Calling our mammalian systems temperature-sensitive is an understatement. For doggie bodies, a few degrees can make all the difference. Should the mercury shift even a little in either direction, your dog could be in real danger.
Temperature fluctuations can be triggered for a variety of reasons, putting your pooch at risk for hypothermia or fever. Whether they have a temperature spike from a vaccine or a cold front sends it plummeting, knowing problematic temperature tells could save their life.
How can you tell if your dog’s body temperature is normal? This starter guide will help keep them in the clear.
Causes for Concern
No matter how attentive you are, some pets are more susceptible to temperature shifts. If your pup is very old or young, a smaller breed or battling illness, you’ll want to take extra care.
Some basics that can prevent your dog from regulating its body temperature include:
- Wet fur– which can exacerbate cold exposure
- Injury– which can disrupt your dog’s instincts to seek appropriate heat sources
- Prescription drugs– like anesthetics that can impact the brain (any medication that lowers or raises the heart rate can affect body temperature)
- Diseases and disorders– such as Hypothyroidism that lowers thyroid hormones with the ability to increase body temperature
- Infection- from bacteria or virus that are designed to keep body temps low for their survival
- Allergies– which can cause inflammation that interrupts heat distribution
- Vaccines– that will trigger the immune system to burn off intruders with a low-grade fever
- Rewarming hazards– a dangerous phenomenon that forces cold blood from the extremities into core organs
You may not be able to predict or even prevent a temperature swing, but you can keep an eye out for a possible issue.
Signs of Trouble
Trembling is obvious, panting is plain, but some issues are less obvious and more dangerous.
When your dog’s body temp is dropping you may notice cold ears, slow or stiff movements, changes in breathing, weak heartbeat or increased sleeping all the way up to fainting. The combination of these should alert and alarm you to the possibility of hypothermia. Even a mild case can quickly develop into a serious medical emergency.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re concerned your dog has a fever you’ll want to take action. If you notice a loss of appetite, increased heart rate, vomiting, or coughing and nasal discharge, you have a problem on your paws. Bear in mind that some fevers are symptomless so if you suspect a problem, trust your instinct.
Taking your Dog’s Temperature
Since symptoms can be nebulous, the best way to know if you’re dealing with a disrupted body temp is to take your pet’s temperature.
The most accurate temperature read will come from the rectum. A digital thermometer designed for dogs will make the process quick and painless for both you. (It’s also more accurate than a human thermometer.) Grease the end with a light lubricant like cooking or baby oil– petroleum jelly will also work. This will increase your dog’s comfort.
Hypothermia starts once your dog’s body temp drops below 99°F. However, once it hits 82°F, it could be hard to come back from.
You’ll also want to spring into action if the thermometer approaches 103ºF. If it reaches 106ºF, a visit to the emergency vet is non-negotiable.
Regulating Temps, Nutritionally
Be it high or low, you can help support your dog’s ability to keep its temperature in balance with proper nutrition. Dog kibble that is holistic and all-natural dog food will help provide the nutritional elements needed to regulate them from the inside out.
If your pet’s suffering from the chills, raise temps with digestive heat from a high fiber diet. The process of digesting nutrients creates digestive heat which can be beneficial in colder temperatures.
You can also ward off potential fevers by prioritizing their immune systems and decreasing unwanted inflammation. Healthy fatty acids like omega 3s offer protection against both. Healthy dog food will list a significant percentage of the brand’s nutritional facts.