When your dog is ill, it's often important to know whether or not he has a fever because it may help you decide if he needs immediate veterinary care. While you may have heard that feeling your dog's nose or ears is a good way to determine if he's feverish, it is by no means accurate. You need to get his internal temperature, and the most reliable way to do that is with a rectal thermometer.
How to use a rectal thermometer
It's not difficult to take your dog's temperature rectally, but it is a task best performed by two people. Have someone hold the dog still, preferably someone the dog knows and likes. If no help is available, make your dog lie down on his side and hold him as best you can, while talking to him soothingly. After shaking down the thermometer and lubricating it well with petroleum jelly, lift his tail and gently push the thermometer in with a twisting motion. Insert the thermometer from one to three inches, depending on the size of your dog and hold it in place for at least two minutes.
After you remove the thermometer, wipe it cleanve and read the temperature by the height of the silver column of mercury on the thermometer scale. A temperature of 100.5° to 102°F degrees is normal.
Taking your dog's temperature by ear
When used properly, ear thermometers are a reliable and less invasive way to take your dog's temperature. An ear thermometer works by measuring infrared heat waves that are emitted from the dog's eardrum area. Be sure to place the thermometer deep into the horizontal ear canal to obtain an accurate reading. A dog's normal ear temperature is between 100° to 103°F. Note that ear thermometers are generally more expensive than rectal thermometers and, if not used properly, are less accurate.
When to contact your vet
Any time a dog's temperature falls below 99°F or rises above 103°F, you should contact your veterinarian. If your dog has a high temperature, it can be a sign that he is suffering from an infection or an illness. A low temperature, on the other hand, can indicate shock or other serious illness. In either case, it's best to err on the side of caution.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.