Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans. So even though they may seem hot to us, their body temperature may be within normal range. However, knowing how to take a dog’s temperature can help us understand and assess the severity of other symptoms.
What is the normal temperature of the dog?
The normal temperature of the dog is around 38°C. Normally, between 37.5°C and 38.9°C is considered within normal limits; a higher temperature could be considered fever.
The temperature of dogs is very changeable and depends on their size and age.
Usually a large size adult dog’s temperature is 38.5°C, even though newborn puppy’s temperature will be between 34.4°C and 36.1°C and in four weeks it will reach an average of 37. 8°C.
Considering the diversity of temperatures, it is very important that before giving excessive importance to your dog’s temperature, you take into account the other symptoms that may more clearly indicate discomfort.
In fact, if you notice that your dog’s temperature is higher than normal, the causes could be one of the following: infections, inflammatory diseases or even heat stroke. Take it to the vet, especially if the dog is still a puppy, is an elderly dog or already has a previous problem; it is the most responsible choice in case you need an immediate response.
Another reason why a dog’s body temperature may be too high is a heat stroke. These can happen when a dog is exposed to excessively high temperatures, such as inside a car on a summer day. When the dog’s temperature exceeds 41.5°C, there is a risk of permanent damage to vital organs and even death. If your dog’s body temperature rises due to heat, we must react quickly to cool his body.
Low temperature in dogs: hypothermia also exists!
Although hyperthermia is usually a cause for concern, sometimes a dog’s body temperature can drop below normal limits. This is called hypothermia and is a very serious condition.
A very low temperature can be caused by a serious infection, internal bleeding, after general anaesthesia, or for other reasons. Also in this case, an urgent visit to the vet, who will try to stabilize the dog, could save its life.
What are the symptoms that tell us that our dog has a fever?
Here are some of the signs:
- Weakness and lethargy
- Gasping breath
- Loss of appetite
But of course the only way to make sure is to take our pet’s temperature.
How to take a dog’s body temperature
Here are some steps to follow to take your dog’s temperature.
First of all, it is preferable to take the temperature away from meals, better in the morning when the temperature is lower and using a digital thermometer. In stores we can buy specific thermometers that measure one degree more compared to those intended for humans.
The thermometer must be lubricated with a gel suitable for use.
If the dog is a large size, it is better to ask another person to help us and have it still by holding it from the front part of the body.
Insert the thermometer slowly into the rectum, taking care to push it gently up to about 2 cm. Keep the thermometer in position until the acoustic signal is emitted, remove it and read the temperature.
Another option is to buy a non-contact infrared thermometer: it is a product that allows you to take the temperature of the dog in the lower part of the belly at a distance of 3cm.
As an alternative, we can also find the ear thermometer that allows us to measure the dog’s fever by placing it for a few seconds on the inside of our pet’s ear.
What causes fever in dogs?
There are many health problems that can cause hyperthermia in dogs: bacterial or viral infections such as canine flu, distemper or leptospirosis, urinary tract infection or tick-borne diseases.
Also the accidental ingestion of toxins such as antifreeze liquid, poisons, medicines for humans, etc. can cause a sudden rise in temperature.
We also must take in account that sometimes, after a vaccination, dogs can develop a fever that will go away in a day or two.
Regardless, if your dog’s fever doesn’t go down in a couple of days, it might be wise to consider a visit to the vet.
But what can we do if the dog has a fever and we cannot take him to the vet immediately?
It is important, as we have mentioned before, to identify the symptoms that accompany the fever and to remember possible accidental events that have occur.
To help lower the temperature and give our furry friend some relief, we can spray a little tap water on the face, neck, legs and groin.
You can also try placing a cold towel on these areas. When the compresses get hot, they might be changed for cold ones and so on for a maximum of 15 minutes.
The risk of dehydration for a dog with fever and lethargy is high; therefore, it is advisable to ensure that the dog drinks enough water.
*We would like to clarify that this article is purely informative. Yuup! has no authority to prescribe veterinary treatments or make diagnoses. For this reason, we invite you to take your pet to the vet if you notice any discomfort in it.
Article written with the scientific supervision of Md. Ilija Markovic
from Clinica Veterinaria San Leopoldo