Most pet owners don’t know their dog’s normal body temperature because it’s not something that they think about until their dog is acting differently. But knowing your dog’s normal temperature is vital information that every pet owner should know!
Not only does a dog’s temperature tell you if they’re not feeling well but it also gives you a look into their overall health and it lets you know what is normal for your dog and what could be cause for concern.
If you’re curious about learning the answer to the important question ‘what is a dog’s normal temperature?’ or discovering more about your dog’s average temperature and how you can keep track of it, be sure to read on for more important information.
What Is the Average Dog Temperature Range?
What should a dog’s temperature be? The average dog temperature range is between 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit but just like with humans, this range can vary based on several different factors.
Your dog’s breed, age, gender, stress levels, and activity levels can all play a factor in their core body temperature. For instance, the normal dog temperature range of a large breed dog like a Newfoundland will usually be higher than the normal temperature range of a Beagle because they are bigger, have a denser coat, and tend to get hot quicker than smaller breeds. Puppies and older dogs generally have a lower temperature range than healthy adult dogs because they can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively.
If your dog’s temperature can vary greatly, then what is a normal dog’s temperature, and how does your dog compare? To answer this, it’s important to be familiar with your dog’s average temperature range. This will make it easier for you to know if you should be worried about your dog’s elevated temperature or if it’s within the normal range for them.
A reliable way to track your dog’s temperature is to get a baseline of their temperature range. You can do this by taking their temperature with a digital rectal thermometer and logging it in a Pet Health 5 notebook. You should try to take a resting temperature when your dog is relaxed. It’s also a good idea to have someone on hand that can help distract your dog.
Since taking your dog’s temperature doesn’t rank high on the fun scale for you or your dog, you can get some great tips in this article: How To Check Your Dog’s Temperature With Ease.
What Can Increase My Dog’s Temperature?
The normal dog temperature range can vary a lot depending on what’s going on in their mind and body which is why it’s always good to have a base range. Medical issues and activity can all play a part in your dog’s temperature.
Some of the more common reasons that a dog’s temperature will increase are:
Dogs that have anxiety may have an elevated body temperature. This is often because they are moving around quite a bit and panting at a fast rate.
Activity, especially in warmer weather, will cause a dog’s body temperature to rise. It’s important to always monitor your dog in warm weather so that they don’t suffer from heatstroke which can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Just like with humans, when an infection is present the body’s natural response is to elevate the body temperature to rid the dangerous bacteria. The same is true for dogs when they get an infection. Infections in dogs can be viral, fungal, or bacteria. Common infections in dogs are ear infections, tooth infections or abscesses, wounds or bites, urinary tract infections, and tick-borne diseases.
The ingestion of toxins such as poisons, plants, mushrooms, human medications, or even human food that is dangerous for dogs can cause a fever in dogs.
Some dogs may experience a low-grade fever when they receive their annual vaccine boosters. This is a normal side effect and most low-grade fevers caused by vaccines will reside within 24-48 hours.
What Can Decrease My Dog’s Temperature?
Just like with an elevated temperature in dogs, a low temperature can be caused by several different things and is referred to as hypothermia. Normally, a temperature below 99 degrees Fahrenheit should be closely monitored.
Hypothermia is when the body temperature drops below the low normal range. Common symptoms of a low body temperature in dogs are difficulty breathing, shivering, weakness, irregular heartbeat, and in extreme cases loss of consciousness. Puppies and senior dogs will tend to be on the lower side of the normal temperature but exposure to extreme cold can lower a dog’s core body temperature and be a concern.
Here’s a list of some of the more common reasons that a dog’s temperature will decrease:
Exposure to Cold
Dogs that are left out in the cold for long periods of time without proper food, shelter, and water will experience a drop in body temperature which can lead to hypothermia.
Hypoglycemia is when a dog’s glucose levels go too low.
Some medications, especially medications used during surgeries can cause a dog’s body temperature to be lower for short periods of time.
Hypothyroidism is when a dog’s thyroid gland is underactive and while it can affect many things like weight, another thing that it can affect is the ability of a dog to regulate their body temperature.
Smaller dogs or dogs that have a short coat will often get colder faster than large dogs with a thick double coat because their coat doesn’t regulate heat the same.
When Does My Dog’s Temperature Require a Vet Visit?
Now that you have learned the answer to ‘what is a normal dog’s temperature’ and discovered how that compares more specifically to your dog, it’s time to consider when your dog’s temperature may call for a visit to the vet. Veterinarians will normally require that your dog be seen by a vet if they have a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If your dog is showing other signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy for more than a day you should contact your vet. If your dog experiences seizures or disorientation, it should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
If you’re unsure what to do, it’s always best to refer back to your Pet Health 5 notebook and reach out to your veterinarian team for guidance.
Your dog’s temperature is one of the five vital stats that we encourage you to monitor. Join us in our Pet Health 5 movement and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. It’s super easy! We’ll send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it. All you need to do is take the time to check your dog’s health stats and log them.
Pet health (more specifically dog health) is an important aspect of helping our dogs live long and happy lives. You can start today by taking your dog’s temperature and signing up for Pet Health 5.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to go beyond the basic question ‘what is a normal dog’s temperature’. Knowing your dog’s average temperature range is a key part of managing their health. When your know what your dog’s average temperature is it will make it easier to know when you need to seek veterinarian care and it also gives your veterinarian important information that helps diagnose and treat your pet.
So tell us, have you taken your dog’s temperature recently? What’s their normal range?
About the Author: Jen is an experienced writer with a passion for sharing her knowledge of living life with big dogs. In her free time, Jen enjoys hiking, baking treats, and spending time with her husband, children, and her 2 Newfies and Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
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