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Contactless Fever Measurement – Unreliable in Dog & Cats

Although routinely used in human medicine, the non-contact measurement of body temperature in small animals is not yet a widespread method. A current study investigated whether this could be reliable and perhaps even advantageous.

A team of researchers from England and Italy set out to test the correlation between the infrared surface temperature on the inside of the ear and rectal temperature. The latter is considered to be a meaningful derivation of core body temperature. However, rectal temperature measurement through contact always means a certain amount of stress for the small animal and may not be feasible in uncooperative patients. Given this, a contactless measuring method would be desirable. In human medicine, such a measurement by infrared has been established for a long time and was used particularly widely in the context of the COVID pandemic. It has not yet been possible to show whether the method can deliver reliable results for small animals.

Surface and rectal temperatures are far apart

In pursuit of this, the scientists documented the surface temperature on the inside of the pinna and the rectal temperature of more than 160 dogs and more than 60 cats. The animals came to the clinic for a variety of reasons. Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, the data analysis did not show any stable, statistically significant correlation between the two measured body temperature parameters. The values ​​in the cat tended to be further apart than in the dog.

There are many possible obstacles

From their results, the study authors conclude that contactless fever measurement in dogs and cats is not a reliable alternative to measuring rectal temperature. They consider it possible that this is due to the chosen body part, skin pigmentation, or other influencing factors. Further studies would have to show whether measurements in the oral cavity or other localizations of the body surface would lead to different results. Until then, it is recommended that small animal practitioners take care to take the rectal temperature as gently as possible and rely on this value.

Frequently Asked Question

How do I find out if the cat has a fever?

You can often tell from the following symptoms before the temperature is measured whether the cat has developed a fever: dull general condition and tiredness. Tremors and reluctance to move. Possibly rapid breathing (typically 20 to 40 breaths per minute).

Do cats get hot ears when they have a fever?

Hot ears in cats are often a sign of a fever. Because cats use their ears to regulate their body temperature, they get hot when they have a fever. If you notice hot ears in your cat, you should check the temperature for a few minutes.

Is a fever of 40 degrees dangerous for cats?

The normal temperature in cats is between 38 and 39 degrees Celsius – if this temperature is elevated, this is of course the most important sign. However, there are individual differences, so it is advisable to measure your healthy cat’s body temperature from time to time.

Do cats have warm noses?

The Symptoms – Recognizing a cat cold

A healthy cat has a cool nose and the ear cups are only lukewarm. If the nose is glowing and the ears are noticeably warm, the velvet paw should be presented to a vet as soon as possible.

How can you tell if a dog has a fever?

How do you recognize a fever in a dog? Fever in dogs is primarily characterized by an elevated core body temperature (values over 39.0°C). Other signs include fatigue, loss of appetite, and increased breathing and heart rate.

When does a dog have a fever?

Before measuring the dog’s temperature, it is important to know: When does a dog have a fever? The normal values for adult dogs are 38.0 to 39.0 °C. Puppies tend to have a slightly higher core body temperature of up to 39.5 °C.

Does a dog have cold or warm ears?

Dogs usually have pleasantly warm ears. However, since many blood vessels run through the ears, the temperatures fluctuate between extremely cold and very hot – strong temperature differences can therefore be an indication of the dog’s state of health, among other things.

What if the dog’s nose is warm?

Because a dry, warm dog nose, as the saying goes, is a sign that something is wrong with your dog. A wet dog nose, on the other hand, is essential for the more than 200 million olfactory receptors of four-legged friends. A dry nose does not necessarily mean that your dog is sick.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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