We've all taken our pet to the vet and seen how they check his 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.
When and why take your dog's temperature
First, let's talk about why taking a dog's temperature is important. There aren't any definite signs of canine fever, but you should always check your dog's temperature if you see any of these symptoms:
- excessively warm ears
- lethargy or depressed mood
- loss of appetite
- nasal discharge
A fever could mean that your dog 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 kidney or lungs, a urinary tract infection, or a bacterial or viral disease.
That's one major reason why more pet owners don't realize when their dog is feverish. A canine's normal body temperature is between 101° and 102.5°. Any temperature over 103° is considered 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. They'll ask about other symptoms and let you know if it's necessary to bring your dog in or if you can wait and monitor him at home.
If you get a reading higher than 105°, you need to rush your dog to the vet immediately!
At 106°, your dog could suffer serious complications or even die. Like in humans, fevers in dogs are nothing to take lightly. You need to learn how to take a dog's temperature and observe your pet for any signs of fever. Taking his temperature will only take a few minutes, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
How to Take a Dog's Temperature With a Thermometer
The only accurate way to measure your dog's temperature is rectally, ideally using a specially designed pet thermometer for dogs. If you dread going down there, just imagine how your dog feels! My advice is get a thermometer for your pet and label it “dog thermometer.” That way it will never be used on humans by mistake.
I would also recommend purchasing a digital thermometer. You don't run the risk of having a glass thermometer break, and you don't have to deal with mercury. They're also much faster and give more accurate readings.
You should keep your dog thermometer in your pet first aid kit, so you always have it on hand and can grab it quickly.
When learning how to take a dog's temperature, it's important to have the right supplies. You'll need something to lubricate the thermometer, like petroleum jelly or baby oil. You'll also need something to apply it, like a cotton ball or Q-tip.
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.