An In-Depth Guide on Ideal Temperature for Dogs

An In-Depth Guide on Ideal Temperature for Dogs

What’s considered a normal temperature for your pup, and how do you know if they are fever-stricken? Read on for an in-depth guide by Finn.

title card temperature

All of us pet parents want to keep our dogs healthy and happy as best we can. This includes keeping an eye on them to check for things like ear infections, discomfort, and of course, fever.

It’s not always obvious when your dog’s temperature is out of normal range, which is why it’s important to know what to look out for. Luckily for you, Finn has put together an in-depth guide on the ideal temperature for dogs. 

What’s a Normal Body Temperature for a Dog?

The normal body temperature for a dog is between 101° and 102.5° F (38.3° to 39.2° C). Body temperatures will vary upon the dog, as all dogs’ bodies are different. 

Because the normal body temperature for dogs is a bit higher than that of humans, your dog may feel feverish to you even when their temperature is completely level. That said, if your dog is feeling warm, don’t fret! 

It’s a higher temperature accompanied by other symptoms that serve as a sign that something is wrong.

Some symptoms to look out for in a dog with a high temperature: 

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Panting
  • Dark red gums
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal discharge
  • Excessive drooling
  • Warm to the touch
  • Red, flushed skin
  • A racing heart
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

article high temperature symtoms temperature

Some symptoms to look out for in a dog with a low temperature: 

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Shivering
  • Stiff muscles
  • Pale or gray gums
  • Fixed and dilated pupils
  • Low heart and breathing rates
  • Lack of coordination 

As you can see, some of the symptoms overlap, so it’s important to take your pup to the vet if you notice a temperature change paired with any of the above symptoms.

How To Take Your Dog’s Temperature

The only way to truly tell if your dog has a high or low temperature is to take it with a thermometer. If you notice that your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, go ahead and measure their body temp. There are two ways to do this.

Through the Rectum

A rectal thermometer will give you the most accurate reading of your dog’s body temperature. As the name implies, this type of thermometer is placed into your dog’s rectum, i.e. their butt. 

Bring your dog to their vet or an emergency clinic if you don’t feel like you can handle taking a rectal reading. 

Some rectal thermometers are a bit more old-school, still made of glass and filled with mercury. The mercury is shaken down into the thermometer bulb, expands when the temperature rises, and then moves up the glass cylinder, which ultimately reads the temperature. 

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To take your dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer, coat the “reading” end with a lubricant that’s safe for pets. For this, you can use either baby oil, olive oil, or coconut oil (petroleum jelly is OK, too, but we prefer the more natural alternatives!). 

You’ll want to insert the thermometer one inch into your dog’s rectum, leaving it there until you have a temperature result. This can take up to 30 seconds. Be patient and gentle as most dogs will find this process uncomfortable — don’t forgot to praise your pup and let them know they’re doing a good job!

Through the Ear

A digital thermometer has a digital numerical display, and no mercury (thank goodness). These types of thermometers can be read in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. They’re usually meant to be inserted into your dog’s ear canal, but they do make digital thermometers for rectal readings, too, since those readings are the most accurate and are actually safer to take than an ear reading. 

In order to get a proper reading, you need to make sure the thermometer is close enough to your pup’s eardrum. Ear readings are considered less precise than rectum readings, but they’re less invasive and are the only option for some pups who cannot tolerate a rectum reading.

What Are the Causes of Fever in Dogs?

There are a variety of reasons why your dog’s temperature might be on the rise. 


When your dog receives a vaccine, a low-grade fever can occur, which is just a slight rise in your dog’s normal body temperature. This usually isn’t cause for alarm, as it’s pretty common in dogs (as it is in humans). Make sure you are watching your dog carefully after they receive a vaccine. If the fever persists or rises, call their vet. 

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Some Toxins

Consuming poisonous substances can result in a fever. Just a few of the most commonly ingested toxic substances that can cause fever include macadamia nuts and medications for humans (like antidepressants).

Hot Weather or High Humidity

Humid weather conditions or a really hot day could cause your dog’s temperature to rise. Hot external temperatures and excessive exercise can result in heatstroke. If the weather is an issue for your pet, make sure you shelter them in a cool space.

Fever of Unknown Origin

A fever of unknown origin, or FUO, is basically when the underlying cause of a dog’s persistent fever cannot be determined. That being said, the most likely causes for FUOs are disorders of the immune system, bone marrow problems, undiagnosed infections, or cancer.

What Are the Causes of Low Body Temperature in Dogs?

Cold and dry outdoor weather conditions can cause your dog’s body temperature to drop, especially in small and short-haired breeds, puppies, and senior dogs. 

article causes low temperature temperature

For hypothermia, prevention is key. If you know your dog is sensitive to the cold, keep them indoors. Make sure potty breaks are short and sweet and warm your pup up with a coat or sweater. Booties may also be a good idea as a ton of heat escapes through a dog’s footpads. 

Shock due to a traumatic incident and fright can also cause your dog’s body temperature to decrease. 

What To Do If Your Dog’s Temperature Is Too High or Low

There are a few ways to handle this. Of course, if your dog is exhibiting abnormal behavior and seems sickly, take them to a vet and have a specialist take care of them. 

  • Sometimes, elevated temperatures occur when your dog is over-excited, agitated, or emotional. If this is the case, consider comforting and calming your pup down with a supplement. Finn’s Chill Pup Bundle is made to support your pet through life’s stressful moments. Finn’s Calming Aid harnesses natural herbs like organic chamomile and valerian root to help your pup relax.
  • If your pup has a fever, apply cool water to their paws and their fur. Use a fan and blow the air onto their damp coat. Try to have them drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated. 
  • If your pup’s temperature drops, wrap them in a blanket to warm them up. You can also place a homemade heating pad in the blanket with them — drench a dish towel in water, place it in a Ziploc, and microwave it for about one to two minutes. Wrap that in another dish towel, or else the hot Ziploc could burn your pup.

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Whether high or low, make sure you monitor your dog’s temperature every 10 minutes or so, and call your vet to let them know what’s happening so they can provide additional guidance. 


Let’s connect the dots. To summarize, we’ve discussed your dog’s body temperature, both high and low. The normal body temperature for dogs is between 101° and 102.5° F (38.3 to 39.2° C). Temperatures above 106° F and below 98° are medical emergencies.

There are typically two ways to take your dog’s temperature. You can either use a thermometer through their rectum or their ear. A rectal reading is more reliable than a reading through the ear canal.

Consult a vet if your pup’s temperature is too high or too low, and do the following on your way to the vet:

  • If high, dampen their fur, use a fan, and put cold water on their ears and paws until you can get them to the vet. 
  • If low, wrap them in a blanket and use a homemade heating pad.


Taking Your Pet's Temperature | VCA Animal Hospital

Hypothermia in Pets | Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital 

Common Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs | Memphis Vets | Stage Road Animal Hospital.



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