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How To Take Your Dog’s Temperature

How To Take Your Dogs Temperature

When your dog is ill, it's often important to know whether or not he has a fever because it may help you decide if he needs immediate veterinary care. While you may have heard that feeling your dog's nose or ears is a good way to determine if he's feverish, it is by no means accurate. You need to get his internal temperature, and the most reliable way to do that is with a rectal thermometer.

How to use a rectal thermometer

It's not difficult to take your dog's temperature rectally, but it is a task best performed by two people. Have someone hold the dog still, preferably someone the dog knows and likes. If no help is available, make your dog lie down on his side and hold him as best you can, while talking to him soothingly. After shaking down the thermometer and lubricating it well with petroleum jelly, lift his tail and gently push the thermometer in with a twisting motion. Insert the thermometer from one to three inches, depending on the size of your dog and hold it in place for at least two minutes.

After you remove the thermometer, wipe it cleanve and read the temperature by the height of the silver column of mercury on the thermometer scale. A temperature of 100.5° to 102°F degrees is normal.

Taking your dog's temperature by ear

When used properly, ear thermometers are a reliable and less invasive way to take your dog's temperature. An ear thermometer works by measuring infrared heat waves that are emitted from the dog's eardrum area. Be sure to place the thermometer deep into the horizontal ear canal to obtain an accurate reading. A dog's normal ear temperature is between 100° to 103°F. Note that ear thermometers are generally more expensive than rectal thermometers and, if not used properly, are less accurate.

When to contact your vet

Any time a dog's temperature falls below 99°F or rises above 103°F, you should contact your veterinarian. If your dog has a high temperature, it can be a sign that he is suffering from an infection or an illness. A low temperature, on the other hand, can indicate shock or other serious illness. In either case, it's best to err on the side of caution.

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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