It is one of those normal days when you part your dog and realize his head feels a little warmer.
How come you have never noticed this before?
Now that you have, read on to discover why the dog’s head is warm and whether you should get concerned.
A dog’s head may feel hot if he is regulating body temperature. Also, your dog’s head is warm if he was sleeping next to the fireplace, heater, or out in the sun. Exercising, stress, toxins, or diseases may also explain why your dog’s head feels warm.
It feels good when your dog lies on your leg and his head feels so warm.
But there are days when his head feels hotter than usual and you wonder if your pup has a fever.
Well, let’s find out.
Do dogs get a fever?
Yes, dogs do get fevers like their human owners.
But a dog’s fever is not the same as that of a human.
While the normal human body temperature is 37℃ a dog’s normal temperature is between 38℃ and 39℃.
That’s why, over time, you feel your body burning when a dog or cat lies on your chest.
Their normal temperature is higher than yours. So how do you know your dog has a fever?
If your dog has a temperature above 39℃ or 102.5F, they may be suffering from a fever.
It is important to check for other symptoms of distress or sickness to affirm your suspicion.
What else can make a dog’s head feel hot?
When you notice your dog’s head rising in temperature, it could be that;
- He is cooling himself
- He is just from warming himself
- The dog was playing outside
- He feels stressed
- The dog is under medication
A way to cool himself
Dogs cool their bodies through the open pores on their skin.
But a dog does not have that much-exposed skin like a human.
This means they can only pass heat through the tiny parts of bare skin on their bodies.
Your dog sweats through his nose, paws, underbelly, and the inside of his ears.
These areas have exposed skin, with minimal hair, where heat can dissipate through.
If your dog’s head is warm, he is directing heat to his head and through his ears for cooling purposes.
The dog was finding warmth
In winter, dogs find ways to warmth themselves and preserve body heat.
What you don’t know is that your pup discovered sleeping close to the heater or fireplaces keeps his body warm.
But in the process, the part closest to the source of heat grows hotter than the rest of the body.
Most times, it is the head and the back that are faced towards the source of heat.
The dog was playing outside
In summer dogs love to go out and play in the sun with their humans.
The only difference is the dog is covered with fur which traps heat.
If your pup plays in the sun for too long, then his body temperature rises above normal.
Is your dog stressed?
If you are wondering if dogs get stressed, the truth is yes they do.
What’s more, the tiniest of things can get your dog stressed up real quick causing his body temperature to rise.
Here are perfect examples of situations that could stress your dog ;
- A sudden change in diet can stress your dog
- You are hosting people he doesn’t know. If your dog is not socialized to people, anyone who comes to your home and is not you will worry him
- A new pet is introduced into the house. Dogs do not like to share, especially if it is the affection and attention of their owner. If they feel they are competing, they will get stressed.
- Changing the environment. Dogs scent-mark their environments to feel safer in them. A new house or neighborhood means they have to draw the map again which can be stressful to them
Any new change that does not fall in your dog’s normal routine is likely to make him weary.
VIDEO: Things Which Stress Out Dogs
The dog is recovering from medication
Some vaccines and medications can cause a spike in body temperature.
As the dog tries to dissipate the excess heat, parts of his body will feel warmer.
The dog’s heat will be hotter as he cools off through his ears.
How long he remains hot depends on the duration the medication takes to clear.
Some medications will wear off after a day while others may take two days.
Dog head feels hot, what should you do?
It is normal for your dog’s head to warm up occasionally.
Find out if he was from playing outside or warming himself near the heater.
The dog’s body cools off gradually and returns to normal on these two occasions.
But if the dog’s head is warm longer than usual, you might want to check his temperature.
Any reading above 39℃ indicates your dog has a fever.
To get the right reading, you have to know how to check your dog’s temperature.
How to take your dog’s temperature: Step by step
1. Ensure your dog is in a standing position
2. Apply some oil onto the end of the thermometer that takes the reading
3. Gently insert the thermometer about one inch into your dog’s anus
4. Wait for the thermometer to beep which indicates it has taken the reading.
For non-digital thermometers, wait for 3 minutes before checking the reading
Ensure your dog is comfortable before you take the reading.
Do not distress your dog or he will nip you.
If you are not comfortable with the heavy lifting, leave it to a professional vet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, human thermometers will give the correct readings when used to check the temperature of pets. But given how you use the thermometer; it is safe to have a separate thermometer for Fido.
It is incorrect to check your dog’s temperature by touching the nose. A dog’s nose remains cold and wet because it helps the dog to detect and interpret scents. Also, dogs occasionally sweat through the nose to cool off. But the nose cannot give the correct body temperature.
Yes, you can take your dog’s temperature reading from the armpit. Insert the thermometer directly under the armpit and hold it in place for about 5 minutes. It usually takes longer to get the right measurement here compared to the rectum.
Dogs can tolerate temperatures as low as -4℃. Anything below that and they will lose body heat fast and get distressed. Also, dogs with double-coated fur can withstand cold temperatures better.