As pet parents, we never stop worrying about our fur babies. If you notice your dog is hot, it’s natural to worry about their health. Your dog can feel hot for many reasons. Some of these require veterinary treatment. However, it can also be a misinterpretation, which is nothing to be concerned about. 

Why does my dog feel so hot?

Your dog hops in your lap and they feel hotter than normal. You begin to worry about your furry companion. Are they ok? Why do they feel so hot? 

Dog Temperatures

Your dog’s average temperature runs between 99.5°F and 102.5°F. The most common canine temperature for a healthy dog is 102.2.  If your dog has a temperature of 103 or higher, they have a fever. 

It’s Only Perception

Human temperatures run between 97.6-99.6. This is a few degrees cooler than your dog. Your dog may feel warm to you because their temperature is naturally a bit higher. 

If you are cold, this may be the reason your dog feels hot. Instead of their temperature being too high, you are just too cold. The most common cause of this is cold hands. If your hands are cold, your dog can feel much warmer than they are. You may perceive them as being very hot, even though they have a normal temperature. 

Illness

No one wants their dog to be sick. It can be scary to have an ill pooch. If your dog has a fever, 103 degrees or higher, an illness might be to blame. 

Dogs can get many of the same illnesses humans do. Symptoms will be similar as well. Common dog illnesses included UTI, bacterial infection, viral infection.

Signs your dog has an illness include lethargy, stiffness, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, runny nose, cough, frequent urination, and wheezing. Your dog will likely only experience some of these symptoms, or only fever, depending on their illness. 

Vaccinations

Vaccinations can also cause a fever. Typically, the fever will be mild. Your dog may experience tiredness and loss of appetite as well. Fever due to vaccines should only last 24-48 hours after the vaccination. If it continues beyond 48 hours, or the fever is 104 or above, contact your veterinarian. 

If your dog experiences breathing difficulties, take them to the vet immediately. Severe vaccine reactions are rare, but they are possible. 

Poisoning

Poisoning can also raise your dog’s temperature. Household chemicals, chocolate, and some house plants are a few items that are toxic to dogs. If you find signs your dog has ingested something toxic, bring them to the vet immediately. 

Other signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Severe poisoning can result in internal bleeding, which can come out in your dog’s vomit or waste. 

Hyperthermia

When the body temperature rises too high and the cause is external rather than internal, the dog has hyperthermia. Fever is an internal cause of a high temperature, while external factors include high ambient temperature and exercise.

Heatstroke 

If your dog feels hot after being in hot temperatures, they may have heat stroke. Some dogs tolerate heat better than others. Your dog can give you clues to its heat tolerance.

Dogs with a short coat are more heat tolerant than those with long thick coats. Dogs with a long snout can also tolerate heat better than those with short snouts, because it allows them to cool the air before it is breathed in. 

Keep in mind that any dog can develop heatstroke under the right conditions. A good rule of thumb is if you are hot, your dog is as well. 

Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting and excessive drooling. As it progresses, the dog will be lethargic, drowsy, and uncoordinated. They may vomit. Severe heatstroke will cause your dog to collapse or lose consciousness.

Heavy Exercise

Your dog’s body temperature will rise as it exercises, just as yours does. Humans sweat to cool down, but dogs don’t have this ability. Typically, exercise doesn’t raise your dog’s temperature enough to be dangerous.

However, if they are exercising in hot weather, you’ll need to monitor their temperature closely. The more vigorous the exercise, the higher the risk of your dog overheating.

Some dogs are at a higher risk of hyperthermia due to exercise. These include dogs who are obese, dogs with breathing difficulties or airway obstruction, and dogs with a dark coat. 

Why does my dog’s belly feel so hot?

It’s natural to be concerned when your dog’s belly feels hot. The good news is there are some possible benign causes. However, it can also be a sign of illness or injury. 

Lack of Hair

Some dogs have no hair at all on their stomach. Other dogs have a thin sparse layer of hair. This means that you’ll be able to feel the temperature of the belly more than you will on areas of the body covered with hair. It’s possible your dog’s belly only feels hot because you are feeling their skin itself, without a thick layer of insulating hair. 

Fever

Fever will cause your dog’s entire body to be hotter than normal. However, they may feel particularly hot on their stomach. The lack of hair makes temperature changes more noticeable on the stomach than most other areas. 

Bite or Sting

Dogs can get insect bites and stings just as a person can. If your dog experiences a bite or sting, the area around it may feel hotter than usual.

If you’ve ever been stung, you likely noticed that the area felt hot and swelled. This is because the toxins cause inflammation. Since your dog’s belly is not covered with hair, you’ll notice this reaction. If your dog is stung on the back, for example, you may not feel the change in temperature. 

Cut or Scratch

Cuts and scratches can also cause an inflammatory response that brings heat. However, it should feel only slightly warmer than normal. If it’s significantly hotter, it may be infected. 

An infected cut will swell and feel hot to the touch. The area around the cut will be red. It may ooze a white, green, or yellow pus as well. It will have an unpleasant smell, particularly if there’s discharge from the cut. 

If the infection is severe, your dog may develop fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. These are signs the infection has spread to the bloodstream. You should also look out for red streaks around the cut. This is another sign that the infection is spreading. 

Genetics

Some dogs are simply naturally hotter than others. If you’ve had your canine companion for more than a few weeks, you probably know their normal temperature by feel. If your dog consistently feels a little warm, but doesn’t have a fever or signs of illness or injury, it’s likely just genetics. 

Irritation or Rash

Skin irritation, skin infection, and rash are common dog problems. They cause inflammation and heat as well. If you notice a rash, hair loss, or lesions on your dog, along with heat, this is the culprit. 

Laying on Something

This is the most amusing reason for your dog’s belly to be hot. Some dogs love the feeling of warmth, and will seek it out at any opportunity. They may have lain on a heating pad, or found a sunny spot on the floor. Pavement can get quite warm, even without soaring temperatures. If your dog has been laying on something warm, their belly will feel hot. 

Your dog’s belly can also heat up from being in your lap. Cuddles can raise the temperature of your dog’s stomach, particularly if they were laying in a warm lap. 

Why does my dog’s head get so hot?

It’s concerning when your dog’s head gets very hot. After all, the brain can be damaged if the temperature rises too high. However, it can be something as simple as being near a heat source. In addition to the reasons listed above, there are a few potential causes. 

Stress

Ever heard the phrase hot under the collar? High-stress situations can actually raise your temperature. It can happen to dogs as well. If your dog is experiencing lots of stress, this may be why their head is hot. 

Tooth Infection 

The infection causes inflammation, which causes heat. If your dog’s tooth or mouth is infected, their head will feel hot. They may have a  fever, or may only be hot around the area of infection. 

Near a Heat Source (heater, sun)

Why are my dog’s ears hot?

Fever

If your dog develops a fever, the ears and paws will heat up quickly, and be hotter than other areas of the body. These areas often have little to no hair, making heat easier to feel. They also contain a lot of blood vessels, which causes them to respond quickly to changes in temperature. 

Ear Infection

An ear infection will cause heat and inflammation. If you notice that one ear is hotter than the other, an ear infection is a likely culprit. 

Natural Cooling System

Your dog doesn’t sweat to cool off. Instead, they have two different cooling mechanisms. Panting is the most well-known. However, they also cool the blood by directing it through the ears. Because the ears are more exposed than other parts of the body, they get more wind. This helps cool the blood, which is then directed back through the body. 

What to do about my dog’s head being hot?

What to do about your dog’s head being hot will depend on the cause of the heat. 

Taking Their Temperature

If you suspect your dog has a fever or hyperthermia, you’ll need to take their temperature. A rectal thermometer is the most accurate method, but an ear thermometer is more convenient. 

A rectal temperature of 103 is considered a fever. A rectal temperature of 106 or higher requires immediate veterinary care. At this temperature, brain damage can occur. 

Evaluate for Signs of Illness or Overheating

Is your dog displaying symptoms of illness, like coughing or vomiting? Have they been exposed to heat or vigorous exercise, which can cause them to overheat? 

Dogs Acts Normal

Your dog feels hot, but they are acting normally. They may or may not have a fever. In this case, you can apply a cool compress to their paws and ears. Offer them plenty of water.

Monitor them for signs of illness, and take their temperature again if they begin to feel hotter. 

Dog Has Fever or Feels Unwell

If your dog is showing signs of illness or has a fever, you’ll need to take them to the vet. If the temperature is high or they are showing severe signs of illness, you may need emergency veterinary care. 

If they have a mild fever and mild symptoms, you can make a vet appointment and bring them in within 24 hours. 

Dog Has Heat Stroke

If you suspect your dog has a heat stroke, the first thing you’ll need to do is get them out of the heat. If you can’t bring them into the air conditioning, bring them into the shade. 

Poor cool water over them. Be sure it’s not cold, because it can send them into shock. You can also place wet towels on them or place them in front of a fan. Give them cool water to drink. Continue pouring cool water on them until they cool down.

As soon as they are cooled down enough, bring them to the vet. Panting should slow and their breathing should return to normal before you move them. The vet will check to be sure there’s no damage from the heatstroke that requires medical attention. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.