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How to take a small dog's temperature

|Rectal Thermometer |Ear Thermometer|No-touch Thermometer|Video

If your dog seems to be off his game but there's no apparent cause, it's a good idea (and a reassuring one) to take his temperature and see if there is a physical problem.

A Toy or small dog breed's normal temperature usually is 101 to 102 F or 38 to 39 C. It's a good idea to take your dog's temperature when you know he's well or at a routine vet visit so you see what's typical for your dog.

Normal range for most dogs is 100 to 102 F. Anything outside that range requires veterinary care and a temperature of 103 or higher is a medical emergency.

If you use a non-rectal thermometer, always take his temperature in the same area of his body. For example, always use his ear, his gums or his groin rather than using a different body area each time.

Make sure your dog is in a comfortable position away from any cold or heat source that might distort his body temperature before you take his temperature.

It's also a good idea, with the help of your vet's office or friends, to test the rectal thermometer temperature with the non-rectal type you want to use. Depending on your level of confidence and your dog's comfort, you may discover one type of thermometer works the best for the both of you.

Here's a short clear video on how to use a digital rectal thermometer to take your dog's temperature.

digital dog rectal thermometer with beeper
Digital Thermometer

insert metal tip, wait 10
seconds and read the results

Digital Thermometer with Beeper

The only accurate thermometer I've found for dogs is the rectal one. Sorry, Fido.

Dip the pointed end of this in Vaseline (or generic petroleum jelly) and then insert gently. You don't have to go in very far, just so the metal tip is inside your dog.

The thermometer takes his temperature within 20-seconds and beeps. You then read the results in real numbers.

If you're old enough to remember the days of mercury thermometers, you'll really appreciate today's digital ones. The mercury ones also required almost 10 minutes to get a reading.

For less than $10, this is a great deal. I hope every dog owner has this thermometer or similar digital one.

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photograph of dog with ice pack on his head and Pet Temp thermometer in his ear

Pet-Temp Instant Ear Thermometer for Pets

I so wanted to like this thermometer. No dog or owner likes the rectal thermometer, and this could have been a fantastic improvement.

Unfortunately after a couple years, my experience is this is neither as accurate nor as reliable as the rectal thermometer.

It's also quite difficult the first time you try to insert it in your dog's ear. He is unlikely to cooperate, and you may need several tries to figure out how to 'aim' it so it goes in far enough.

Pet-Temp brand is the only ear thermometer designed specifically for a dog's deep (horizontal) ear canal. It is safe for all breeds of dogs.

To use, turn on the Pet-Temp, install the lens cover, insert in the ear, and push the button. Pet-Temp beeps when temperature measurement is complete and appears on the display.

You do have to buy a supply of Pet Temp Disposable Lens Covers as you need a new one each time you use the thermometer or it won't work right.

Another downside to this product is that you have to send it to the manufacturer when the lithium battery gives out (supposedly after 5 years). That may be more expensive than buying a discounted new one.

It could have been great. If you or your dog absolutely will not tolerate a rectal thermometer, it is less expensive than the non-touch one below and a better choice than nothing.

dog paw print

color image of first non-contact pet thermometer
Non contact thermometer



ThermoPet Dog Thermometer. The World's first completely non contact thermometer for dogs!

A newer addition, this is so easy to use. You simply place within half an inch of your dog's inner ear, upper gum or groin, point and click.

If you don't want to look at the results, you can let it read you the results in English, Spanish or French!

I bought this one and like it much better than the ear thermometer.

If you or your dog will not tolerate the use of a rectal thermometer, this would be my second choice.

If you get one, take it to your vet at your next appointment and let the doctor or vet tech try it out along with a rectal thermometer to test its accuracy. If you can predict a standard difference, that's almost as good as a wholly accurate reading.

Note: I suggest turning off the audio reading. The sound may scare your dog and you too if you weren't expecting it. The digital pad is easy to read as it is.

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