Today we are here to talk about how to check a dogs temperature, what their normal body temperature is, and what some of the causes are too.

Just like humans, dogs can get sick. It is a normal thing no doubt. All animals can get sick just like any one of us. However, unlike us humans, dogs don’t have the ability to tell us when they are sick, they can’t check themselves, and they definitely can’t treat themselves either.

This means that keeping your dog healthy and checking for illness is up to you the owner. Your dog is your best friend and we want you two to live in harmony for as long as can be. So, let’s talk about your dog’s temperature, what to look out for and how to handle it.

We have also covered a post on checking a dogs heart rate, which you can find here.

What Is A Dog’s Normal Temperature?

A dog’s normal body temperature is actually not much different from our very own. A dog’s normal body temperature should be anywhere in between 99 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit, which translates to between 37.2 and 39.5 degrees Celsius (roughly).

If your dog’s body temperature falls below this, then it is considered to be hypothermic and will exhibit symptoms such as shivering, stiffness, and lethargy. If your dog’s temperature rises above this, then it is considered to be hyperthermic and will exhibit symptoms such as excessive panting, red gums, lethargy, and will be physically warm when you touch them.

Do keep in mind that just like humans, a slight fever in a dog is not an immediate call for concern. They can get colds and flus too, which will of course cause fever but are usually not too severe. If the fever persists for more than two days, then it might be time to call a vet.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has A Fever?

Ok, so the obvious way to tell if your dog has a fever is by using a thermometer to measure their temperature. However, there are also some other telltale signs that your dog is overheating.

These signs include:

  • Not eating.
  • Depression.
  • Fast breathing.
  • Little bodily fluids.
  • Lack of urination.
  • Shivering.
  • Lethargy.
  • A fast heart rate.
  • Coughing.
  • Vomiting.
  • Excessive nasal discharge.

Do keep in mind that many, or even all of these symptoms can be exhibited due to a variety of illnesses, so this is not really a surefire way of telling that your dog has a fever. The best way to tell if your dog has a fever is by using a thermometer. On a side note, it may seem weird to you that your dog might shiver if it is too hot, but think of this way. When you have a fever, you may be hot, but actually feel cold, thus your body will shiver as a natural reaction. It is nothing more than an illness causing your senses to not function properly, just like with a dog.

How To Check A Dog’s Temperature With A Thermometer?

Unfortunately there is no easy or pleasant way of checking your dog’s temperature with a thermometer. They are not like humans in the sense that the mouth and the ear are not viable points of entry for a thermometer. A dog’s ears have some pretty crazy canals, which makes it hard to get an accurate reading from the ears. The heat dissipates too quickly on the way out, plus there might be ear wax (we have covered a post on cleaning here), fur, and debris which can obstruct the thermometer and get in the way of a good reading.

Also, since dogs sweat through their mouths by breathing out hot air, their mouths are generally much hotter than their bodies and therefore the mouth is not a good way to get a thermometer reading. The only way to get an accurate reading is through that really unpleasant way that nobody wants to think about. Yes, we are talking about the butt, the anal cavity. The only way to check your dog’s temperature and get an accurate reading is by inserting the thermometer into the anal cavity.

You are definitely going to want to use a durable medical grade digital thermometer to get this done. You do not want to use an old school mercury filled thermometer, because worst comes to worst and your dog’s behind is going to be filled with shards of glass and mercury, both of which can and probably will kill the poor animal. Using your medical grade thermometer, lube up the business end with some petroleum jelly or other lubricant.

You need to have someone holding the dog’s head, and preferably another person holding the body. Make no mistake about it, your dog is not going to willingly let you inset a thermometer into its backside. Hey, no one likes it! Insert thermometer about 1.5 inches into the rectum (depending on the dog’s size) and hold it in there for around a minute or until the thermometer beeps, signaling that it is done. If your dog’s temperature exceeds the aforementioned 103 degrees Fahrenheit, you might have a problem.

What Causes High Temperature In Dogs?

This is a pretty difficult question to answer because there are many things that can cause a fever in a dog. The problem is that different causes will have different symptoms besides the fever, but your dog can’t tell you, so it is kind of a guessing game. To be honest, the best thing to do is to go to a vet because you will probably not be able to identify the cause.

Some of the things that can cause a fever in a dog include:

  • Vaccinations can cause a fever in dogs which can last for up to 48 hours. This is usually nothing to worry about.
  • Dogs can get colds and flus just like we do.
  • Your dog may have some kind of infection, which can come in various forms and severities. It will be nearly impossible for you to diagnose an infection, let alone a specific infection.
  • Unfortunately there are some horrible people out there which decide to poison dogs. Poisons can defintiely cause fevers and usually much worse things too. If your dog has excessive diarrhea, is vomiting, and has a fever, it may be poisoned. If this is the case, bring your dog to the vet immediately.

Whatever the case may be, since dogs can’t communicate, diagnosing the cause is very difficult if you are not a vet. Even vets have to guess at this kind of thing more often than you might think.

Not Sure? Go To The Vet!

If your dog has a fever that last for more than 24 hours, 48 at the very most, then just take it to the vet. There is no point in letting your dog suffer and potentially die just because you are unsure. You go to the doctor when you are sick, so take your dog to the vet when it is sick.

You can do things to alleviate their fever, such as using cold compresses, giving them cold water, keeping them in a cold space, or even give them some aspirin intended for dogs (never use human aspirin). However, at the end of the day, if you are not sure, just take your dog to the vet.


Remember, dogs can’t look out for themselves and they didn’t choose to be in your home. So, if you notice that they aren’t acting right, they may have a fever. Whatever the case may be, it is up to you to take care of your pet!