Fever is defined as having a higher than normal body temperature. It is a healthy response to the threat of disease. But if it goes on too long, medical treatment should be sought out.
I’m not going to name each Rottweiler I’ve ever had with the fever they’ve had because tick bite fever is the predominant one in my older dogs and you’ll also start to feel overwhelmed. So I’m going to stick with the ones who were born in the last decade.
Saphira and Amber
The dreaded tick bite fever. Saphira had this precisely once in her life while other dogs I’ve had before her had it repeatedly (I credit it with different environments). Saphira immediately had her fever with the outward symptoms of seeming drunkenness. Amber (her twin) had an inward fever, but the other symptoms were the same so I knew they had tick bite fever without ever finding a tick on them. I took them to the vet who kept them for the day to administer antibiotics and to monitor them. They were fine.
I did a quick post about this, linking to what spiro is, a while back. This was something I didn’t even know existed, much less that Jazz had it. He got a fever, so high you could feel heat radiating from him an arm length away. I gave him aspirin as I was told to do and the fever broke. He seemed fine. And then he started coughing/clearing his throat a couple of weeks later. He lost a lot of weight and died for no apparent reason. Turns out it was this awful parasite that was new to the area. Even the vet hadn’t known about it. But now, any time a dog gets fever for no apparent reason, they go to the vet. If it’s obvious why they have fever (see Callum below), the fever gets treated along with the underlying reason.
I haven’t done a full post about it yet, but Emmett had bone cancer. As with most cancers, it was accompanied by fever. The vet prescribed special meds for him.
You’ll remember from previous posts that Tony was quite ill by the end of his life. The fever he got was from pain due to DCM. He got special meds from the vet for that.
In the winter, Callum is prone to get stiff muscles and joints because of the cold. At his age, he needs to be careful. Last winter, he pulled a muscle in his thigh. The pain was accompanied by a mild fever. I gave him aspirin (about 600g three times a day for the first two days, then 400g three times a day for the next two days, followed by 200g three times a day for another two days) and I applied Arnica gel to his sore muscles (an excellent product you can find alongside other muscle gels like Voltarin and Deep Heat in your pharmacy). It took about three weeks of applying Arnica gel to his muscles before the pain fully subsided. The fever broke completely after four days. (Note: the amount of aspirin depends on your dog’s weight. Call your vet for full instructions on the use of aspirin in such cases.)
You’ll remember how upset I was last year when Caitlin decided that mushrooms growing overnight in the garden were her new favourite food. It was quick: high fever (which I tried to break with a cold bath) accompanied by vomiting and then paralysis. If I hadn’t gotten her as quickly to the vet as I did, the mushroom poisoning would have been fatal.
And let’s not forget the kidney issue preceding it… Fever is a good indicator that something is seriously wrong and one should always act on it.
There are, of course, other reasons Rottweilers (and other dogs) get fever.
Let’s start with recognising fever symptoms.
First, you should know what your dog’s temperature normally feels like. Just as with people, normal temperature differs from dog to dog. For example: Caitlin is much younger than Callum and her normal temperature is slightly higher than his. High body temperature is one of the biggest symptom of fever.
Other things to look out for:
- Lethargy (always a warning sign for various issues – find the cause!).
- Red eyes (could be allergies causing the whites to appear more red or it could be something more malignant – go to the vet to be sure.)
- Glassy-looking eyes (you’ll know the look from when you have fever).
- Warm ears (you can easily feel a dog’s true temperature by touching their ears).
- Shivering (if it isn’t freezing, then your dog is shivering because they have fever).
- Warm, dry nose (the nose test isn’t always accurate, but you’ll know that something’s off with your dog’s health if it isn’t cool and wet).
- Nasal discharge (it could be from fever or allergies – or something awful like cancer. Talk to your vet if your dog has this.).
- Coughing (could be kennel cough, could be spiro, could be something else. Immediate action is required.)
- Vomiting (fever can cause vomiting, or it can be because of a virus, or something your pet ate that they shouldn’t – a non-food item or poison. Immediate action should be taken.).
- Loss of appetite (fever can make your dog lose their appetite, it can also be caused by pain in their mouths, or because their nauseous.).
You can always take your dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer, ear thermometer or underneath the armpit. A digital thermometer is recommended as others contain mercury in the glass tube that is toxic – and those thermometers can break causing even more distress. Taking your dog to the vet if you’re worried about fever is still the best thing to do.
There are special digital thermometers just for pets. It can take temperature in just 60 seconds, so it might be something you want in your pet’s first aid kit.
A good way to reduce a dog’s fever is to apply cool water around his paws and ears (use a soaked towel). Also get them to drink water. Keep monitoring your dog. If the fever returns, take them to the vet immediately. Better be safe than sorry.
Remember that high fevers can damage your dog’s internal organs and can be fatal.
Causes of Fever
- UTI (urinary tract infection)
- Ear infection
- Infected or abscessed tooth
- Infected wounds (a bite, scratch or cut)
- Infections of internal organs such as liver, lungs or kidneys
- An ongoing bacterial or viral disease
These are all treated with antibiotics by your vet.
Inflammation can cause your dog’s temperature to rise. There is no way for you to diagnose it yourself, so your vet will have to run tests to find the underlying cause. Autoimmune diseases are usually the culprit.
Tick Bite Fever
If you’ve removed a tick from your dog, be sure to watch for any symptoms of fever (see list above) as well as any odd behaviour in your dog. Go to the vet immediately if any symptoms appear.
Ingesting toxic/poisonous substances
Once your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, they’ll have a fever as the toxins spread through their system. Try to figure out what they ate, but it’s more important to get them to the vet as soon as possible (they’ll induce vomiting to get the substance out, give them fluids and activated charcoal, and whatever else needed once it is confirmed what your dog ingested).
- Toxic plants
- Human medications
- Human foods toxic to dogs
- Rat poison
Sometimes your dog will get a low-grade fever after being vaccinated. Keep an eye on them. It should resolve within a day or two, but if it doesn’t you should go back to the vet.
Other than cooling your pet down and getting them to drink a bit of water, wait until your vet has done their examination. Giving your dog aspirin might make it impossible to administer other types of meds that are more effective at lowering temperature.
If the fever is serious enough to go to the vet, expect a full examination, IV-fluids, anti-inflammatory meds and tests to figure out what is wrong (usually a blood panel).
Because there are so many things that can cause fever, it is often difficult to find the culprit. But if you know when the fever started, your dog’s routine, general health and environment, it is usually easier to find the cause. There are times that a fever comes from an unknown source, the vet will treat it and do further examinations (this is usually because of something like an autoimmune disease, something in the blood or bone marrow, or even cancer).
Only give meds under the supervision of your vet.
- How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Fever? Eight Signs Explained.
- Fever in Dogs: Causes, Signs, and Treatment
- High Fever in Dogs
- Symptoms, Causes and Treatment for a Pet with a Fever
- How to Tell If Your Dog Has A Fever
- Fever in Dogs
- Uncovering the Cause of Fever in Dogs
- Does Your Dog Have Fever? 5 Simple Causes & Treatment
- What Can I Give My Dog for Fever?
Have you ever had to deal with a feverish pet? What was the reason? What did you do?
**Legal waiver: I’m not a veterinarian, just an overprotective Rottweiler mum and pack leader. It’s always best to contact your vet if something in your dog’s behaviour is out of character.
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