What is a Dog’s Body Temperature?

Your dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 99 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If their temperature falls below or exceeds these numbers, please seek professional assistance immediately from either an emergency veterinarian (or your regular one if open).

Rectal thermometers are the best way to accurately gauge a dog’s temperature, so use this tool with petroleum jelly or baby oil on its tip for maximum accuracy. Be sure to praise and reward your pup during this process for an enjoyable experience on both ends!


Take your dog’s temperature in one of several ways. Rectal measurements tend to provide the most accurate readings; this method usually only works on very calm dogs willing to allow it. A thermometer lubricated with petroleum jelly or water-soluble lubricant works best; then gently advanced (not pushed) through their anus up into their rectum (for small dogs), up to two inches into it for larger breeds (or any resistance, stop immediately). If resistance occurs such as biting, you should discontinue this measurement immediately and end this measurement immediately.

Some pet owners may be tempted to attempt taking their dog’s temperature orally; however, this can often prove challenging and result in inaccurate readings. Oral temperatures tend to be unreliable because they can be affected by factors like food in the stomach, drinks consumed, and saliva produced; for more accurate readings it’s best to use a digital rectal thermometer available in most pet stores.

At this measurement stage, it’s advisable to seek assistance from another person so as to keep your dog calm and prevent it from biting or trying to bite as the thermometer is being inserted. Always wash the thermometer in soapy hot water before using and apply petroleum jelly or another lubricant so as to facilitate its insertion into the rectum; be particularly wary not inserting it into any feces that could give an inaccurately low reading.

As soon as your dog’s temperature is taken, make sure it is recorded safely. After considering other symptoms and reading your dog’s thermometer readings, note the results carefully in a safe place before writing them down. Remember that taking your pet’s temperature is just a snapshot in time; it doesn’t indicate illness. Even healthy pets sometimes experience abnormal temperatures due to exercise causing his immune system to respond with increased body heat production resulting in elevated temperature that returns back down once he stops exerting himself and has returned back down again.

Taking Thermometer Readings

Temperature-taking for your dog is one of the key components of pet first aid. A normal temperature for canines ranges between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit; any deviations could indicate illness or infection, and cooling or changing their diet could help alleviate symptoms temporarily; however, only visiting a vet will give an accurate diagnosis and determine why there’s fever in your pup’s system.

Ideal results require taking your dog’s temperature subrectally, using a thermometer designed for pets with a thin layer of petroleum jelly or water-based lubricant applied to its tip before inserting it in their rectum. Allow one or two minutes for it to sit there before digital thermometers will notify you they have completed reading – however if your pup becomes aggressive during this process or attempts to bite you then abort reading and seek medical assistance immediately.

If your pup will not tolerate being held rectal, their approximate temperature can still be taken using an underarm temperature reading. For an accurate reading, first clean the area using antibacterial cleanser before gently lifting an ear flap and inserting a thermometer tip at an acute 90-degree angle into their ear canal – offering lots of praise while doing this may help relax them while helping ease anxiety. Though this method is the least invasive way to measure their temperature, most dogs won’t tolerate having something stuck into their ears for very long so ideally rectal readings are preferred when measuring temperature.

An alternative option for measuring temperature accurately in pets is a non-contact infrared thermometer, which works by reflecting infrared heat waves off their skin without direct contact between device and subject. Unfortunately, however, these devices have yet to prove accurate enough when measuring them and results can often vary by several degrees from humans.


Normal temperatures for dogs range between 99.5 and 102.5 F, so any increase above this point is typically either fever or hyperthermia; fever is most often indicative of immune system attacks against foreign objects while hyperthermia usually results from heat exposure or overexertion.

If you suspect your pup is sick, look out for symptoms such as panting, acting lethargic, shivering, loss of appetite and runny nose. A high-grade fever lasting more than 24 hours usually indicates infection from bacteria, fungal or viral infections; infections of ears, urinary tract or gastrointestinal tract infections also frequently contribute to dog fever; cancer treatments or immune-stimulating drugs could be another possible trigger of fever in some instances.

Use of a rectal thermometer is the most accurate way of diagnosing pet fevers. To make it more comfortable for your pup and easier for you, lubricate the tip with petroleum jelly prior to taking their reading. If they won’t cooperate, gently touch their tail base or ear to see if they feel hotter.

Fever may be accompanied by other symptoms of illness in dogs such as diarrhea, vomiting and dry, hacking coughing. Some medications like antibiotics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also induce fever in your pup; antibiotics or NSAIDs could even trigger it! To be on the safe side, avoid giving over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen without first consulting a vet, as these drugs could potentially have severe and sometimes fatal side effects in dogs.

Any sudden or rapid increase in temperature should always warrant a trip to the vet, even if your dog seems normal otherwise. Temperatures under 103 degrees Fahrenheit can generally be monitored at home for 24 hours before making an appointment at your local emergency vet; any higher will require emergency treatment immediately as your pup could potentially perish without medical assistance.

Other Symptoms

Fever can be a telltale sign of illness, but it may also be your body’s way of protecting itself against infections or other conditions. If your dog appears to have fever symptoms such as runny nose, loss of appetite, panting, shivering or general malaise it’s important to assess other potential indicators first before trying anything drastic like giving antibiotics or administering other treatments.

An accurate way of diagnosing canine fever is with a digital rectal thermometer, although this may seem intrusive at first. You can buy digital rectal thermometers specifically made for dogs or basic digital thermometers that is marked “dog thermometer.” To insert, simply lubricate its end with petroleum jelly or similar and insert slowly into their rectum – approximately 1 or 2 inches depending on their size – until it slides in easily or beeps to let you know it has completed its work and provide immediate readout within minutes or when its beep indicates completion.

As playing, running or lying in the sun are known to increase temperatures in dogs, taking their temperatures right after these activities will only elevate it further. Also, being excited and worked up such as when visiting the vet’s office can cause their normal body temperatures to increase rapidly – so taking temperatures once they have calmed down and are more relaxed is best practice.

Signs of fever in dogs include lethargy, shivering or uncontrollable shaking, irritability or aggression, not eating or drinking and possibly vomiting. Fever may also change the color of your gums to yellow or red; or cause them to have an unpleasant taste in their mouths.

Sometimes fever strikes for no obvious reason; this condition is known as fever of unknown origin and could be the result of immune system disorders or bone marrow issues. Your veterinarian will help identify its source and recommend appropriate treatments should your pet present with such symptoms.

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