How to Check the Temperature of Your Puppy

Female veterinarian holding a thermometer with a dog.

The warmth of your puppy's body as determined by a thermometer is referred to as its temperature. Up to the age of four weeks, a puppy's usual temperature is a few degrees lower than that of an adult dog. Learn how to take a and when a high or low reading can raise concerns.

Normal Body Temperature in Puppies

A newborn puppy's body temperature cannot be controlled, thus it depends on the warmth of its mother and other puppies in the litter to maintain a normal temperature. They may run the danger of becoming both too hot and too chilly since their own body temperature will fluctuate depending on their surroundings. A temperature outside of a newborn pup's typical range, which ranges from 96 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit, might signify a health issue.

A puppy's body temperature during the second and third weeks of life will vary from 97 to 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A puppy's body temperature will range between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of the fourth week, when it is typically normal for an adult dog.

If you have to take your puppy's temperature at home, make sure you know how to do it correctly and reward your dog with lots of food and affection. Additionally, it will benefit the dog to become accustomed to this type of handling so that your puppy won't be afraid the next time the vet performs it.

Fever in Puppies

Temperatures higher than normal may be referred to as a fever or hyperthermia depending on the cause.

Because a higher-than-normal body temperature aids the immune system in fighting viruses and bacteria, fever is the body's natural defensive mechanism against infection. Fevers linked to infection can be brought on by a wide range of diseases or wounds, such as the Parvovirus, D-istemper, pneumonia, Kennel cough, ear infections, infected bite wounds, a painful hot spot, or any other internal source of infection.

Exercise-related overheating or exposure to extreme heat can also cause a higher-than-normal body temperature. Puppies and dogs of any age can get heat stroke in this situation, and they can exhibit abnormally high body temperatures in addition to other symptoms including lethargy, disorientation, bloody diarrhea, or even convulsions.

When your dog's fever rises beyond 103 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if they exhibit any other unsettling symptoms, you should take them to the clinic. It is advisable to avoid waiting until temperatures reach dangerously high levels because doing so might cause harm to the dog's internal organs and could be deadly. By covering your dog with a cold washcloth soaked in cool water and setting them in front of a fan, you may safely assist lower a dog's temperature. Except as recommended by your veterinarian, avoid giving your dog any human fever-reducing drugs since many of them are hazardous to dogs.

Low Body Temperature in Puppies

A lower-than-normal body temperature is referred to as hypothermia. A newborn puppy's body temperature might drop dangerously if it squirms away from its littermates or mother. For the first week, a newborn puppy that has been abandoned should be kept in an environment that is 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and then 80 degrees until the fourth week. To prevent skin burns and overheating, it's crucial to use safe sources of heat. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best methods to keep an orphaned puppy warm.

Hypothermia can also be brought on by shock for a variety of reasons, such as blood loss, extreme dehydration, or poor circulation. Shock is frequently brought on by trauma, such as a fall, a vehicle accident, a serious bite wound, heart failure, or anaphylaxis, a severe allergic response.

Low body temperature can also occur from certain drugs, such as anesthetics and sedatives.

Additionally, continuous exposure to extremely low temperatures causes a decline in body temperature. Young pups can die rapidly from hypothermia, but any dog can be at risk if it is not protected from severely cold weather, which can also result in frostbite. If your dog is suffering from a low body temperature as a result of exposure to extremely cold temperatures, progressively rewarm your pet over the period of one to four hours with the aim of raising its temperature to 98 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended to contact a veterinarian straight soon if you are worried about hypothermia since it is crucial to utilize the proper warming procedure to prevent burns or other issues.

How to Take Your Puppy's Temperature

You will need a human rectal thermometer to get a good reading. Ear temperature is unreliable in dogs, and checking how the nose feels is simply an old myth.

  1. Use a rectal thermometer, either digital or bulb, to take your pup's temperature. Many dogs are uncomfortable with being touched around their tail and hind end, so if your dog is nervous, use a calm voice and treats to make them feel more comfortable. If your dog is very distressed by this, or you are concerned about being bitten, it is best to stop and see your vet for professional help.
  2. For bulb thermometers, shake down the thermometer until it reads about 96 degrees Fahrenheit. A digital thermometer won't need this but should be switched on.
  3. Use a petroleum jelly based product to generously lubricate the tip of the thermometer.
  4. Your pup will need to remain still for up to one minute, so allow your dog to choose a comfortable standing or reclining position.
  5. Use one hand to gently lift the dog's tail to expose the anus. Your other hand gently inserts the lubricated end of the thermometer into the rectum just enough for the metal tip to be completely inside. The rectal tissues are delicate and especially in small dogs or young puppies, there is a risk of trauma to these tissues if they are squirming or too much force is used. Once again, it is best to err on the side of caution and stop if things are not going smoothly.
  6. Hold the thermometer gently in place until the reading is complete.
  7. Speak calmly to your pup and continue to offer treats or gently stroke the dog so it won't wiggle away. After the reading is complete, gently remove the thermometer, wipe it clean, and read the temperature. Inaccurate readings can occur if the thermometer was not in the proper place for the whole time, or if there is a large amount of feces in the way so readings should be interpreted with this in mind. Additionally, when dogs are very nervous or excited, their temperatures may be temporarily elevated.
  8. Clean and disinfect the thermometer after each use with rubbing alcohol or a comparable disinfectant.


"Reyes-Sotelo, Brenda, Mota-Rojas, Daniel, Martinez-Burnes, Julio, Olmos-Hernandez, Adriana, Hernandez-Avalos, Ismael, et al. Thermal Homeostasis In The Newborn Puppy: Behavioral and Physiological Responses. Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometerology, 9,2112, 2021, doi:10.31893/jabb.21012" ;