What is a Normal Temperature for Dogs?
If you have a dog, you may realize that they typically stay warmer than you do. When you touch your pet, they may feel warm, and this can be a cause for concern. You might wonder if your dog has a fever, and you may be unsure how to tell the difference from a normally warm dog and a dog with fever symptoms.
In the article below, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about temperature fluctuations in dogs. We’ll help you learn which temperature range is recommended for dogs, and what to do if you think your pet has a fever, too.
Normal Canine Temperature
The normal temperature range for a dog is between 101- and 102.5-degrees Fahrenheit. In Celsius, this translates to 38.3 to 39.1, roughly. There is a slight variance in this range that can account for several factors, including the temperature outside and your dog’s recent activity levels. This temperature range is a few degrees higher than a humans’ normal temperature, which is why dogs feel comfortably warm to humans when we touch or pet them.
Dogs are considered to have a fever if they have a temperature that is 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 Celsius) or higher.
Temperature in Pregnant Females
During the pregnancy, female dogs have the same temperature range as other dogs. However, when they are within 24 hours of going into labor, pregnant female dogs’ bodies drop several degrees in temperature. It is normal for a pregnant female dog’s body temperature to measure around 99 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37.2 degrees Celsius. It could drop even lower in some instances.
If your dog is not pregnant and her temperature drops to 99 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, this is a serious medical emergency. You should go to the emergency veterinarian right away if a non-pregnant dog experiences such a dramatic drop in body temperature.
Temperature in Puppies
The normal body temperature of a puppy depends on its age. A newborn puppy typically has a temperature of 95 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 37.2 degrees Celsius). By two to three weeks of age, the temperature will raise slightly to a range of 97 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1 to 37.8 degrees Celsius).
By the time a puppy is about a month old, they should have the same temperature range as a fully-grown adult dog. If you have very young puppies in your care, be sure to work closely with your vet to monitor for any signs of fever or illness.
How to Check Your Dog’s Temperature
The best way to check a dog’s temperature is rectally. Unfortunately, this is very unpleasant for dogs, and they do not understand what is happening to them, so it can be difficult to safely check your dog’s temperature on your own at home.
Purchase a thermometer from a pet store specifically for the purpose of canine temperature checks. Coat the thermometer in petroleum gel and ask someone else in your household to help distract and hold your dog, if possible. Then gently and carefully insert the thermometer into the dog’s anus. It should take less than one minute for canine thermometers to give you a reading.
Symptoms of Fever in Dogs
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms it could mean that they have a fever. Be sure to call your veterinarian and let them know.
One of the earliest symptoms of fever in dogs is lethargy. Dogs who have fevers may have very little energy to get up and move around, and they may show no interest in typical activities, either.
Loss of Appetite
A loss of appetite often goes along with a fever in dogs. Encourage your dog to eat by providing tasty food and extra treats if they are dealing with a fever.
Signs of Dehydration
Dogs with fevers may quickly become dehydrated. If your pet shows signs of dehydration, such as a loss of skin elasticity or sunken eyes, this may mean they are feverish.
What to Do if Your Dog has a Fever
If you know or suspect that your dog has a fever, contact your vet right away. The sooner you can take your dog to the vet, the better. However, for mild fevers, it is typically okay to wait until your regular vet has an opening, unless the wait will be more than a day or two.
For moderate to severe fevers, it is best to head to the emergency vet. These higher fevers can get out of hand quickly and may cause lasting damage in some instances.
Based on this information, you should have a better understanding of what your dog’s normal body temperature should be. You should also know how to tell if your dog has a fever and how you need to respond when this happens, too. Keep this information in mind to help you make the right decisions about your pet’s health and wellness.
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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.
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