Taking your pet’s temperature is easily done at home and is very important when you are monitoring a sick patient. Your pet’s temperature can be elevated due to a disease or infection, but also due to excitement, stress or being locked in a warm space. The best way to measure the temperature is with a digital rectal thermometer, which can be bought at any pharmacy. Ear thermometers are also available, but they are not equally accurate unless you are experienced in their use. In addition to the thermometer, you will also need Vaseline, K-Y jelly or some other lubricant.
With a calm pet, you can take the temperature on your own, but if your pet is excited, young or will not stay in place, it is often easier to have someone distracting or holding the pet while another person inserts the thermometer. If you pet is fearful, aggressive or for some other reason will not allow you to take the temperature, do not force the procedure as you might get bitten or harm your pet. Cats usually object to having their temperature taken, so might require some practice!
To take the temperature, place a small amount of lubricant on the thermometer, lift the animal’s tail and gently insert the thermometer a short way into the rectum. Once the thermometer is in place, you can let go of the tail as holding the tail is generally more irritating to the animal than the actual thermometer. Digital thermometers have timers, so leave the thermometer in until you hear a beep, after which you can remove the thermometer, record the temperature and wipe it clean. After use, clean the thermometer with a disinfectant and leave to dry.
The normal body temperature is usually between 101 °F and 102 °F (38 °C – 39 °C). Temperatures above 103 °F (39.5 °C) are generally considered a fever, although they can briefly be high after strenuous exercise or excitement, in which case the temperature can be measured again after the animal has calmed down. In case of a persisting fever, please contact your vet, especially if your pet has other symptoms of illness.
Article by: Dr. Laura Wessman