What is the body temperature of dogs?

Introduction: Understanding Canine Body Temperature

As a dog owner, it is important to understand the normal range of body temperature for your furry friend. Body temperature is an essential indicator of your dog’s overall health, and changes in temperature can signal the presence of an underlying medical issue. Unlike humans, who have a normal body temperature of around 98.6°F (37°C), dogs have a slightly higher normal body temperature range.

Knowing your dog’s normal body temperature range and understanding the factors that can affect it can help you monitor your dog’s health and detect potential issues early on. In this article, we will explore the normal body temperature range for dogs, factors that can affect their temperature, and how to take your dog’s temperature.

Normal Body Temperature Range for Dogs

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 99.5°F to 102.5°F (37.5°C to 39.2°C). However, a temperature slightly above or below this range may still be normal for some dogs, depending on factors such as age, size, and breed. For example, puppies have a higher normal body temperature than adult dogs, while smaller breeds tend to have higher body temperatures than larger breeds.

It is important to establish your dog’s normal body temperature when they are healthy so that you can compare it to their temperature when they are sick. You can do this by taking your dog’s temperature when they are relaxed and comfortable, using a digital thermometer specifically designed for pets.

Factors Affecting a Dog’s Body Temperature

Several factors can affect a dog’s body temperature, including environmental conditions, activity levels, and emotional state. For example, dogs can experience heatstroke when exposed to high temperatures and humidity levels, which can cause their body temperature to rise dangerously high. Similarly, physical activity can cause a temporary increase in body temperature, while stress and anxiety can elevate body temperature over a longer period.

Certain medical conditions can also affect a dog’s body temperature, such as infections, inflammation, and metabolic disorders. In some cases, a dog’s body temperature may drop below normal due to shock, hypothermia, or other underlying medical issues.

Why Monitoring a Dog’s Body Temperature is Important

Monitoring your dog’s body temperature is an important part of maintaining their overall health and well-being. Changes in body temperature can signal the presence of an underlying medical issue, such as an infection, inflammation, or organ dysfunction. Detecting these issues early on can help you seek veterinary care promptly and prevent them from developing into more serious conditions.

In addition, monitoring your dog’s body temperature can help you assess their response to medical treatments or interventions. For example, if your dog has a fever and is prescribed medication, monitoring their temperature can help you determine if the treatment is effective or if further intervention is needed.

How to Take a Dog’s Temperature

Taking your dog’s temperature is a simple process that can be done at home with a digital thermometer specifically designed for pets. It is important to use a thermometer specifically designed for pets, as human thermometers may not be accurate for dogs.

To take your dog’s temperature, lubricate the thermometer with a water-based lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, and insert it into your dog’s rectum. Hold the thermometer in place for one to two minutes, or until it beeps, and then remove it. Be sure to clean the thermometer thoroughly with rubbing alcohol before and after use.

Symptoms of Fever in Dogs

Fever is a common symptom of many medical conditions in dogs, including infections, inflammation, and immune system disorders. Symptoms of fever in dogs may include lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst and urination. In some cases, dogs may also have a warm, dry nose and a rapid heart rate.

If you suspect that your dog has a fever, it is important to take their temperature and seek veterinary care if their temperature is above their normal range.

Causes of Elevated Body Temperature in Dogs

Elevated body temperature in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, inflammation, immune system disorders, and metabolic disorders. Some common causes of elevated body temperature in dogs include bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, such as kennel cough, parvovirus, or Lyme disease, inflammation, such as arthritis or allergies, and metabolic disorders, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes.

What to Do if Your Dog Has a Fever

If your dog has a fever, it is important to seek veterinary care promptly. Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests, such as blood work or imaging, to determine the underlying cause of the fever. Treatment may include medication, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as supportive care, such as fluids and rest.

In addition to seeking veterinary care, you can help manage your dog’s fever at home by providing a quiet, comfortable environment and encouraging rest. You may also want to offer your dog small amounts of water or a bland diet, such as boiled chicken and rice, to help support their recovery.

When to Seek Veterinary Care for Your Dog’s Temperature

If your dog’s temperature is above their normal range, it is important to seek veterinary care promptly. In addition, if your dog is showing other signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing, you should also seek veterinary care.

Certain factors may also increase the urgency of seeking veterinary care for your dog’s temperature, such as if their temperature is extremely high or if they are experiencing seizures, difficulty breathing, or collapse. In these cases, you should seek veterinary care immediately.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Developing a Fever

There are several steps you can take to help prevent your dog from developing a fever. These include maintaining proper hygiene, such as regularly cleaning your dog’s bedding and grooming them to prevent skin infections, ensuring that your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases, and providing your dog with a healthy, balanced diet to support their immune system.

In addition, it is important to monitor your dog’s temperature regularly, especially if they are prone to medical issues, such as arthritis, allergies, or immune system disorders. This can help you detect potential issues early on and seek veterinary care promptly if needed.

Conclusion: Maintaining Your Dog’s Optimal Health

Maintaining your dog’s optimal health requires regular monitoring of their body temperature and prompt veterinary care when necessary. By understanding your dog’s normal body temperature range, the factors that can affect their temperature, and the symptoms and causes of fever in dogs, you can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

If you suspect that your dog has a fever or is experiencing other signs of illness, contact your veterinarian for guidance and treatment. With proper care and attention, you can help your dog live a healthy, happy life.

References and Resources for Further Reading

  • American Kennel Club. (n.d.). Dog Body Temperature: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from
  • Merck Veterinary Manual. (n.d.). Body Temperature in Dogs. Retrieved from
  • PetMD. (2020). Dog Fever: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments. Retrieved from
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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