Pet Wellness Guides > How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever (Without a Thermometer) - Pet Insurance Review

How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever (Without a Thermometer)

Posted: 04/11/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care

If you share your home and life with a pup, you know that from time to time, they can sometimes come down with the equivalent of a doggy cold or flu. Like us, our canine babies can feel sick for two to three days as their immune systems fight the infection. One of the best ways to tell if your dog is fighting some kind of viral or bacterial infection is to take their temperature. But if you don’t know exactly what you are doing, you should not attempt to take your pup’s temperature rectally as you could rupture something. Many pup parents are left wondering how to tell if a dog has a fever without a thermometer.

There are actually a few different ways you can gauge this so let’s get started!

How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer


When you were a kid, your mom probably placed her hand, or even her cheek, to your forehead to get a sense of whether or not you “felt warm”. You can also use simple touch on your dog. There are four areas on her body that will feel warmer than usual when she has a temperature. Check her ears, paws, armpits and groin area. Do these areas feel warmer than usual?

Get into the habit of touching your dog’s ears, paws and pits regularly so you’ll know when something feels hotter than usual.

The Nose Knows

Most healthy dogs have cool, wet noses. There can be exceptions to this for those older dogs or dogs with allergies. But for the most part, your dog should have a nice cool and wet nose when she is feeling good. If your dog is acting… “off” and her nose is warm and dry, there is a very good chance she has a fever. 

Check Her Gums

Just as her nose may feel warm and dry, her gums may as well. Check to see if they are pale and sticky, not the normal slobbering mouth she usually has. 

How is Her Energy?

What is your dog’s energy normally like? Does she seem a bit lethargic? Is she not her usual playful self? If so, that’s typically an indicator that something is going on.

How to Tell if a Dog Has a Fever Without a Thermometer

Shivering or Trembling

Just like we can shiver when we don’t feel well, our dogs will do the same. Is your dog shivering or trembling? They will also go back and forth between being overheated to feeling cold, leading them to begin trembling. They may tremble persistently or do so on and off.

Does She Have Colored Mucus?

Dogs that are fighting some sort of viral or bacterial infection may have a discharge of colored mucus from their nose or even eyes. Your dog may even sneeze from time to time.

No Appetite

And finally, if your dog is like most, she is always happy to eat her meals and be given treats. So if she suddenly has no interest in eating, it is definitely an indicator that she isn’t feeling well and most likely has a temperature. 

Can you take a dog’s temperature with a no-contact thermometer?

It’s a nice thought, but because of your dog’s thick hair, these thermometers won’t be able to get an accurate reading. You’re better off trying one or more of the methods listed above.

What is a dog’s normal temperature?

If you or a loved one have experience taking rectal temperatures on pets, then you may want to get an accurate reading. A dog’s normal temperature will range between 101-102.5 degrees F (38-39.1 degrees C). A dog with a fever will usually have a temperature above 103. If your dog’s fever gets above 106, it can be fatal and you will need to take her to the vet ASAP.

Even if your dog only has a slight fever, it does indicate that she is dealing with a health issue. While it may resolve on its own, it’s always a good idea to bring your pup into the vet to get her checked out. Just like we can develop pneumonia from a common cold, our pups can, too. Better to be safe than sorry.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve wondered how to tell if a dog has a fever without a thermometer, now you know. There are actually quite a few good ways to tell that don’t require you to stick something up your dog’s bottom. Basically, touch them on the ears, paws, armpits and groin area to see if they feel warm. Check their nose and gums to see if they are warm and dry. Other indicators to notice are lethargy, a lack of appetite, colored mucus and trembling or shivering.

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, it’s important to get her into the vet and get her checked out.

how to comfort a dog with pancreatitis

Enroll Your Pup in a Health Insurance Plan for Optimal Health

We want to take the very best care of our fur babies. That requires ensuring they get the medical treatments they need when they need  them. And for most people (who are not lottery winners) that requires a pet health insurance plan that will reimburse up to 90% of the vet bills.

If you’ve thought about getting health insurance for your pup but haven’t yet, don’t get caught off guard. A good plan will give you peace of mind.

Find & Compare the Top Pet Insurance Companies

Get Quotes for Your Dog


  1. Fever in Dogs: Causes, Signs, and Treatment
  2. How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Fever and What to Do About It



The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

Get a quote today

Leave a review