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Take a Temperature: How to

How to Take Your Pet's Temperature (RECTAL)

Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
How Tos

Q.

How can I take my pet's temperature at home?

A.

Rectal Thermometer

You will need a rectal thermometer to take your dog's or cat's temperature. You do not need a special 'dog' or 'cat' thermometer you can use one designed for human use.

Be aware that cats, especially, have very strong muscles around the anus and usually struggle very actively when you attempt to take their temperature. Unless you are skilled in doing so, or have a very cooperative cat, you may want to have one of the staff at your veterinarian's office take your cat's temperature.

Shake down the thermometer until the reading is 96F or less.

Lubricate the thermometer with some vaseline or lubricating jelly.

Grasp your pet's tail at the base and raise it. Hold it firmly so your pet will not sit down. Reassure and talk quietly to your pet during the whole procedure. This will help keep your pet calm, relaxed, and holding still.

Taking a dog's temperature Gently insert the bulb portion of the thermometer into your pet's anus. It works best if you use a twisting motion. Insert the thermometer about 1 inch in cats and small dogs, and up to three inches for giant breed dogs.

Leave the thermometer in place for 1-2 minutes. Then remove it and wipe it with gauze or a cotton ball. Read the temperature at the end of the column of mercury.

Clean the thermometer with rubbing alcohol and store it safely.

Normal Rectal Temperature
Dog 100 to 102.5F
Newborn Puppy 96 to 100F
Cat 100 to 102.5F
Newborn Kitten 97 (at birth) to 100F (one week of age)

If the thermometer would break off inside your pet, do not panic. Do NOT try to retrieve the broken portion inside your pet. Call your veterinarian and explain the situation.

How to Take Your Pet's Temperature (EAR):

Instructions for Ear Temperatures:

The normal Ear temperature in dogs is between 100.0 degrees and 103.0 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees and 39.4 degrees Celsius).

The ear thermometer works by measuring infrared heat waves that come from the ear drum area. The ear drum is considered to be a good indicator of body temperature as it measures brain blood temperature.

It is important to place the thermometer deep into the horizontal ear canal to obtain an accurate reading.

An ear thermometer such as the Pet-Temp designed for cats and dogs works best due to a longer arm that allows for the probe to be placed deeper into the ear canal.

The first few times you use it, take both an ear and rectal temperature and compare. The results should be very close if you are using the proper ear technique.
If your dog has a body temperature less than 99 degrees or over 104 degrees, contact your veterinarian or local emergency facility immediately. A high temperature could mean your dog has an infection or heat-related illness. A temperature below normal can be just as serious, indicating other problems such as shock.

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