How to Tell If Your Dog Has A Fever

Here’s what you need to know when your dog has a fever.


A “fever” is a rise above normal dog body temperature. Normal canine body temperatures are between 99.5°–102.5° F. Generally, 103° F is considered a low-grade fever in a dog.

Call your veterinarian about any temperature over 103°F. Your dog’s body temperature can elevate rapidly, especially if the dog is suffering heatstroke. Serious fevers of 105° to 107° F can damage internal organs, which is a veterinary emergency.

Fevers can have a variety of causes. An infection, whether bacterial or viral, that gets the immune system stirred up can cause a fever. Your dog’s temperature will rise if he is overheated or has had a seizure.

Some Microchips Take Body Temperatures
Some identification microchips like the HomeAgain TempScan or Thermochip can provide your dog’s temperature when his chip is scanned. That is probably a dog’s favorite way to have a temperature taken, but most families don’t have a scanner at home and not all dogs have these chips. Still, technology sure can be fun!

Know Your Dog’s Normal Temperature

Ideally, you should know what is normal for your individual dog as dogs can vary on what’s normal. Don’t count on his nose for diagnosing a fever. If the air is hot and dry, most likely, your dog’s nose will be hot and dry. Instead, get an accurate temperature reading.

Take his temperature at a time when you know your dog is feeling well, so you can compare that if you suspect he is ill. If it’s too late for that, put it on your “to do” list for when he is well again.

How to Take a Dog’s Temperature

The most common way to get your dog’s temperature is by using a rectal thermometer. Your family will appreciate it if you keep one thermometer just for your pets. Digital rectal thermometers tend to be faster, are just as accurate as the older style mercury ones and can be easier to read. Either way, a thermometer should be part of your home pet first-aid kit.

To take your dog’s temperature:

  • Lubricate the thermometer with some petroleum jelly, KY jelly or baby oil. If you don’t have any of those, water is better than nothing.
  • Gently lift your dog’s tail and insert the thermometer into the anus. This is usually a two-person job – one to hold your dog’s head, talk to him, and steady him while the other person mans the thermometer.
  • Wait until the beep of a digital thermometer or one minute for a regular one.
  • Remove the thermometer and read and record the temperature.

Note: Ear thermometers can be used on your dog, although some veterinarians do not feel they are as accurate.