A friend of mine has just phoned me up and her dog has a temperature of 104.7 and is whining when she is being picked up. She is approximately 5-years-old and is normally in good health.

She did ring her vets and they told her to give her synulox and Metacam to lower the temperature and that he doesn’t need to see her until her temperature reaches 105.0.

However having experienced this vet of several occasions I don’t have much faith in them. Do you have any ideas what could be causing this and do you think further action is necessary?

Many Thanks,

Kerrie McGreevy


Hi – thanks for your email Kerrie. You wrote that your friend’s dog is whining and has a fever of 104.7 degrees F. Her vet recommended metacam per phone and you want a second opinion.

Well, to be honest Kerrie – I think a temperature of 104.7 is high – especially if the dog is acting sick. I’m not there and I have not seen the dog but if you were to call me and ask my opinion, I’d recommend that the dog be evaluated. There are many causes for fever that I’d worry about that may not respond to an anti-inflammatory drug.

A good history and physical examination to help determine (or narrow down possible causes). Depending on the situation, bloodwork and radiographs (X-rays) may be recommended.

By history – I mean the vet should ask about what the dog has been doing. Has he gotten into the trash, does he eat things like sock, hose, rocks, etc, has he been eating well, has he lost weight, is he coughing, is he lame, does he have vomiting or diarrhea, is he straining to urinate, etc. This could help narrow down the “organ” system that could be the problem.

So, I’m all for second opinions. Of course it sounds like your friend called got advice over the phone and is trying it. I’m always cautious to judge these kinds of conversations, as many times they don’t go as you think they may have. For example, your friend could have called and told the veterinarian the situation and the vet said – “you should bring him in” and the client said – “what can I do at home – I’m not brining my dog in” and therefore the advice of “try metacam but if his temperature goes to 105 – he should really be seen as soon as possible” was dispensed. I have no idea but I’ve seen this happen many times it is hard to judge.

An article that might be helpful to you is Fever in Dogs. Also, this article might help – How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature.

Best of luck!

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