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In this lesson, we'll be showing you how to take your pet's temperature – both by yourself and with the help of a friend or family member. We'll also go over the normal temperature range for cats and dogs and the equipment you'll need to take your pet's temperature.

Your pet's temperature is another key vital sign you'll want to become familiar with, and since this is the last vital we'll be discussing, we're going to assume (by now) that you know the importance of knowing what's normal for your pet.

(See how we snuck that reminder in anyway, even after saying we didn't need to.)

The normal temperature range for cats and dogs is between 99.5°F and 102°F. As you can see, that range is smaller than you're used to with other vital signs. That should tell you that temperature is a vital that needs to be more exact than the others.

How to Measure Your Pet's Temperature

To measure your pet's temperature, you only need three items:

  • A quick read thermometer
  • Lubrication
  • An understanding of how long a centimeter or inch is

Pro Tip #1: At first, this most likely isn't going to be comfortable for you or your pet. However, as far as your pet is concerned, if you can begin checking all their vitals while they're puppies, this is probably going to become routine pretty quickly, which should make it easier for them. As far as you're concerned, you'll just need to get over the squeamish part of the task, if you are feeling that way.

Temperature Measuring Steps – Solo

  1. Have your thermometer ready and lubed up.
  2. Get your pet into a comfortable position, either laying down or standing.
  3. Look just under your pet's tail or nubbin if there isn't much of a tail.
  4. Find the entrance to the rectum.
  5. Gently insert the thermometer between 1 centimeter and 1 inch into the rectum.
  6. Press the button on the thermometer.
  7. Wait until it beeps; it will let you know when it has a reading.
  8. Removed the thermometer.
  9. Read the temperature and make a physical or mental note of it.
  10. Decide if you should be concerned.

If your pet's temperature is outside the normal range we provided above, check your pet's other vital signs and ask yourself, again, how he is doing, feeling, and behaving. And is this outside the norm for him?

Temperature Measuring Steps – with Help

Especially in the beginning, it may be easier for you to take your pet's temperature if you have some help. If you do have help, it may also be easier to take your pet's temperature, certainly for dogs, while he is standing.

1. Have your thermometer ready and lubed up.
2. Get your pet into a standing position, facing away from you, the temperature checker.
3. Your helper will be on the front half, while you're positioned on the back half of your pet.

Pro Tip #2: While you're preparing to get his temperature, your helper can distract, talk, or pet him; basically, keeping him occupied and busy but still calm.

4. Look just under your pet's tail or nubbin if there isn't much of a tail.
5. Find the entrance to the rectum.
6. Gently insert the thermometer between 1 centimeter and 1 inch into the rectum.
7. Press the button on the thermometer.
8. Wait until it beeps; it will let you know when it has a reading.
9. Removed the thermometer.
10. Read the temperature and make a physical or mental note of it.
11. Decide if you should be concerned.

It might be easier to watch the corresponding video for this lesson and follow along with Dr. Bobbi. Seeing and doing is always going to trump reading and doing.

Warning: While this may be common sense, it deserves a mention, nonetheless. Even though animal to human transmission of infectious disease is low, you'll still want to wash, sanitize, or disinfect the thermometer after using it.