Your dog's temperature can let you know if your pet is feeling under the weather. Just like with humans, a dog can have a low or high temperature depending on the illness. Learning how to take your dog's temperature at home is important as you will immediately know if your canine companion needs veterinary care or simple home care.
According to WebMD, a dog's normal rectal temperature ranges from 101 to 102 degrees. A dog with a rectal temperature above 103 degrees has a fever. A fever above 106 degrees can turn into a life-threatening situation.
A low body temperature is characterized as hypothermia if your dog's temperature is 90 degrees or below. PetMD explains that mild hypothermia ranges from 90 to 99 degrees while moderate cases are classified from 82 to 90 degrees. A dog is diagnosed with severe hypothermia when the rectal temperature reads less than 82 degrees.
There are various symptoms that your dog may exhibit if he or she has a low temperature. One of the more common causes of hypothermia is exposing your dog to extremely cold temperatures. PetMD lists some of the symptoms of hypothermia in dogs including stiff muscles, weakness and shivering.
An elevated temperature in dogs can be caused by infection, inflammation or excessive exercise. WebMD describes a high temperature in dogs as hyperthermia or heat stroke. Symptoms of hyperthermia in dogs include some of the same symptoms of hypothermia including shivering and lethargy. Other signs can include vomiting, coughing and appetite loss.
Taking a dog's temperature
Taking a dog's temperature by feeling his nose is not an accurate way to tell if your dog has a fever. To get an accurate temperature you need a rectal reading using either a digital or mercury thermometer. Pet Place contributor Dr. Dawn Ruben states that "ear thermometers can also be used in dogs." The key to getting an accurate temperature is getting an internal temperature.
To begin, lubricate the end of the thermometer with a lubricant such as petroleum jelly and insert the thermometer slowly into the rectum. For some dogs, this procedure may require two people-one to hold the dog and one to insert the thermometer. Dr. Ruben recommends inserting the thermometer about an inch into the rectum and hold in place for two minutes for a mercury thermometer. Digital thermometers are programmed to make a sound when they have a reading.
A dog's average temperature is a bit different when using an ear thermometer. A normal temperature will range from 100 to 103 degrees when checking the ears for a fever. Ear thermometers designed specifically for cats and dogs are available; however, when using a standard ear thermometer, Dr. Rubin emphasizes the importance of placing "the thermometer deep into the horizontal ear canal to obtain an accurate reading." Finally she expresses that if your dog's temperature is below 99 degrees or above 104, seek immediate veterinary care for your pet.