Dear Hot Under the Collar,
The normal body temperature range for a cat or dog is approximately 100-103°F. Temperatures above 103°F might be either a true fever or hyperthermia.
Hyperthermia occurs in situations such as:
- Strenuous activity
- Increased anxiety (such as a visit to a veterinarian’s office)
- An underlying medical condition
Hyperthermic animals sense that they are over-heated. They may pant, have bright pink gums, or become agitated or distressed. They may also exhibit cold-seeking behaviors.
During a true fever, the animal’s internal “thermostat” (set by the hypothalamus in the brain) has been reset to a higher temperature. This makes the animal feel cold. As a result, he or she may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Having goosebumps
- Seeking heat
- Undergoing behavioral changes such as lethargy, depression, or reduced appetite
Determining a Treatment
The signs and symptoms accompanying a fever may point to its source. For example, coughing or wheezing may indicate an upper respiratory infection. Identifying the underlying reasons for the fever will allow the veterinarian to decide on potential treatment options, which may involve:
- Fluids for dehydration
- Antibiotics (bacterial infections)/ antifungals (fungal infections)
- Immunomodulating drugs
- Cancer drugs
Remember, fevers are not always caused by bacterial infections – antibiotics will not be effective against fevers with non-bacterial causes. A veterinarian will determine the best course of action for your pet.
Yours Truly, PHP Pete