How to Tell If Your Puppy Has a Fever

A black puppy laying in the grass

In general, puppies run a few degrees hotter than humans do. While you and your family members are running at a cool 37.5 °C, normal puppy temperature ranges between 37.5°C and 39.2°C. Much like humans, puppies can get sick too, but they aren’t as capable of telling us exactly what is wrong.

Signs of a sick puppy

One of the quickest ways to tell if a person has a fever is to see if their forehead is warm to the touch. While your puppy may feel extremely warm to the touch that doesn’t mean that something is wrong. So how can you tell if your puppy has a fever or illness?

It is up to you to learn how to tell if a puppy has a fever and interpret symptoms of illness along with knowing what action to take. This can help you decide the best course of action to take if your puppy ever does start to feel under the weather. You’ll need to look out for a range of subtle signs of a sick puppy.

In cases where you do notice something out of the ordinary, do not rely on books or websites for a diagnosis. Here is a list of the most common signs of fever or illness. If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet immediately:

  • Lethargy/lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Red eyes
  • Warm ears
  • Warm, dry nose
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Nasal discharge

Taking your puppy’s temperature

If you are worried about whether or not your puppy has a fever, you can check if he has a normal puppy temperature using a special ear or rectal thermometer that is made for dogs.

If you find that your puppy’s temperature is above 39.4°C (which is considered a fever) or below 37.2°C, contact your veterinarian immediately. There are a number of possible causes for your puppy’s fever including:

  • Infection (bacterial, viral, fungal). There are a variety of infections your puppy could have contracted. Consult your veterinarian if you think an infection might be to blame.
  • Recent vaccination. It’s normal for a puppy to develop a low-grade fever within the 24-48 hours following a vaccination.
  • Toxins. Your puppy may have ingested something he is not supposed to, such as human medication, household cleaning products or other toxins. To learn more, read our article on what not to feed dogs.

Preventing puppy illness

You may be doing everything to take the best care of your puppy, but even the best-cared-for puppies can become ill or injured. The best way to prevent illness is to be proactive about it. Scheduling annual vet appointments can help to detect disease in its early stages when it is more likely to respond to treatment, and it can help avoid significant medical expenses and risk to your dog’s health. Regular vet appointments can also help establish a baseline. This baseline can help you, and your veterinarian, easily see when something is wrong with your pet.

Related articles

Puppy laying on a blanket
Diarrhea is never a pleasant condition, but when your puppy is dealing with it, it's not a fun situation for anyone. If you're working on training your pup to go outside, diarrhea can also be a challenge to your house-training, as your furry friend may not be able to physically make it outdoors before he goes. Find out more about puppy diarrhea below, including what might cause it and when it's a serious situation to speak to your vet about.
French Bulldog puppy with toy
A Golden Retriever puppy sleeping