Do you know how to take your pet’s temperature?

Normal body temperature for dogs and cats ranges between 99 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  A pet who has played or exercised strenuously often has a slightly elevated temperature of a degree or two.  However it should return to normal range with rest.  Although a fever by itself may not be dangerous, it could point  to underlying problems that need first aid.  Here’s how to take your pet’s temperature.

    • Use a rectal thermometer.  For a bulb thermometer, shake down the mercury until it reads about 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Lubricate the bulb tip of the rectal thermometer or the end of the of a digital thermometer with mineral oil, K-Y Jelly, or petroleum jelly.
    • Grasp the base of your pet’s tail and lift to access the anus.  Insert the thermometer about halfway in.  Keep a firm grip on the tail to keep your pet form escaping or sitting down on the thermometer.

After about 3 minutes, remove the thermometer, wipe it clean with a tissue, and read the silver column of mercury.  (Follow the manufacturer’s directions to read a digital thermometer.)  Be sure to clean the thermometer with alcohol to avoid spreading disease.

Once you take your pet’s termperature, it’s important for you to know when it’s considered normal and when it signals an emergency situation.  Check the chart below to determine when your pet’s okay and when he/she needs immediate medical attention.

106F or higher Emergency! Cool your pet YES, immediately
105F High Fever YES, same day
104F Moderate Fever YES
103F Moderate Fever YES
102F Normal Range NO
101F Normal Range NO
100F Normal Range NO
99F Normal Range NO
98F to 95F Mild Hypothermia YES, same day
Below 95F Emergency! Warm your pet YES, immediately

Shojai, Amy D. The First Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats. Rodale, Inc., 2001.