There’s nothing quite as comforting in this world to a dog owner than feeling the warmth of our dog’s body next to us.
It is normal for a dog’s temperature to feel warmer. But have you tried touching your dog’s head when it is feeling happy or excited?
Your dog’s head can get warm when it is feeling happy. Flushing is a natural response when your dog is feeling this way. You won’t notice a change in skin tone like humans but the increased blood flow to your dog’s head and facial regions makes it feel warmer. There are also health concerns that can increase your dog’s body temperature which we need to be aware of.
In this article, we will be discussing possible reasons that can cause your dog’s head to feel a lot warmer than usual.
Some of these reasons are health concerns that you need to know about for your dog’s safety.
Let’s get started.
Why Do Dogs’ Heads Get Warm When You Pet Them?
To understand why our dogs feel warmer in the first place is to learn more about their normal body temperature range.
At rest, a dog’s temperature is at 101-102.5 F. This is substantially higher than our own body temperature which ranges between 97-99 F.
Therefore, if you touch your dog’s head, it is going to feel ‘hotter’ to the touch, almost to the point where it feels like your dog has a fever.
Furthermore, if you are petting or rubbing your dog’s hot head, it will start to feel even warmer due to the increased blood flow to that area.
Why Does My Dog Feel Hot To The Touch?
If your dog’s head is hot to the touch due to feeling excited or pets, then all is good. But there are times when a higher temperature might indicate other possible reasons.
Your Dog Is Feeling Warm
Dogs and warm weather are like chalk and cheese.
They don’t go well together.
One very visible way to know that a dog is feeling warm is to observe how it pants. Panting is a dog’s natural cooling mechanism. It allows the dog to take circulate air quickly to cool the body.
A dog that is panting hard and fast is feeling very warm. Be mindful if your dog is panting harshly for too long as it indicates overheating.
Your dog’s ears can also start to feel warm if it is too hot as the warm blood is circulated to the ears to cool off.
If you are currently going through summer, try to ventilate or keep the house cool for your dog.
Give them more water to drink to cool down and take walks in the early mornings or evenings when it’s much cooler.
Your Dog Is Having A Fever
We fall sick from time to time and so do our dogs. A tell-tale sign that your dog isn’t feeling too well is when it is having a fever.
It isn’t possible to tell if your dog is really having a fever unless you take its temperature. A few other symptoms that your dog can show are:
- Lack of appetite
- Dog’s nose feels warm and dry
If your dog isn’t its usual self and feels hot to the touch, take your dog’s temperature to ascertain if it has a fever.
How Do I Check My Dog’s Body Temperature?
There are two ways to take your dog’s temperature. One is by using a ear thermometer which takes a reading from within your dog’s ear canal. The problem with using a ear thermometer is that it isn’t accurate if not inserted properly in your dog’s ear.
The second and most accurate way is to use a rectal thermometer which takes the reading from your dog’s anus.
A temperature reading of 103 F signifies that your dog has a fever. A reading of more than 106 F requires immediate medical attention at the vet as it can be life-threatening.
A fever in dogs can be caused by:
- Viral infection
- Bacterial infection
- Tooth infection
- Urinary tract infection
This isn’t an exhaustive list and I would strongly recommend that dog owners take their dogs to the vet if they have a fever to get treated.
You can’t just pop a couple of aspirin in your dog and expect it to be ok the next day. Please do not self-medicate your dog.
Your Dog Is Feeling The Effects Of Being Vaccinated
I turn into a feverish mess the day after my flu vaccine. For some reason, my body reacts not too greatly towards vaccine shots.
But it is a necessary evil.
Most Dogs too can experience some side effects after getting vaccinated. It is important for your dog’s health to get vaccinated especially when they are still puppies.
Fever is a common immune response which is a good sign. It shows that your dog’s body is responding to the vaccine and starting to build immunity against whatever the vaccine is targeting.
Other side effects of getting vaccinated are:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain or swelling around injection area
The severity of side effects depends mainly on how well your dog responds to the vaccine. Your vet will mentally prep you for the more commonly known side effects. But in the event that your dog isn’t doing too well after getting vaccinated, you should take it back to the vet for a follow-up.
Don’t be too soon to panic if your dog’s head feel hot or warm after its shot.
Your Dog Is Feeling Stressed
Your dog feeling warmer works on both ends of the emotional spectrum. Not only will your dog feel warm when it is happy, it can also feel warm when it is feeling stressed and fearful.
The body reacts the same way to both emotions but the hormone that is being released in the body is different.
When your dog is happy, the brain releases dopamine which is a ‘feel good’ hormone. When your dog is stressed, cortisol is secreted which helps the body regulate the body’s response to stress.
A dog can feel stress for a couple of reasons:
- New to the environment
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- New human or pet in the house
- Separation anxiety
You can see it in your dog’s behavior if it is feeling stressed. Your dog will tend to whine more, feel restless and pace around the house, has its tail tucked between its legs, ears pinned back against its head and shedding a lot more.
If you have just moved house, it is understandable for your dog to feel this way for a couple of weeks until it is settled in. Having a new family member or pet can also rattle some dogs. However, this can be overcome with a proper socialization process.
The thing which you need to be more concerned about is long-term elevated stress levels due to issues like PTSD and separation anxiety.
Being stressed out for long periods of time isn’t good for your dog’s well-being. It can least to a host of health and behavioral problems.
It is best to see a vet or pet behavioral therapist to see what can be done to reduce your dog’s stress levels. In more severe cases, medication might be prescribed to make your dog feel calmer
Your Dog Is Having An Allergic Reaction
I have a nose that is really sensitive to dust and I find myself having an allergic reaction whenever the air smells bad and dusty.
Besides getting caught up in seeing fits, I can also feel my body temperature rising.
Our dogs can also be allergic to the same thing as us. The common symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs are:
- Inflamed skin
- Itching ears
- Runny eyes
- Feels like having a fever
An allergic reaction in your dog is caused when the allergen (or culprit) enters its body. This triggers an immune response as the body tries to expel the allergens thus causing your dog to feel warmer.
Types Of Allergies In Dogs
Here are some different types of allergies that your dog can suffer from.
Some dogs can be allergic to certain ingredients that are found in their food or our food. As difficult as it might be, don’t feed your dog human food as it can contain trace ingredients that your dog might be allergic to.
Many dog parents tend to mistake food sensitivity with food allergy. Food sensitivity or intolerance can result in the same symptoms as an allergy but it doesn’t cause an immune response in your dog.
There are dogs that can be sensitive to chicken, beef, grain, wheat or soy. One ingredient that many dogs are sensitive to is dairy.
Dogs lose their ability to digest milk as they get older.
So if you don’t wish to give your dog explosive diarrhea, it’s best to not feed it dairy-based products.
This is the most common form of allergy in dogs that can cause their skin to be red, inflamed and itchy.
One common trigger is due to a flea infestation. Some dogs are allergic to the saliva of a flea which can cause an allergic reaction when the fleas start feeding on your dog.
Your dog’s skin can become inflamed and scabby which causes the dog to be scratching all the time.
There can also be other environmental triggers like dust, pollen and mold that can cause your dog’s skin to flare up.
Diagnosing And Treat Allergies In Dogs
Trying to single out what is exactly causing your dog’s allergy can be like looking for a needle in a haystack at times.
The vet will have to carry out an allergy test to narrow the options. Even doing an allergy test might not be conclusive.
In the event that the cause can be verified, the best form of treatment is avoidance is possible. However, if your dog is allergic is something as common as dust, the vet will prescribe some allergy relief medication to help your dog manage the symptoms.
Why Is My Dog’s Head Hot And Nose Dry?
If your dog’s head feels warm to the touch and its nose is dry, you might want to do a quick temperature check to see if it’s due to a fever. If the temperature reading is 103 F or more, your dog is having a fever and needs to see the vet.
If there’s no fever, monitor your dog for a day to see if it worsens. Chances are it could be nothing serious.
It is a nice feeling to know that your dog gets all warm and fuzzy when it is feeling happy or excited.
That aside, dog owners should also be aware when the rise in temperature is caused by a fever and do a temperature reading on their dog.
Sometimes, it is easy to just brush off the warmness as nothing when in fact your dog is having a high fever and needs medical attention.