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How to Take Your Pet's Temperature
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
How To's
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Q. How can I take my pet's temperature at home?
A. You will need a rectal thermometer to take your dog's or cat's temperature. You do not need a special 'dog' or 'cat' thermometer  €“ you can use one designed for human use.

Be aware that cats, especially, have very strong muscles around the anus and usually struggle very actively when you attempt to take their temperature. Unless you are skilled in doing so, or have a very cooperative cat, you may want to have one of the staff at your veterinarian's office take your cat's temperature.

Shake down the thermometer until the reading is 96°F or less.

Lubricate the thermometer with some vaseline or lubricating jelly.

Grasp your pet's tail at the base and raise it. Hold it firmly so your pet will not sit down. Reassure and talk quietly to your pet during the whole procedure. This will help keep your pet calm, relaxed, and holding still.

Taking a dog's temperature Gently insert the bulb portion of the thermometer into your pet's anus. It works best if you use a twisting motion. Insert the thermometer about 1 inch in cats and small dogs, and up to three inches for giant breed dogs.

Leave the thermometer in place for 1-2 minutes. Then remove it and wipe it with gauze or a cotton ball. Read the temperature at the end of the column of mercury.

Clean the thermometer with rubbing alcohol and store it safely.

Normal Rectal Temperature
Dog 100° to 102.5°F
Newborn Puppy 96° to 100°F
Cat 100° to 102.5°F
Newborn Kitten 97° (at birth) to 100°F (one week of age)

If the thermometer would break off inside your pet, do not panic. Do NOT try to retrieve the broken portion inside your pet. Call your veterinarian and explain the situation.

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