We've all taken our pet to the vet and seen how they check the dog's temperature. It's not pretty, but sometimes it needs to be done. Learning how to take a dog's temperature could actually be a huge benefit if your dog becomes ill. It's one of the best ways to catch an illness before it becomes something more serious.
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In this guide, I'll explain how to take your dog's temperature using a thermometer. If you do not have a pet thermometer, see this guide on how to take the temperature without one. However, thermometer will be much more accurate, and you can buy one cheaply.
Taking a Dog's Temperature
First, let's go over why taking a dog's temperature is important. There are a few ways you can tell if a dog has a fever before taking the dog's temperature. Be on the lookout for:
- excessively warm ears
- lethargy or depressed mood
- loss of appetite
- nasal discharge
A dog fever can mean that your pooch has a minor infection, like an ear infection or an abscessed tooth. It could also be a sign of a more serious illness such as an infection in the dog's kidneys or lungs, a urinary tract infection, or a bacterial or viral disease.
A dog's normal temperature is not the same as human's body temperature.
That's one major reason why more pet owners don't realize when their dog is feverish. A dog's normal body temperature is between 101° and 102.5°. Whenever the dog's temperature goes over 103° it's considered as a fever.
If you learn how to take a dog's temperature and get a reading of more than 103°, you need to call your vet. The veterinarian will ask about other symptoms and let you know if it's necessary to bring your dog into the clinic, or if you can wait and monitor the dog at home.
If you get a reading higher than 105°, you need to rush your dog to the vet right away – this is a medical emergency.
At 106°, the dog could suffer serious complications or even die. Like in humans, fever in dogs is nothing to take lightly. You need to learn how to take a dog's temperature with a thermometer or without a thermometer, and observe your pet for any signs of fever. Plus, taking your dog's temperature will only take a few minutes.
How to Take a Dog's Temperature With a Thermometer
The only accurate way to measure your dog's temperature is rectally, and using either a regular thermometer like your own, or a pet thermometer for dogs. If you dread going down there, just imagine how your dog feels.
Quick tip: I recommend buying a new dog thermometer for your pet and label it “dog thermometer.” That way it will never be used on humans by mistake. I would also advise purchasing a digital thermometer. You won't run the risk of having a glass thermometer break, and you don't have to deal with mercury. Digital thermometers are also much faster and give more accurate readings.
You should keep your labeled dog thermometer in your dog's first aid kit, so you always have it on hand and can grab it quickly.
1. Get the Supplies
When learning how to take a dog's temperature, it's important to have the right supplies. Other than the pet thermometer itself, you'll need something to lubricate the thermometer, something to apply the lubricant with, and something to clean it.
Here are the supplies you will need:
- Petroleum jelly (for lubrication)
- Baby oil (for lubrication)
- Cotton balls (for application)
- Q-tips (for application)
- Rubbing alcohol (for cleaning)
2. Take Your Dog's Temperature
First, use either petroleum jelly or baby oil to lubricate the thermometer. Once you've applied lubrication, it's time to insert the thermometer.
You may want to ask someone to help you distract your dog if you think he's going to try to get away or wiggle around while you're trying to get an accurate temperature.
Insert the end of the thermometer into the dog's rectum about 1-inch. Hold it still until it finishes reading the temperature. Usually, digital thermometers will beep when they are done.
Remove the thermometer and thoroughly clean it. Use rubbing alcohol to wipe off the remaining lubrication. If you don't have rubbing alcohol, make sure to wash it thoroughly with hot water and a mild soap.
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