How to Take a Dog's Temperature

By Cindy Quarters


Taking your dog’s temperature can be a vital step in determining the status of the dog's overall health. A high temperature can indicate a fever or heat stroke, while a low temperature may be a sign of shock. If you call your veterinarian with questions about your dog, often the first question the vet will ask, to help her in assessing the animal's condition, is what is your pet’s temperature. While people often feel uncomfortable with the process of taking a dog's temperature at first, the task is a quick procedure that is easy to learn.

Step 1

Wipe off the rectal thermometer with a cotton ball saturated in alcohol. This removes germs and contaminants, and ensures that the thermometer is clean and ready to use.

Step 2

Shake down a mercury thermometer until the mercury is below 96 degrees. This will allow you to get an accurate reading of your dog’s temperature. If you are using a digital thermometer, turn it on.

Step 3

Place a small dab of petroleum jelly on the end of the thermometer. This lubricates the tip and makes the thermometer easier to insert.

Step 4

Stand your pet on a solid surface where you are comfortable holding him. Large dogs do best on the floor, but you may want to have a small dog stand on a table or other raised surface to make it easier for you to work with him.

Step 5

Hold your dog loosely but securely to prevent him from moving away or sitting. In many cases you don’t need to grip the dog tightly; rather, you should steady the dog and be ready to hold him in place if he tries to move. This step is much easier if you have a second person available to hold your pet so that your hands are free to take the dog's temperature.

Step 6

Lift your dog’s tail and gently slide the lubricated thermometer into the dog's rectum. It may help to twist the thermometer slightly as you insert it. Slide it in about an inch and hold it in place until the temperature has time to register. Leave a mercury thermometer in for two minutes, or hold a digital thermometer in place until it beeps.

Step 7

Remove the thermometer, wipe it off and read the results. A normal reading is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If the dog's temperature is below 99 degrees or over 104 degrees, take him to a veterinarian immediately. If his temperature is just slightly outside of the normal range, call your veterinarian and ask for advice on how to proceed.

Step 1

Wipe off the tip of the ear thermometer with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol, or put a clean cover on it.

Step 2

Insert the tip of the thermometer into the dog’s ear canal. Keep the thermometer in the horizontal section, and don’t force the tip down into his ear.

Step 3

Wait for the thermometer to indicate that the reading is complete. Remove it and check your dog’s temperature. The ear reading should be between 100 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
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