A Canine Temperature

A normal canine temperature varies per individual. Here's the guideline for a normal dog temperature, how to take it and when a dog fever is a call to action.

A good idea is to take your dog's temperature a few times when she is well. My reasoning for this?

A "normal" human temperature is 98.6 degrees F right? Not mine. My normal temperature is 97.8 and has been since I was a kid.

That means if my temperature is 99 or 100, I don't feel well while someone who is 98.6 on average would feel perfectly normal.

It also means I've become delirious with a fever of 102 (how embarrassing)

See where I'm going with this? Okay, let's look at our dogs.

A normal canine temperature is 101 F. So a range of 100.5 to 102.5 is normal.

How to Take a Dogs Temperature

If you have a fancy digital thermometer, you can put it in your dog's ear for a reading. You should get a reading between 100 and 103 F for the ear. If you do things the old fashioned way like I do and want an accurate reading, you must go rectally...

Normally you put a little petroleum jelly or olive oil on the dog thermometer so it glides right into the anus. You can have the dog lying down or standing up, whichever is most comfortable.

The most important success factor when taking a canine temperature could be you. Stay relaxed. Of course your dog doesn't want an object in her bum-bum, but you need to do it.

If one of my dogs is not feeling 100% cooperative, I have them lay down. For a distraction I might hold a favorite toy or a piece of meat in my mouth. Silly but effective.

Motivation is really important when the dog is big and stronger than I am.

My dogs are food oriented and will do anything for a tidbit. I put one hand near their chest while the other zips that thermometer right where it needs to go. I say nice things or rub and scratch until the time is up.

They get the treat, I get the temperature. It's a win-win situation.

Notes: Keep your hand on or near the thermometer to make sure it doesn't fall out, or worse, get drawn inside your dog. I think it's a rare occurrence but it actually happened to a family cat at the vet's office!

Be sure the tip of the thermometer is all the way inside for an accurate reading.

When a High Canine Temperature
Can Be Mistaken

A Normal Dog Temperature Can Vary as much as 2 degrees at these times:

  • after exercise
  • after eating
  • after barking

And a dog temperature can be lower:

  • for a puppy
  • for a senior dog

Once you know the normal temperature for your dog, you can tell more easily when he is sick and it helps if a phone consultation is needed with your vet's office or it's time to get out the Silver Shield.

If you'd like to know why dogs get a fever and what you can do at home, please read Fever In Dogs.

If your dog won't eat, don't panic. There is a natural reason for this and it's a good thing. Don't ever push food, but do push liquids. To understand why, read Fasting for Health. (Hint: we heal faster when NOT digesting)

And if you worry about your dog not getting enough liquids when she's not feeling well, read Dog Dehydration  which tells you how to test for dehydration and how to rehydrate without an IV at the vet's office.

Fever in Dogs After Vaccination

While its fairly common for dogs to run a fever after a vaccine, please keep an eye on your pup.

The more research I read, the more I believe we over vaccinate our dogs so much, we are creating illness and disease.

Please read about vaccinations . To give you just a little push, after 40 years of research on vaccines, the new motto is "One and Done!" so find out which vaccines work and the optimal time to give them because it could save your dog's life.

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