What Is a Normal Dog Temperature?
Being a pet parent can be hard, especially when it comes to dealing with illnesses. One of the major signs of illness in both animals and humans is a fever—but how can you tell if your dog has a fever? What is a normal dog temperature? How do you even take your dog’s temp?
In fact, knowing that your dog has a fever and taking their temperature is not difficult or complicated. It’s actually a simple process that can quickly tell you how your dog is doing and determine whether you should visit a vet anytime soon.
A Normal Dog Temperature
If you notice that your dog’s temperature is higher than yours, don’t panic! While a human temperature usually ranges between 97.6º and 99.6º Fahrenheit, a dog’s temperature usually runs from 101º to 102.5º degrees Fahrenheit, and only sometimes as low as 99.5º.
How To Check for a Fever In My Dog
You may have heard from your parents and grandparents that the best way to check for a fever in a dog is by touching their nose. Traditional wisdom states that a cold, wet nose means a healthy dog while a hot, dry nose means a dog with a fever.
While this is a fine test to use, it may not be the best option for truly understanding your dog’s health. In addition, this method of testing can’t tell you what temperature your dog’s fever is at, which could be important for helping you decide whether you need to visit the vet.
The best way to check your dog’s temperature is by using a thermometer. The most traditional and likely most accurate thermometer for dogs is a rectal thermometer. However, these days you can also find an ear thermometer or an instant non-contact thermometer.
Steps To Taking a Dog’s Temperature
Depending on which type of thermometer you use, you’ll have to take different steps. For an instant non-contact thermometer, you’ll want to read the instructions provided but will likely just need to hold the thermometer within an inch of the belly or inner ear to get a reading.
If you use a rectal thermometer:
- Clean the thermometer with warm water and soap, then rinse and dry with a clean towel.
- Lubricate the end of the thermometer with baby oil, petroleum jelly, or another water-soluble lubricant.
- Hold your dog’s tail up and off to the side while you insert the thermometer into their rectum (if possible, get someone to help you hold your dog still and upright).
- Carefully remove the thermometer and read the temperature registered.
If you use an ear thermometer, you’ll need to place it within your dog’s ear to get a temperature reading from the infrared heat waves emitted from the eardrum. This thermometer will come with instructions, but you’ll generally just need to insert it into the ear canal for a few seconds until it registers a reading.
Symptoms that Indicate Fever In Dogs
Before you take your dog’s temperature, you want to be sure there is something wrong with them that could be causing a fever. Common symptoms that often indicate a fever in dogs include:
- Red or glassy eyes
- Decreased energy
- Loss of appetite
- Runny nose
- Warm ears
- Warm and dry nose
In addition to the above signs, dogs may suffer from severe diarrhea or other dog poop problems, which could be an indication of a serious internal infection that needs treatment right away. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, try to take their temperature as soon as possible to ensure you get them to the vet if necessary.
Causes of Fevers In Dogs
Just as in humans, a fever in a dog can be a sign of a variety of illnesses or maladies that the dog’s body is fighting. Some common causes of fevers in dogs include:
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Fungal infections
- Ear infections
- Infected wounds
- Tooth infections or abscesses
- Urinary tract infections
- Ingestion of toxic plants, toxic foods, or other items such as antifreeze or human medications
Occasionally, a vet may be unable to immediately diagnose the cause of your dog’s fever, in which case they will call it a fever of unknown origin or FUO. Often, an FUO occurs when your dog is suffering from an immune disorder, cancer, or bone marrow issue.
What To Do if Your Dog Has a Fever
If your dog’s fever is higher than 103º Fahrenheit, you should take them to the vet. If the fever reaches 106º, it could damage your pet’s internal organs and cause eventual death, so don’t hesitate to get your dog treatment for a high fever!
If your dog’s fever is lower and they don’t seem too uncomfortable, you can take measures to help reduce the fever at home. Try to coax your dog to drink water, if possible. Apply cool water around their ears and paws using a wet towel or something similar. You can also run a fan nearby to help them cool down.
Continue to monitor your dog’s temperature until it sinks below 103º. At that point, you can stop applying the water and let your dog rest until they’re feeling better. If the fever returns or your dog exhibits more symptoms, though, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet!
Keep Your Dog Healthy
Keeping your dog healthy is sure to be one of your highest priorities! There are a few simple things you can do to help your dog stay as healthy as possible:
- Feed your dog healthy food.
- Take them out for regular exercise.
- Keep them updated on their vaccinations.
- Clean up their dog poop.
- Keep them away from trash, toxic human foods, toxic plants, etc.
If you can follow these steps, you should be able to enjoy many happy and healthy years with your precious pet!