How to take your dog’s body temperature at home

When we feel ill, we take our body temperature to see if we are just tired, or is it something worse. But did you know you can also take a body temperature of your dog (and cat), as well? In this article, you will learn how to take your dog’s temperature at home. You will also learn what the normal body temperature of dogs is.

This is how to take a dog's body temperature
Photo by Dmytro Sidelnikov

Increase of body temperature may signal for an infection as the immune system rises it take care of viruses and bacteria.

Dogs have a higher body temperature than we do

The first thing people fall in and consider a healthy dog ill is because of the normal temperature of the dog. It’s a bit higher than we have.

A normal body temperature of a dog is (according to “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook”):

  • For adult dogs 100 – 102.5 F (37.7 – 39.2 C)
  • For newborn puppies 94 – 97 F (34.4 – 36.1 C)

Please note that higher body temperature does not always mean illness. The body temperature may be increased after physical activity when your dog is in heat, have just had a great meal, during stress, or if the dog is overweight (which is not great anyway).

So when you take dog’s temperature after a long walk, don’t be stressed out if it’s too high. Retake it after 30 minutes or an hour, if you want a reliable result.

How to take your dog’s body temperature

So here is how you take a body temperature of dogs:

  • Dog’s body temperature is measured rectally. Use a regular digital thermometer. For hygiene purposes, we recommend you to use thermometer other that you use yourself. May do it with a mercury thermometer; however, it is not recommended and must be done with caution. Besides, mercury or alcohol thermometers take longer to get the reading.
  • Best if you can get an assistant who could hold your dog’s head or body, pet him or talk to him. Measuring temperature rectally is not the most pleasant activity for the dog.
  • Lubricate sensor of the thermometer with petroleum jelly or any water-based lubricant.  Don’t use a jelly that has irritating ingredients as they may cause discomfort or problems if the dog is licking himself after the procedure.
  • Put the sensor side of the thermometer in a rectum of your dog. If your dog is not standing still, you may hold him by his tail close to the base. Assistant my talk to a dog or hold him and cheer up. Be wary; the dog may stress or even show aggression during the procedure. However, we hope you know your dog well enough. Some will become angry, while some may not pay attention to the procedure at all.
  • After the measurement, take it out and read the temperature. Compare it to the normal body temperature of dogs (read above).

Please note, the body temperature cannot be taken as the only criteria to determine if the dog is ill as body temperature may rise for other reasons as well. It’s just one more thing to check.

There are other things that tell if the dog is not healthy. Like coat shine and firmness, activity and buoyancy, reaction to calling or something happening. If some of those symptoms are present, you may take your dog’s body temperature before taking him to a vet. In any case, a vet visit is always a better choice than to take your dog’s body temperature at home.

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