What is the Normal Temperature for a Dog?
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Knowing the physical well-being of your dog is a responsibility of dog guardianship. When we adopt them into our care, we take up this responsibility. As we invite them into our world, we have to keep them protected within it. By answering ‘what is the normal temperature for a dog?’, we are able to know a key indicator of their overall health. If their temperature is not in the normal range, then it is a sign there is something wrong.
At AnimalWised we not only explain more about the vital signs of dogs, but we show you how to correctly take a dog's temperature. By tracking the changes in a dog's body temperature, we can better know how to detect any problems which might be present.
What is the normal temperature of a dog?
A dog's body temperature should be in the range between 37.8 ºC and 39.2 ºC (100.04 ºF and 102.56 ºF). If you measure your dog's temperature and it falls in between this range, it is considered normal. This doesn't mean there is not another medical issue with your dog. It is important to note there are various pathologies or health problems which will not affect your dog's temperature reading.
The average normal temperature of a large adult dog is 38.5 ºC (101.3 ºF). We specify it is an adult dog because younger canines will read differently due to their continued development. Newborn puppies are not yet able to control their body temperature. This is why it is so vital their mother keeps them in a quiet nest so she can help keep them safe with her body heat. The normal temperature of a newborn puppy is between 34.4 ºC and 36.1 ºC (93.9 ºF and 96.98 ºF). By the age of 4 weeks, this will reach an average of 37.8 ºC (100.04 ºF).
High temperature in dogs
If we take our dog's temperature and the thermometer exceeds the normal temperature of a dog, we can say the animal has hyperthermia or fever. There are many causes which can cause fever in dogs, including infections or inflammatory diseases. The different accompanying symptoms will help achieve a diagnosis as to why. We need to take the dog for a veterinary consultation, especially if our dog is a puppy, in old age or has some underlying disease or health problem. They are generally more vulnerable and prompt intervention can give them better chances.
Another reason a dog's body temperature is too high might be related to heat stroke. This is a situation which occurs when a dog is subjected to temperatures which are too high. For example, locking a dog in a car on a hot day is a common reason for heat stroke. Symptoms such as respiratory difficulties, thickened saliva, redness in their mucus membranes and others might present also. When the dog's body temperature exceeds 41.5 ºC (106.7 ºF), there is a risk of permanent damage to the dog's vital organs and even death.
Low temperature in dogs
Although hyperthermia is more common (depending on where the dog lives), sometimes a dog's body temperature can drop lower than the normal range. This is known as hypothermia and it is a very serious condition. It endangers the life of the dog.
A very low temperature can occur when a dog has a serious infection, suffers an internal hemorrhage, is coming out of a general anaesthetic or for other reasons. The veterinarian will try to stabilize it. If they are unable to do so, the dog's heart rate and other bodily functions can slow down and the dog will die.
How to take a dog's temperature
Now that we know what is the normal body temperature of a dog, we can learn how to take it. For this, we need to use a digital thermometer. It is best to use one which is specially for dogs. As the temperature of a dog needs to be taken rectally, it is best not to use one you use for the rest of the family. To ensure the thermometer is inserted without problem, you can lubricate the end with a little Vaseline. Then, we need to follow these steps:
- Keep the dog standing up and lift their tail. If it sits down, the thermometer can break or cause further discomfort. This is another reason not to use a mercury thermometer. If it is difficult to keep the dog still, it is best to ask someone else to assist us in restraining them. This will also help to prevent the dog from running away and also to help keep them calm and reassured. Place your other hand on the dog's abdomen to keep them safe.
- Introduce the thermometer gently. Tilt the end of the thermometer gently so that it presses against the rectum of the dog. If we do not do this, we might get an inaccurate reading. If you are taking the temperature of a puppy, you will need a specialized thermometer which may only be available via a veterinarian.
Depending on the quality of the digital thermometer, we can wait a short time for the correct reading. Afterwards, it must be removed, cleaned and disinfected for future use. If we do not do this, it can result in the transmission of diseases. The thermometer breaking is unlikely, but if the worst were to happen, it is necessary to go to the veterinarian for its removal.
My dog's temperature is 37.7 ºC, is it normal?
We have seen that the normal temperature of a dog ranges between 37.8 ºC and 39.2 ºC (100.04 ºF and 102.56 ºF). A slight variation, such as 37.7 ºC or 39.3 ºF (99.86 ºF or 102.74 ºF), should not be a cause for concern in principle. The only worry would be if the animal showed other symptoms. If we have any doubt about the welfare of our dog we should take the temperature again after a few hours. This way we can monitor the evolution of any temperature change and, if necessary, go to the veterinarian.
To see how the professionals take a dog's temperature, take a look at our video below:
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
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