You love on your dog every chance you get because he’s just so extremely lovable, but this morning, you throw your arms around him, and his stomach feels warmer than usual. You begin to panic, and 20 scenarios go through your mind about what could be going on with your precious dog. What should you do? Wait, the first question you need to find an answer to is — Why is my dog’s stomach so warm?

Why is my dog’s stomach so warm?

A dog’s average temperature runs between 99.5°F and 102.5°F. The standard for a normal temperature is 102.2°F. Obviously, you can expect a dog’s temperature to fluctuate a bit more than yours. One reason that you may feel the warmth of your dog’s stomach is simply that you have never noticed this before. Dogs have warm bodies, and where there is less hair, like on their bellies, you can feel the warmth more readily. If that’s not the reason, you may want to consider the following:

Your dog may be dealing with a minor illness.

Your dog may be fine. He may just be dealing with a minor illness, like a cold, a sting, or some inflammation. These types of illnesses will usually eventually disappear on their own without treatment.

Your dog may have a fever.

Your dog may have a fever, and while this is more serious than a cold, it may not be too serious. It could be something as simple as an ear infection or a urinary tract infection (UTI), or something much more serious, like poisoning. These are some common causes of fever:

Vaccinations

When a dog gets his vaccinations, he can often have a fever 24 to 48 hours after receiving his shots. He should be fine after that.

Bites, Scratches, Stings, or Cuts

If your dog has been bitten by an insect, scratched by a cat, stung by a bee, or cut by a metal fence, or the likes of these, he may develop a fever. It may be an allergic reaction, which you don’t need to get upset about, or he may have an infection, which will require a visit to the vet.

Ear Infections

Ear infections in dogs often cause fevers. This type of infection can be caused by water in the ears that can grow bacteria and fungus. Yeast or ear mites can be the culprit. Dogs can also get foreign objects in their ears, which can eventually cause an infection. A dog with an ear infection will often shake his head wildly and often.

UTIs

Urinary tract infections are another common cause of fever in dogs. UTIs in dogs are usually caused by E. coli bacteria, and fever is a common symptom. Other symptoms are cloudy or bloody urine and whimpering or straining during urination.

Infected or Abscessed Teeth

Infected or abscessed teeth often cause dogs to get a fever. Dogs can have dental problems just like people and may need to have teeth removed just like people, so you may need to visit your vet if you think this is his problem.

Bacterial or Viral Infections

Viral or bacterial infections can cause fevers in a dog and can only be accurately diagnosed by a vet. Other symptoms of infection are lethargy and the presence of pus and a bad odor coming from his ears.

Poisonings

Poisoning can also cause a fever, and this can be the most pressing and mortal illness you face. Poisonings can kill or cause irreparable damage in a very short amount of time. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to toxic plants (Hemlock, Mistletoe, and more…), antifreeze, human foods that are toxic to dogs (avocados, salt, Xylitol [an artificial sweetener]), or human medicines, get him to a vet immediately.

What should I do about my dog’s stomach being warm?

You need to first discover whether you need to do anything at all. If your dog’s temperature is under 102.5°F, he is probably just fine. If it is between 102.5°F and 103°F, he is probably dealing with some minor issue, and you can relax, and just keep an eye on him. Here are some tips on fever in dogs.

What should I do for my dog if he’s hot, but he’s acting fine?

If your dog is acting fine, but you feel he’s hot and that you need to intervene, you can use a cloth to apply cool water to his ears and paws. You should also keep plenty of fluids in him if you can, but sometimes, it’s hard when a dog has a fever, because he doesn’t feel like drinking. Watch him, in case he begins to show symptoms that something is wrong.

What are the signs that my dog may have a fever?

There are a few indicators that your dog may be feverish. Look for things like lethargy. Is he suddenly disinterested and sluggish? A feverish dog can lose his appetite or vomit. A dog with a fever may cough, but one of the most common signs of a feverish dog is shivering. You may also look for red eyes or a warm, dry nose.

How do I discover whether my dog has a fever?

There are many pieces of advice floating around out there about how to take your dog’s temperature without a thermometer. Ignore those. The only way to keep your dog safe is to get an accurate, exact temperature.

How do I take my dog’s temperature?

The only accurate way to assess your dog’s exact temperature is with a thermometer. The first rule is to not use a glass thermometer. There are two kinds of thermometers that you can use.

You may choose a rectal thermometer.

A rectal thermometer is cheaper than an ear thermometer, but it’s the most accurate of the two. The truth is that you actually have more than two thermometers to choose from. You can choose an “old-timey” rectal thermometer or a digital rectal thermometer. The digital thermometers are fast-acting, so your dog will probably be easier to handle with one of those, but it will cost more. To use a rectal thermometer, just slide a protective sleeve onto the thermometer, add a touch of lubricant (KY jelly or baby oil will do), and insert it just inside the rectum. You do not have to put it in far at all for it to work — no more than 1 inch. Remove it, discard the protective sleeve, read the temperature, and clean the thermometer with alcohol.

You may choose an ear thermometer.

An ear thermometer will be a bit more expensive and not as exact, but it is less invasive for the dog and will be accurate enough for this type of assessment. You just take the digital ear thermometer and insert it into the ear anywhere from 1 inch to 3 inches. You get a better reading closer to the eardrum, so first, hold your dog as still as possible while taking his temperature in the ear. Then, try using 1 inch for small dogs, 3 inches for really large dogs, and 2 inches for dogs that fall in between.

What do I do if my dog has a temperature?

If your dog’s temperature rises above 103°F, there is at least a somewhat serious issue with your dog’s health. If his temperature rises above 106°F, you are facing a very dangerous, possibly mortal illness. A fever of 106°F and above can damage a dog’s internal organs or cause their death. You will need to get your dog to his vet immediately for assessment and intervention. Never administer fever reducers meant for humans.

Why does my dog feel warm?

Don’t just assume that your dog has a fever because he feels warm. Watch his behavior. Take his temperature. When your dog does have a fever, it means he is fighting off something that is trying to cause him harm. It could be something as simple as a tick that has caused an infection or as complicated as cancer. Your dog may have even been harmed in some physical trauma like a fight or a fall and have internal bleeding or brain swelling. A temperature above 103°F calls for a trip to the vet, and a temperature above 106°F calls for an emergency trip to the vet.

Why does my dog’s head feel warm when I pet him?

A dog’s whole body runs hotter than ours does, so we have to be careful not to panic if his head feels warm. It could be simply that our hands are chilled because the thermostat is low. There is no reason to panic right away if your dog’s head feels warm. Above, in the What should I do about my dog’s stomach being warm? section, you read about the symptoms to look for that may indicate your dog has a fever. Other less common symptoms may be a nasal discharge or excessive panting.

What does it mean when my dog’s ears are warm?

If your dog’s ears are warm, it may be nothing. It may be because he has been exerting himself playing in the sun, or yes, he could have a fever. Your dog can have a fever for any or more than one of a number of reasons. If a dog’s ears are warm, it can, while not necessarily, point to a problem associated directly with his ears. He may have had an allergic reaction to something, a dog shampoo, perhaps, which caused itching and inflammation, which can lead to warmth. If you see him scratching or shaking his head like a mad dog, or if his ears smell bad, these are signs of an ear infection. Scratching and head-shaking can even be caused by a parasite like a tick that is growing and becoming more troublesome, which can cause an infection. 

If you feel that your dog has been poisoned, please call the Pet Poison Helpline immediately at (855) 764-7661.

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.