Fever in dogs and catsHaving a body temperature that is higher than normal is usually associated with fever. A fever is typically caused by inflammation or infection. A temperature rise is part of the body's normal defence mechanism and fulfils an important function. A rectal temperature above 39.2 degrees C is considered abnormal in dogs and cats. In this article you can read more about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of fever - and when it's time to contact a vet!This article was written by a FirstVet vetDid you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced, UK registered vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.✓ Included free as part of many pet insurance policies✓ Help, treatment and if you need it, a referral to your local vet✓ Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year Rating: 4.9 - more than 1600 reviewsRating: 4.9 - more than 1300 reviewsRating: 4.9 - more than 1600 reviews BOOK Causes of a temperatureIn addition to infection and inflammation, a high temperature can be caused by immunological diseases, traumatic tissue damage, tumours, heat stroke, seizures, allergic reactions, pain, stress or heavy exercise, as well as in response to certain drugs, such as vaccines.Symptoms of fever in dogs and catsDullLethargyAnxiousIncreased breathing rate or effortReduced appetiteDrinking moreTremblingPinker or redder gums than normalIncreased heart rateDiagnosis - how to find out if your pet has a feverTo know if your dog or cat has a high body temperature, you need to take their rectal temperature. You cannot accurately assess body temperature by feeling the nose, ears, tongue or paw. At rest, the normal temperature is around 38.3 degrees C. It is useful to take the temperature of your animal a couple of times when it is well, so that you know what is the normal temperature for your particular animal.Tip! Here you can see how to take the temperature of your pet.Treatment of a feverIf your dog or cat has a mild temperature rise (below 39.2 degrees C) but is otherwise in good health, you can often wait and keep a close eye on them for any other signs that might develop. It may also be a good idea to contact a vet for some advice. Ensure your pet is allowed to rest, stays hydrated and eats small regular meals.If the animal is showing any of the signs above, or does not start showing signs of improvement, a vet examination is likely to be needed. Blood samples, and x-rays or an ultrasound scan may be the first steps to finding out what the problem is. The treatment will depend on what the cause is. Sometimes, your pet may need to stay at the clinic for monitoring and treatment, such as a drip (intravenous fluid therapy).Can I prevent infections in my dog or cat?It is difficult to protect against all infections, just as with humans. Make sure that your dog or cat receives their recommended vaccinations and boosters. A healthy diet and body condition is also important. Knowing what is normal for your pet will help you to spot abnormal symptoms early. Avoid sharing water bowls, food bowls and toys with other animals outside the household will also help to reduce the risk of infections.Here you can read more about vaccinations for dogs and cats!When should you contact a vet?If your dog or cat has a high temperature and is feeling under the weather, or you notice any other symptoms, contact your vet for advice. You can start by booking a video appointment with one of our vets at FirstVet for an initial assessment. If the temperature is above 40 degrees C, you should see a vet as soon as possible.