How to Take a Dog’s Temperature
When it comes to your dog’s health it’s important to be able to recognize when things are not right and act if you suspect your pooch is unwell. And one way to determine if your pet is out of sorts is to read and understand their temperature. A high temperature can indicate fever and means your dog may need veterinary care so knowing how to accurately check whether all is ok by taking their temperature is an essential skill to learn. We take a look at what to do if you suspect your dog has a temperature.
What is Normal for Your Dog?
To understand whether your pet has a fever, the starting point is to know what is normal for your dog. Canines actually have a higher normal body temperature than humans which is why they often feel lovely and warm when you give them a cuddle. A normal dog temperature is between 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit and this is the same for your puppy temperature. Temperatures above 103.5 °F or below 99°F indicating something is wrong and you need to get him seen by a vet pronto. A low dog temperature can be just as serious as a high one so if in doubt seek professional advice.
Signs Your Dog’s Temperature May not be Normal
As pet owners we are usually well tuned into the behavior and overall wellbeing of our pooches and are usually able to spot the warning signs that all is not well. With high (hyperthermic) or low (hypothermic) temperature, symptoms can be obvious but sometimes more subtle, so it is good to know what to look for.
A dog with a high temperature will be lethargic and less alert than normal and may be shivering or trembling. Low temperature in a dog will also present with lethargy and they may also be panting, and their gums could be a darker red than normal. Either way, your pup will be feeling pretty low and miserable so his behavior will be different too.
How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature
Just looking at your dog or touching their nose or ears for signs of heat or dryness, is not really going to tell you whether they have an abnormal body temperature. The only way to be sure is to use a thermometer and get an accurate temperature reading. Before we look at the best ways to take your dog’s temperature, it’s important to consider the right thermometers to use.
There are two main types of dog thermometer – digital/infrared, which can be inserted into the ear canal and rectal, which as the name implies needs to be inserted in your dog’s rectum. Both methods can meet with resistance from your pet but of the two, taking their temperature rectally is the most effective and accurate.
How to Use a Rectal Thermometer
Using a rectal thermometer is going to get you a more accurate reading as it enables you to take their inner temperature but isn’t the most dignified. However, it is quick and doesn’t hurt but to keep your pet calm and cooperative, we suggest using two people to carry out the task – one to hold your dog still and the other to take the reading. If there is just one of you, get your pet to lie down on his side, otherwise he can remain standing. To take a rectal temperature, first shake down the thermometer or if it is digital, turn it on and then lubricate it well with petroleum jelly. Now calmly lift your hound’s tail and gently push in the thermometer, using a smooth, twisting motion. The thermometer needs to go between one and three inches in, depending on the size of your pooch and then held in place for two minutes, or until the timer goes off, if you have a digital timer device. Gently remove the thermometer and wipe it clean so you can read the temperature – anything above 103.5 °F or below 99°F needs veterinary attention.
Alternative Ways to Take Their Temperature
If your pooch is really resistant to the rectal thermometer, there are other ways to take their temperature, although they can be less accurate.
Via their ear: Digital ear thermometers are less invasive and should give a reliable reading from your dog. They work by measuring the infrared heat that is emitting from your pet’s eardrum. You will need to ensure the thermometer is placed deep enough in their ear canal to obtain an accurate reading; hold it at a 90-degree angle and don’t ever force the thermometer into the ear canal.
Under their arm: If your dog is not having any of the other two methods of taking his temperature, you can take it under their arm, but this will give a less accurate reading, so is more of an indication that fever or low temperature is present. Simply place the tip of your dog thermometer under their armpit and hold your dog’s arm down so the thermometer is snug and secure. Keep it there for three minutes if you can, or until the thermometer beeps as it will take longer to get a reading than the rectal method. Now add one degree to the reading to get an estimate of his body temperature.
What to Do if Your Dog’s Temperature is Abnormal
If the thermometer is showing an abnormal reading, try to stay calm so you don’t alarm your pet. If you can, take a second reading to be sure you have not had a false result (this can happen if your dog is excited or agitated). Remember – a dog’s normal temperature range is between 100 to 102.5°F, so if your readings are below 99°F or above 103.5° your pooch could have an infection or illness and is going to need to see the vet as soon as possible. But even if your pet’s temperature isn’t this extreme and you are still concerned, then always err on the side of caution and seek professional advice.