In dogs, a fever can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, inflammation, tumor growth or an over reaction of the immune system, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual online. Your Shih Tzu dog’s small size means that she is especially vulnerable when she has a fever, so confirm an appropriate course of treatment with your veterinarian before you decide whether to treat her exclusively at home.
A Watchful Eye
Before you treat your dog for fever, determine that he actually has one. Small Dogs Paradise’s online article on “How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature” recommends using a nonbreakable digital thermometer. Lubricate the thermometer with water-based jelly or olive oil. If you need to, get someone to help you restrain the dog. Insert the thermometer an inch into the dog’s rectum, being careful to angle it so the end touches the wall of the rectum. A normal temperature for a dog is 100-102 degrees Farenheit; 103-104 degrees indicates a moderate fever. You should see your vet soon. A temperature over 104 degrees is dangerous and requires a vet’s immediate attention.
Your dog’s fever can cause him to become dehydrated, says Martin Zucker, author of “The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs.” Like all small dogs, your Shih Tzu’s higher metabolism means she needs more water per pound of body weight than a larger dog. Encourage her to drink more water while she’s feverish, but don’t force it. A splash of cranberry juice in the water or an ice cube to crunch on might motivate her to consume more and cool her off. If cold water doesn’t appeal to her, give her warmer water. Zucker notes that water that is too warm or too cold can cause the dog to refuse it.
A traditional cure for the common cold in humans, chicken soup can also make your Shih Tzu feel better when he has a fever. The experts at Natural Dog Health Remedies says that chicken soup boosts immunity while keeping your dog hydrated. To make a simple chicken soup, cover a small whole chicken with water and simmer for three or four hours. Remove all bones and return it to the heat, adding carrots, spinach or your dog’s favorite vegetables.
Cool Sponge Bath
Just like you would a child, you can bring down your dog’s fever by cooling it with water. Dampen a washcloth with cold water and apply it to his ears and feet. WebMD’s article “High Fever in Dogs” also recommends using a fan on your damp dog to further bring down his temperature.
According to Fetchdog’s online article about echinacea, in one clinical trial, 39 of 42 dogs with chronic upper respiratory infections recovered within four weeks when given echinacea. The dose is one gram of echinacea powder per 22 pounds of body weight daily. For an average 12-pound Shih Tzu, half a gram would be an appropriate dose. The Dachsund Magazine On-Line notes that echinacea is not appropriate if your dog’s fever is caused by an autoimmune disorder.