Fever In Shih Tzu Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment
In dogs, a fever can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, inflammation, tumor growth, or an overreaction of the immune system. Your Shih Tzu dog's small size means that they are especially vulnerable when they have a fever, so it is important to get your dog to the veterinarian. They will be able to determine the cause of the fever and make recommendations for the best possible treatment options.
We spoke with Dr. Ingrid Taylor, a veterinarian with 16 years of experience in general clinical and emergency practice and public health to find out more. "Any change in your dog's energy level, appetite, and water consumption can potentially indicate an illness," says Dr. Taylor. "Do not try any remedies without first consulting your veterinarian, because herbal supplements have the potential to interact with medications given to treat your dog's condition."
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Symptoms of fever in dogs
The first step in treating your dog's fever is to recognize that they have one. It can be difficult to recognize your dog's body temperature is abnormal because the most common symptoms are also health issues that are associated with many other illnesses. If you notice any combination of these signs, you should check your dog's temperature to determine whether it is in the normal range or not.
The common signs of fever in dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nasal discharge
- Warm ears or nose
- Excessive panting
- Lack of energy
- Red or glassy eyes
How to check your dog’s temperature
If you notice any combination of these symptoms, there is a chance that your Shih Tzu has a fever. The best thing that you can do is to take your dog's temperature so that you can confirm that is the problem or rule it out. "To do this, you should use a digital thermometer that is either a rectal thermometer or ear thermometer, not a glass thermometer," says Dr. Taylor. If you are using a digital thermometer, lubricate it with water-based jelly, petroleum jelly, or baby oil.
You may wish to have someone help you restrain the dog to keep both you and your dog safe. This person can also comfort your dog to help keep their stress level down. Insert the thermometer approximately an inch into the dog's rectum and hold the thermometer steady until it alerts you that the reading is ready.
"A normal body temperature for a dog is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit," says Dr. Taylor. "A temperature above 103 degrees indicates a fever. Call your veterinarian to discuss your concerns and make an appointment to have your dog seen right away. A temperature over 104 degrees is dangerous and requires a veterinarian's immediate attention. If your regular veterinarian is unavailable, bring your dog to the nearest emergency clinic.
Provide your dog with fresh, cool water
"Your Shih Tzu's small size may make them more vulnerable to rapid dehydration," says Dr. Taylor. "Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water and monitor their intake carefully." If they don't seem interested in cool water, try warmer water. Avoid water that is too warm or too cold, as this may cause your dog to refuse it. Offer your dog small, frequent amounts of water to avoid upsetting their stomach and monitor how much they are drinking. "If your Shih Tzu is dehydrated and/or not drinking, they need to be seen by the veterinarian. They may need IV fluids to recover."
Fight dog illness with chicken soup
Foods that are high in liquid may also help your dog recover by keeping them hydrated. "Offering foods high in liquid, like adding water to boiled chicken and rice, offering canned food, or adding water to their dry kibble diet can encourage water intake and may help motivate a dog to eat who's not feeling well."
Chicken soup is a traditional cure for the common cold in humans. To help your dog recover, you can make a dog-friendly chicken soup. Cover a small, whole chicken with water and allow it to simmer for three or four hours. Remove all bones, skin, and fat before returning it to the heat. Add your dog's favorite vegetables to the soup, such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, or celery. When the vegetables are cooked, take the soup off the stove and allow it to cool to a safe temperature before offering it to your dog.
Of course, home remedies should not replace a veterinary appointment. Several possible causes of fever in dogs, like parvovirus and distemper, can be life-threatening if not addressed.
First aid for a fever in dogs
Just like you would a child, you can bring down your dog's fever by cooling them with water. This is the recommended first aid for a fever but should not be used as a substitute for veterinary care. Dampen a washcloth with cool water (not cold water) and apply it to their ears and feet. You can also use a fan on your damp dog to further bring down their temperature.
"Never give your dog human medications, like aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, to try to reduce your dog's fever," says Dr. Taylor. "These medications are not safe for dogs and could poison them, causing serious health problems."
Whether your dog has a mild fever or a seriously high temperature, they need to see a veterinarian to be properly treated. Encourage your dog to drink small, frequent amounts of water to avoid dehydration while you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. If your dog has a high fever over 104 degrees or is showing signs of dehydration, they need to see a veterinarian immediately. If it's after hours, this warrants a trip to your local emergency clinic.