How to Take a Dog’s Temperature

Use a digital rectal thermometer designed for pets to accurately take your dog’s temperature.

Tricolor purebred puppy
A dog’s temperature naturally runs higher than a human’s. A normal temperature for a dog is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. © Ocskaymark/ Getty Images

To take your dog’s temperature, use an assistant to gently restrain and keep your dog still and distracted. Apply a small amount of lube, such as petroleum jelly, to the tip of a digital rectal thermometer. Insert the thermometer approximately one inch into the dog’s rectum until you hear a beeping sound to indicate the temperature has been read. Once done, gently remove the thermometer and disinfect it.

What is a normal temperature for a dog?

A normal temperature for a dog is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures outside of this range could indicate an underlying health issue that should be addressed by a veterinarian.

Can I take my dog’s temperature with a human thermometer?

Digital rectal thermometers designed specifically for pets are recommended because they are fast and accurate. However, if a pet thermometer is unavailable, a human oral thermometer can be used in the same way as previously described. Ear thermometers may also be used but they tend to be less accurate for dogs. Since a dog’s temperature naturally runs higher than a person’s temperature, human thermometers may also display a fever warning when there is not actually one present.

When should I check my dog’s temperature?

Check your dog’s temperature for the following reasons:

  • to rule out a fever if he feels warm
  • if you suspect he is sick.
  • If your dog has spent an extended period of time outdoors in hot weather, you may consider checking a temperature if the dog begins showing signs of heat stroke.

Read our article about how to cool a dog down in the summer.

What to avoid

If a dog starts squirming or clenching when you try to take his temperature, do not proceed. Trying to take the temperature of an uncooperative dog can cause unnecessary stress, which may lead to aggression. If in doubt, consult a veterinarian prior to taking your dog’s temperature to ensure it is necessary for the situation.

1 thought on “How to Take a Dog’s Temperature”

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