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Knowing your dog’s body temperature before picking up the phone and calling your veterinarian can be a huge help in determining if immediate care is needed, and it’s something most veterinarians will ask right away.
The easiest and most accurate way to take your dog’s temperature is rectally. So, keep a dedicated rectal thermometer in your pet’s first aid kit and be prepared!
1. Enlist the help of a friend or family member.
Most dogs won’t be too thrilled about having their temperature taken rectally. Have someone ready to assist you in case you need a second set of hands – and you probably will. Even if your friend is only there for moral support, calming and soothing your dog, or feeding him treats during the measurement, it will make the process much easier on you both!
2. Prepare the thermometer.
When taking your dog’s temperature, you’ll want to use a digital quick-read thermometer. Either sterilize the thermometer with alcohol pads or use a probe cover and lubricate the tip with a dab of petroleum jelly to make insertion easier and more comfortable for your pup.
3. Get your dog ready.
With your dog standing up (to avoid injury), lift his tail while your friend/helper keeps him calm and still. Talk to him in a soft, gentle voice as you slowly insert the thermometer, about one inch into the rectum. It isn’t necessary, and could harm your dog, to insert the thermometer any further. Do not force the thermometer tip into your dog’s rectum. If you have difficulty with insertion, take your pet to his veterinarian for an accurate reading.
4. Take the reading.
Follow the thermometer’s instructions for taking a temperature and wait for the temperature to be displayed before removing it from your dog’s rectum. Make a note of your dog’s temperature and monitor it for changes.
5. Does your dog have a fever?
A dog’s normal body temperature should be between 100.5 and 102.5. If your dog’s recorded temperature in within this range, he is not running a fever. Higher or lower than this range, however, can indicate illness. If your dog’s temperature is outside of the acceptable range by 1.5 degrees or more, immediately contact your veterinarian.
Although a rectal temperature is the most accurate, some people simply have too hard a time taking their dog’s temperature this way at home. Although the result is less accurate, infrared ear thermometers designed for a dog’s ear canal can provide a result much more quickly. While the result may not be as accurate, an ear thermometer is a good way to monitor whether your dog’s temperature is stable or increasing by recording measurements and tracking the progress.