How to Check the Body Temperature of Dogs & Cats

by Ann Compton
Take your pet's temperature if you suspect she's sick.

Take your pet's temperature if you suspect she's sick.

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If you suspect your dog or cat is sick, it's important to take her temperature. This is valuable information to have when you call your vet. The process is the same for dogs and cats, although the normal range is different for each. A dog's normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5 Fahrenheit. A cat's temperature is normal if it's between 100.4 and 102.5 F.

Choose a Thermometer

Purchase a pediatric rectal thermometer. A digital thermometer is safer than glass because it won't break and will signal when it's ready to read. Some digital thermometers read in just a few seconds. A glass thermometer with mercury will take about 3 minutes to register. Prepare the thermometer by swabbing it with a cotton swab dampened with alcohol. Dry it, and place a bit of petroleum jelly on the end. Turn on a digital thermometer or if you're using glass, shake it down.

Take the Temperature

Have a second person hold your dog or cat, if possible. Have your helper hold the animal at the shoulders and head. Stand the animal on a flat surface and lift the tail with one hand. Gently insert the thermometer into the anus with your other hand about an inch into the rectum. Don't force the thermometer or let go of it. When it's ready to read, remove it; swab again with alcohol and read the temperature. A dog or cat has a fever if it registers higher than 102.5.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

With more than 25 years in journalism, Ann Compton has written for national newspapers, magazines and websites. She has covered the equestrian events in five Olympics as well as the Westminster Dog Show and specializes in animal topics. She breeds, trains and shows Shetland Sheepdogs.

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