So, you notice that your dog’s head is hot! What does this mean? Is your dog OK? What can you do? For starters, don’t panic. There are a number of reasons your dog could have a hot-head.

Some of the reasons that may cause a rise in temperature include: A Fever, Stress, his natural cooling process, or a rise in the temperature of his surroundings. 

It’s very important to keep in mind, though, that just because a dog can feel hot this doesn’t mean that he is sick. A dogs’ temperatures will be higher than ours, therefore it isn’t uncommon for your dog to feel warm to the touch. 

This is why it is important to determine whether your dog actually has a fever or not.


a sick dog

What is a Dog’s Normal Temperature?

For a human, normal body temperature is approximately 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). For a dog, this is approximately 39 degrees Celsius (100-102 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many people and some dogs have a baseline temperature a small bit above or below that average, however, if your dog’s temperature increases above 104 degrees Fahrenheit or falls below 99 degrees Fahrenheit, then you need to take him to a vet.


How to Tell if your Dog has a Fever

Given that dogs have fur, simply touching them on the head won’t let you know if they have a fever or not. Also, your dog will hardly ever show any clear signs of having a fever. This is according to Dr. Coates. She explains that “Most dogs who have a fever will be somewhat sluggish, however many other health issues can cause this issue as well,”.

For example, lethargy may be one of the signs your dog is depressed. Thus, you will need to physically check your dog’s temperature to determine if he has a fever.


How to take a Dog’s Temperature

Dog temperature check

So now that you understand you cannot rely on the hotness of your dog’s head to tell if he has a fever the next step is to take his temperature. Before you get started there a few bits of equipment you will need. To start off, equip yourself with these tools.

  • A Mercury or Digital thermometer
  • Petroleum jelly 
  • A helper (a friend will do) 
  • Some of your dog’s favorite treats or toys 

You need to pick an area of your home which is quiet and has no distractions. Should you have a small dog putting him on a table might help. Get your helper to hold the dog still, and very carefully lubricate the thermometer with the petroleum jelly. Depending on which thermometer you decide to use, the method for getting the temperature reading may differ slightly. The 2 different thermometer methods are outlined below.


The Mercury Thermometer 

If you use a traditional mercury thermometer make sure to flick it so the mercury goes down below 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Lift the dog’s tail and carefully insert the thermometer approximately 1 to 3 inches. Keep in place for around 3 minutes. Make sure you reward and treat your dog during this process.


The Digital Thermometer 

If you use a digital thermometer, then you should insert it in the same way as you did with the mercury thermometer and then wait until it beeps. Make sure you treat your dog during and after this process.

This process will become easier with practice. Most dog owners really don’t like taking their dog’s temperature rectally, however, there is some good news. Recently, ear thermometers have been developed specifically for pets.

Although these thermometers can be expensive they may be worth it especially if you have a dog who is not particularly cooperative. Having said that, they are not the simplest to use.

Needless to say, reading a dog’s temperature pointless if you don’t know what you are looking for. As mentioned earlier a normal reading for a dog is approximately 39 degrees Celsius (100 -102 degrees Fahrenheit).


Does a Dry Nose Mean your dog has a Fever?

Understanding how to correctly take your dog’s temperature will save you a lot of worry and money at the veterinarian. However, the very first thing you need to know is that old wives’ tale we have all head about…. can you tell if your dog has a fever by simply touching his nose. Unfortunately, this isn’t true…

Although an average dog’s nose is cold and wet to the touch, a dry nose doesn’t necessarily mean that he is sick. The truth is, a dog’s nose may become dry for many different types of reasons. The chilly wintertime can dry out your dog’s nose, just like sleeping. Pups with shorter snouts have got naturally drier noses, while older dogs tend to have dryer noses.

In addition, even though your pet’s nose is cool and wet this doesn’t mean that he is healthy. Dogs who are sick tend to lick their noses which can keep them cool and wet. And also he may have just stuck his nose in some water.

Despite the fact that you’ve most likely listened to this for years, you want to assure you… a moist nose isn’t always a sign of a healthy dog, and a dry nose does not necessarily mean that your dog is sick either.


Reasons your Dog’s Head might get Hot

There are a variety of conditions and illnesses that can cause your dog’s head to get hot. These are outlined below:

An Infection

This might have a number of different causes. These include fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases. The infection could be anywhere in the dog’s body, for example, the lungs, the kidneys, the brain, or even in the skin.

The signs you see will depend on the location where the infection is concentrated and the underlying cause. A number of infections, for example, fungal diseases, could affect several parts of the body at the same time.


A low-temperature reading for fever 24 to 48 hrs after vaccination is common. This is caused by the interaction effects of the vaccination on your dog’s immune system.


Ingesting products that are poisonous to dogs, such as macadamia nuts plus some human antidepressants, may cause a dog to throw up and can lead to an increase in body temperature.

Fever of Unknown Origin

Occasionally the reason for dog fever can’t be easily identified; this is known as “fever of unknown origin,”. One of the most likely reasons for this is cancer, undiagnosed infections, bone marrow problems, or disorders in the immune system.

The Weather

If your dog has been out in the sun for a long period of time, then this might be a possible explanation as to why he may feel hot to touch.

The same holds true if he’s been sitting in front of the fireplace, a heater, or even the oven. Overheating under such conditions are some of the most common reasons for a hot-head.


Just like people may become stressed, the same is true for dogs. If your pet gets stressed, it may cause him to develop a fever. Perhaps there is something going on in your house that might be stressing out your dog?

Is there a storm coming in that might be upsetting him? Have you recently got a new dog or pet that could be stressing him out? Each one of these things could cause a fever.


What To Do If Your Dog Has A Fever

Just like humans, your dog’s temperature will increase to fight off inflammation or infection. A virus, infected cut, bladder infection, and pneumonia are a few of the numerous conditions that can cause a fever. Thus how can you know when you ought to be really concerned?


When to Bring your Dog to the Vet

Generally, every fever should warrant a trip to the vet.  It’s best if you let them know what’s happening and get their guidance.

Any temperatures under 103 Degrees Fahrenheit can be monitored for up to 24 hours at home. However, a fever higher than this, or one that persists more than a day, requires a visit to the vet.

A temperature of 105 Degrees Fahrenheit or above can harm a dog’s internal organs and could be fatal. This can be a very serious condition that should be monitored carefully.

With regard to fevers severe enough to need a vet visit, expect your dog to be given anti-inflammatory medication, and receive IV fluids. Your veterinarian is also very likely to suggest blood work to try and figure out the cause of your dog’s fever.

Sadly, since several things could cause fever, it’s usually tough to nail down the reason.


What can you do to Reduce your Dog’s Fever?

To reduce your dog’s fever (103 degrees Fahrenheit or above) put water around his ears and paws. Use a soaked cloth or towel. Always monitor his temperature, and once it drops below 103 Fahrenheit, you may stop using the water.

Try to coax him into sipping a little bit of water. You’ll still need to keep an eye on your dog, to ensure his fever doesn’t return, and think about taking him to the veterinarian if he displays other symptoms. Don’t forget: It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Apart from offering him a small amount of water, speak to your vet before you take action to lower your dog’s fever. Giving the dog aspirin, for instance, might prevent the ability to use other medications that are more effective in reducing temperature.



Sometimes your dog’s warm head is because of fever or any of the mentioned factors. You need to take quick measures to find a solution to the problem.

Never think twice about visiting your vet, and always make sure that you never compromise your pet’s health for anything.

Don’t forget, the main thing is to not panic, diagnose the fever correctly, and bring your dog to the vet if he does indeed have a fever. Stick to these steps, and your fuzzy companion ought to be okay.

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