What Is Normal Dog Temperature?

normal dog temperature

As a dog owner, it’s important to monitor your dog’s health and one way to do that is to keep an eye your dog’s temperature. Normal dog temperature can be an indicator of good health … and a higher temperature is a warning that there could be a problem.

What Is A Dog’s Normal Body Temperature?

A dog’s average body temperature ranges between 99.5°F and 102.5°F (37.5°C and 39.2°C). Individual dogs may have slight variations in their baseline temperature, so it’s good to know your dog’s normal range.

What Is The Normal Dog Temperature For An Older Dog?

As dogs age, their bodies undergo certain changes, which can affect their normal temperature range. Older dogs may have a slightly lower body temperature than younger dogs. Generally, a temperature within the range of 99°F to 101.5°F (37.2°C to 38.6°C) is considered normal for an older dog. If you start monitoring your dog’s temperature when he’s younger, you’ll be able to tell how it adjusts as he gets older.

What Is The Normal Dog Temperature For A Puppy?

Puppies have their own unique temperature range. Because their bodies are still developing, puppies tend to have slightly higher body temperatures than adult dogs. A normal temperature for a puppy falls between 100°F and 102.5°F (37.8°C and 39.2°C). 

RELATED: When do dogs stop growing?

Now that you know what to look for … how do you take your dog’s temperature?

How To Take A Dog’s Temperature

Taking a dog’s temperature is an important skill to learn … whether for emergencies when your dog is ill, or to monitor your dog’s health.  First, let’s look at the types of thermometers available.

Thermometers For Dogs

It’s important to choose a thermometer that’s suited to your dog’s anatomy. There are thermometers specifically for dogs, but you can use one made for humans too (and they’re usually cheaper). Don’t ever use a glass thermometer in your dog’s mouth like the image above! Here are some features to look for:

  • Digital Display: A digital display makes it easy to read and interpret the temperature accurately.
  • Quick Measurement: These are designed to provide fast temperature readings, typically within seconds, so your dog doesn’t have to hold still for too long. 
  • Flexible Probe: The probe of a rectal thermometer is often flexible so it’s safer to insert and prevents accidental injury to the dog.
  • Lubrication Compatibility: Pet rectal thermometers can often be lubricated to reduce discomfort for your dog.
  • Memory Function: Some thermometers have a memory function so you can recall the previous temperature readings to track changes.
  • Protective Covers: This ensures hygiene and prevents cross-contamination. Covers may be disposable or washable. Disposable covers are cheap and easy to throw away when you’re done. 
  • Species-Specific Calibration: Some pet thermometers are calibrated for different species and account for differences in temperature ranges between species. It’s a good choice if you have a cat and a dog.

3 Ways To Take Your Dog’s Temperature

There are 3 ways to take your dog’s temperature … but only one of them is recommended.

1. Rectal Method: This is the best method and it provides the most accurate reading. Lubricate a digital rectal thermometer for pets, or place a cover on it. Gently lift the dog’s tail and insert the thermometer about one inch into the rectum. Hold it in place for about a minute or until it beeps. Clean the thermometer thoroughly afterward, or throw away the disposable cover.

2. Ear Method: This method is less accurate and vets don’t usually recommend it. If you do use this, buy an ear thermometer designed for dogs, and gently insert the thermometer into your dog’s ear canal to obtain a reading. 

3. Forehead Method: Some people ask about forehead thermometers for dogs. You can use an infrared thermometer to take your dog’s temperature, either in the ear, the armpit or on the belly, but most vets don’t recommend them as they are much less accurate. 

7 Reasons A Dog’s Normal Temperature Will Rise

While a dog’s normal temperature range is relatively stable, there are a few things that can cause it to rise. It’s important to be aware of these changes, as they may indicate an underlying health issue. 

Here are 7 reasons a dog’s temperature may rise:

  1. Exercise Or Excitement: Dogs get warm during periods of increased physical activity, play or excitement.
  2. Hot Weather: Dogs can struggle to regulate their body temperature in hot environments, and this leads to an increase in temperature, or even heat stroke.
  3. Infection Or Inflammation: Temperature is the body’s way of managing a problem .. so it’s often a sign your dog is fighting illness, infection or an inflammatory condition.
  4. Stress Or Anxiety: Your dog may have a higher body temperature when he’s stressed or anxious.
  5. Medications: Some medications can cause a temporary increase in body temperature as a side effect.
  6. Hormonal Changes: Female dogs in heat or dogs experiencing hormonal imbalances may have fluctuations in their body temperature.
  7. Serious illness: Fever can also be a sign of a serious disease like autoimmune disease or cancer.

What is The Temperature Range For A Sick Dog?

When your dog is sick, his body temperature can change from the normal range. Monitoring his temperature is essential to identify potential health concerns. If your dog’s temperature exceeds 103.5°F (39.7°C), it’s elevated and may indicate illness. Temperatures above 105°F (40.6°C) are considered high and require immediate medical attention.

Signs Of Fever In Dogs

If your dog’s temperature rises outside the normal range due to illness, you might see other symptoms. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Reduced activity level
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea from gastrointestinal issues
  • Changes in behavior such as restlessness, irritability or aggression.

How Long Can A Dog’s Temperature Be High?

Remember that dogs can have temporary temperature spikes due to environmental factors, exercise, or excitement. These situations reset on their own. But if your dog’s temperature remains consistently high, it could mean a potential health concern and should be taken seriously. This is especially true if you notice any other symptoms.

Generally, if your dog’s temperature remains above 103.5°F (39.7°C) for more than 24 hours or is persistently high above 105°F (40.6°C), your dog needs prompt medical care. 

Take your dog to the vet if he has prolonged high temperatures, or other symptoms such as those listed above.

RELATED: Staph infection in dogs …

Natural Ways to Treat A Dog With A High Temperature

If your dog’s temperature is elevated, it’s usually a sign of an underlying health problem like an infection. So your main goal is to identify the cause of the fever. This is especially true in natural medicines like homeopathy … but a conventional vet should also try to identify what’s driving your dog’s temperature up.

The Natural Approach To Fever
If you work with a homeopathic or other holistic vet, contact her for advice. Homeopaths and other holistic practitioners view fever as your dog’s immune response showing the body is trying to heal itself … not as a standalone medical problem. Your homeopathic or holistic vet’s goal will be to support the body in its own healing process, rather than giving medications that suppress the fever but may not manage the root cause.  

The Merck Veterinary Manual says “In true fever, the high body temperature is being regulated by the body, so cooling methods such as water baths work against the body’s own regulatory mechanisms. It is also likely that fever itself has some beneficial effects, particularly in infectious diseases.”

So you may want to talk to your vet before trying to lower your dog’s temperature. If your vet agrees, here’s what you can do to keep your dog more comfortable when he has a fever. 

  • Provide a cool environment. Ensure your dog has access to a cool, well-ventilated space with plenty of fresh water.
  • Offer cool water and ice cubes. Encourage your dog to drink cool water or even chew on ice chips to help lower his body temperature. Feed him bone broth to encourage him to drink.
  • Use damp towels or cooling mats. Have your dog lie on these to provide additional relief from the heat.
  • Avoid excessive physical activity. Limit your dog’s exercise and playtime to prevent further increases in body temperature.

RELATED: Why do dogs pant?

It’s important to understand your dog’s normal body temperature and how healthy temperature ranges are directly related to his ongoing health .. and now you’ve got one more way to keep track of your dog’s wellbeing.

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