What’s A Dog's Normal Body Temperature?

It's hotter than you think 🥵

dog with hot water bottle and thermometer

When you’re walking your dog in the summer heat or frigid winter, you’ll want to make sure he stays at a comfortable temperature. But what’s a normal temperature for dogs?

We reached out to Dr. Alex Schechter, a veterinarian and founder of Burrwood Veterinary Hospital in Detroit, to find out a normal dog temperature, plus how to take your pup’s temp.

What is a normal dog temperature?

According to Dr. Schechter, “the average body temperature for a dog ranges between [approximately] 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Too hot

If your dog’s temperature gets higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit, that means he’s too hot and could have a fever or be at risk for heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs include:

If you notice your dog showing any of these symptoms, take him to the vet ASAP because heatstroke can become fatal.

“If your dog has signs such as lethargy, lack of energy, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, green nasal discharge, etc., [these] are a few signs of fever,” Dr. Schechter told The Dodo. “Besides lethargy and weakness, other signs depend on the cause of temperature increase or where the infection is.”

In addition to other symptoms of illness, like vomiting or diarrhea, the most common signs that your dog has a fever are:

  • Warm, dry nose
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Warm ears
  • Shivering

Too cold

If your dog’s temperature drops too much (to around 98 or 99 degrees Fahrenheit), he can develop hypothermia, which happens when an animal’s body temperature drops dangerously low. Hypothermia is an extremely dangerous condition, and it’s a medical emergency.

Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Being cold to the touch, especially ears, nose and paws
  • Shivering
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Slow breathing
  • Confusion

How to check your dog's temperature

According to Dr. Schechter, you can use a pet thermometer to check that your pup has a normal temperature.

(You can technically use a human thermometer to take your dog’s temperature, but it’s best to buy a dog-specific one for sanitary reasons!)

There are few different types of pet thermometers: rectal, ear and non-contact thermometers. Rectal thermometers are the most accurate, but if those make your dog freak out, you can use one of the other types. An ear thermometer is the next-best option, since a non-contact one will only take your dog’s external temperature.

When using a non-contact thermometer, all you have to do is aim it at your dog’s belly or ear. For rectal and ear thermometers, the process is a little more involved.

To use a rectal pet thermometer, follow these steps

  • Have your dog lie down so he can’t easily move away, or have someone help you keep him still. Use treats to keep your dog focused if needed.
  • Coat the thermometer with pet-safe petroleum jelly.
  • Insert the thermometer only about 1–3 inches. If your dog’s muscles tighten, don’t try to force the thermometer in, because you could injure him.
  • Leave the thermometer in place for the amount of time needed.
  • Be sure to thoroughly clean the thermometer when you’re finished.

To use an ear pet thermometer, follow these steps

  • Hold your dog’s head still.
  • Insert the thermometer into your dog’s ear while holding the base of his ear.
  • Leave the thermometer in place for the amount of time needed.

What to do if your dog's temperature is too hot or too cold

“If your dog's body temperature is too hot or too cold, visiting a nearby vet clinic or consulting a veterinarian is the best option,” Dr. Schechter said. “Vets perform a complete physical examination to identify the underlying cause of your dog's change in body temperature and accordingly can suggest appropriate treatment.”

There are also some steps you can take to cool your pup down or heat him up before you get to the vet. To cool your dog, give him water to drink, put cool (not freezing-cold) water on his body and use a fan on him. Check his temperature while you’re doing this to make sure it doesn’t drop too much. For dogs who are too cold, try wrapping them in a blanket or towel and dry their fur if it’s wet. And if you’re outside in the heat or cold, get your pup inside ASAP.

Knowing the normal temperature for dogs is important so you’ll know when it’s time to take your pup to the vet and so you can keep him safe and healthy.

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