Fevers in dogs can be life-threatening conditions. Whether it is caused by an infected cut, poisoning or a systemic illness, you need to be able to diagnose a fever in your pooch quickly and with the least amount of hassle. You do have the option of taking your dog to the vet but it is often handy to be able to check their temperature at home.
There are several dog thermometers on the market and there are thermometers that are suitable for human or pet use. You will be able to choose between a digital probe thermometer and an infrared model. It’s important that you know how to spot signs of a fever, how to accurately take your dog’s temperature and what to do if your dog’s temperature is too high.
Here’s all you need to know about the best dog thermometers to get you started.
The Best Dog Thermometer
The premium probe digital thermometer for dogs is safe enough for humans and animals. It is mercury-free and reliable. The temperature is displayed as a digital reading that is given within 10-15 seconds. It’s very easy to use and gives a reassuring bleep to let you know when the reading is complete. The bleep is not too loud so it will not alarm nervous dogs. There is a useful ‘low battery’ indicator.
The thermometer comes with a protective plastic storage case which protects it when it is not in use. It is supplied extra probe covers to maintain cleanliness and has a robust, waterproof design so it is easy to clean effectively after use. These features make it very suitable for rectal use in dogs. There is a dual reading with the temperature displayed in either Fahrenheit or Celsius and you can flick between them by simply pressing a button.
Displays temperature within 15 seconds
Extra probe covers
Waterproof and easy to clean
Display in Fahrenheit or Celsius
- BrandEnji Prime
- Weight0.48 ounces
This is an accurate and very fast digital probe thermometer. A result is displayed within 10 seconds which is very useful for uncooperative pooches! The tip is flexible for maximum comfort and safety when taking rectal temperatures in pets. Also, the thermometer comes with a pack of 50 disposable probe covers so you don’t have to worry about passing on germs. You simply throw the cover away when you have finished. In case you do want to wash the thermometer, it is completely waterproof.
There is a useful alarm that sounds when the digital thermometer for dogs detects that there is a fever so you will have no problems trying to interpret the reading. It also stores the previous reading so you can track your dog’s temperature over a few hours to tell if they are getting better or worse.
50 disposable covers for hygiene
Delivers reading in 10 seconds
Stores previous reading
- BrandCare Touch
- Weight1.6 ounces
Designed for both humans and animals, this infrared thermometer gives fast and accurate results. All you have to do is select the ‘Animal’ mode and it will take your dog’s surface temperature. You can also use it on yourself and other family members if you wish. There is no physical contact with your pooch at all and it is therefore quicker and easier than trying to take a rectal temperature. It is also the ideal choice for nervous and uncooperative dogs. It’s the most hygienic way of recording your dog’s temperature.
Don’t worry if you have forgotten your dog’s usual temperature, it will store 99 previous readings. This is very useful for monitoring temperature fluctuations during an illness. There is an alarm that will sound if the recorded temperature is above the normal range but you can set the ‘normal’ range yourself to suit your dog. It has a backlit LCD screen which will be green when a normal temperature is recorded, orange for a slightly raised temperature and red for a high fever.
No touch operation for hygiene
Special ‘animal’ mode
Programmable ‘normal’ range detection
- Weight9.9 ounces
This safe and sturdy digital probe thermometer is simple to use to take a rectal temperature reading from your dog. You’ll get the results in 10-30 seconds and the tip is flexible to ensure safety and comfort. It’s practically foolproof to use because there is a ‘fever alarm’ that will sound if a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit is detected.
The rectal thermometer for dogs comes with 30 disposable covers that you can discard after taking your dog’s temperature. There is also a facility for recalling the last temperature recorded so that you can track your dog’s fever. It also comes with a sturdy case to keep it safe and clean when it is not in use.
Safe, flexible probe
Includes 30 disposable covers
Last reading recall feature
High fever alarm
- BrandWhite Coat
- Weight2.4 ounces
If the environmental credentials of your electrical products are important to you, this product will appeal. The manufacturers claim that they are dedicated to preserving the environment. Therefore, the product is made from materials that are approved by environmental protection agencies around the world. It contains no mercury, BPA or lead.
The tip is flexible making it safe and pain-free and it is 100 per cent waterproof and easy to clean. Accurate results are delivered as a digital reading quickly. You can switch the unit from Fahrenheit to Celsius with just a press of a button. You can read your dog’s temperature within 30 seconds.
Environmentally friendly canine thermometer
Fahrenheit or Celsius readout
- BrandVital Earth
- Weight0.8 ounces
Best Dog Thermometer Buying Guide & FAQ
Features to Consider When Buying a Dog Thermometer
You will have plenty of choice when it comes to selecting an animal thermometer. Different models have different features so it is useful to consider which would be most useful for you. Here are some of the key features that you may want to look out for in the best dog thermometers.
- Is it suitable for dogs?
In theory, it is possible to use a human probe thermometer on a dog but you need to make sure that it is capable of reading a dog’s temperature which is actually different to humans. Some are advertised as suitable for both animals and humans. Others even have a special ‘animal mode’.
- Comfort and safety
Some dogs are very tolerant of having their temperature taken by inserting a canine thermometer into their rectum. Others are not so keen! It is important to purchase a probe that is flexible and soft so that it will cause as little discomfort as possible. You may also want to consider another type of thermometer (e.g. the infrared models) that do not require you to touch your dog at all.
- Fast and accurate results
Obviously, you need to have accurate results because you will be making decisions based on the reading. You will have to decide whether to take your dog in for an emergency vet’s appointment or not. Fast results are also a bonus. It limits the time that you have to place the animal thermometer in your dog’s rectum. If they are not cooperating with you, the shorter this time is, the better!
- Waterproof design
It is important that you maintain hygiene when you are taking your dog’s temperature. Thermometers can transfer pathogens if they are not cleaned properly and you can only do this if they are waterproof.
- Disposable covers
The most hygienic way of taking your dog’s temperature with a probe thermometer is by using a single-use cover and then safely disposing of it afterward.
- Read out in Fahrenheit and Celsius
This saves you from having to do complicated conversion calculations in your head!
- Storage of previous readings
This is a very useful feature if you are monitoring the progress of your dog’s fever over a few hours.
Why Do You Need a Dog Thermometer
A raised temperature in a dog means the same as it does in a human. Their body is trying to fight off some kind of infection. The cause may be obvious, such as a septic wound, or it may be hidden. Either way, it is a potentially serious situation.
You may have your suspicions that your pooch is running a fever because of changes in their appearance or behavior. Some of the most common signs of a fever in dogs are:
- Loss of appetite
- Red eyes
- Warm, dry nose
- Lethargy/lack of energy
- Warm ears
However, these can all be signs of something else as well. The only way to be totally sure that your pooch has a fever is to use a thermometer and take an accurate reading. Of course, your vet will be happy to do this for you but if you have your own thermometer you can get this information for yourself.
Types of Dog Thermometers
Glass, mercury thermometers are not suitable for use with dogs and could cause injuries. The only two types of thermometers that are suitable for canine use are probe thermometers and infrared thermometers.
- Probe thermometers
Probe thermometers are widely used in animal and human healthcare settings and for food hygiene purposes. Some models are made specifically for use with pets. They can be used to take a rectal temperature (by inserting it into the anus) or an auxiliary temperature (by placing it under the armpit). The rectal method is the most accurate but is the least pleasant. The probe on modern thermometers is soft and flexible for safety and comfort.
The probe works by converting an electric signal into a digital readout of your pet’s temperature. The thermometers often come with disposable covers to make their use more hygienic. Some will store previous readings and others have an alarm that goes off when the temperature reading is high. They deliver fast and accurate results.
- Infrared thermometers
Some dog owners prefer to use a thermometer on their pooch that is not so invasive. They opt for the infrared thermometers that use a phenomenon called black body radiation. As molecules move around, they give off infrared radiation. Hotter objects move around more and give off more infrared radiation. Infrared thermometers can detect this using a detector called a thermopile. The detector gives a reading in Fahrenheit or Celsius.
This type of pet thermometer is either inserted in your dog’s ear (auricular temperature) or some can be used on the skin. The ones that fit into the ear have disposable covers for hygiene reasons. Eardrum thermometers work by detecting the infrared radiation given off by the eardrum This is a long way down the ear canal in dogs and so the thermometers designed for humans will not reach it. You will need to buy a special one for dogs that has a long probe.
These thermometers are only accurate if you have placed them correctly.
How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature
Learning how to quickly and safely take a dog’s temperature is a skill that dog owners should have. It is not the most pleasant activity and your pooch may not be that impressed but it could save their lives one day. You have the choice of using a rectal or a dog ear thermometer which both give the result on a digital screen. Keep your thermometer handy so that you can grab it in an emergency. Most models will give you a readout within 30 seconds so your dog will not be in discomfort for long. Carefully read the instructions that are supplied with the thermometer.
If you are using a rectal thermometer, it may be supplied with disposable covers so put one of these on. Then follow these steps:
- Preset the thermometer to Fahrenheit or Celsius.
- Lubricate the probe with some petroleum jelly or you could use baby oil.
- Praise your dog and reassure them throughout the process. Ask a friend or family member to hold your dog’s muzzle and talk to them quietly to keep them calm. This person should stand or kneel next to your pooch. They should put their elbow that is furthest from the dog under the dog’s chin and bend their other arm under the dog’s chest just behind their front legs. This is a secure and comfortable hold for your dog.
- Now that the dog is secured, you can lift your dog’s tail out of the way (if necessary) and insert the probe one inch into the dog’s anus so that it sits in their rectum. Do this slowly and carefully so as not to cause injury.
- Wait for the thermometer to register a reading on the digital display. Some make a beeping noise when the reading is ready.
- As soon as the thermometer is ready, you can remove it and talk calmly to your dog whilst you read the digital display.
- Dispose of the cover responsibly and wash the probe and your hands.
- If your dog reacts very aggressively to having their temperature taken, it can be a sign that they are sick. Do not persist because you could end up injuring your dog or yourself. It’s best to give up and take them to the vet for further investigations.
Ear thermometers are a little more pleasant to use. They measure the infrared heat waves that are given off by the area around the eardrum. Again, get someone to hold your pooch securely whilst you insert the dog ear thermometer into the ear canal to obtain an accurate reading. The probe needs to be as straight as you can get it and at a 90-degree angle to the dog’s head. There is usually a bleep when the reading has been registered on the pet ear thermometer. Again, stop the procedure at once if your dog is obviously very distressed or aggressive. They may have a sore ear! It is best to consult a vet at this stage.
Never use the old glass thermometers containing mercury on your dog. They are dangerous for both of you. Also, you cannot take an oral temperature in a dog, they will bite the thermometer and damage it and could injure themselves at the same time.
Best Dog Thermometer FAQ:
Q: What is the normal dog temperature range?
A: The normal temperature range for a dog is 99.50 F (37.50C) to 102.50F (39.50C) which is higher than a human’s average temperature. It is important to note this if you are using a human thermometer on a dog.
Any thermometer reading over 1030F indicates that your pooch is running a fever. At this stage, you need to keep a very close eye on them and monitor them. Call your vet and ask their advice. If your pooch has a fever that is over 1060F it is a life-threatening situation and you must get them to a vet immediately. A prolonged, very high fever can cause permanent damage to many organs and can be fatal.
Q: What causes dog fever?
A: There are many different causes of fever in dogs. One of the most common is a bite, scratch or another wound that has become infected. Dogs can also get ear infections and urinary tract infection (UTI). Unfortunately, dental disease in dogs is common and they will get a fever if one of their teeth becomes infected or they develop an abscess. Any systemic bacterial or viral disease will cause a fever as will an infection of one of the internal organs such as the kidneys or lungs. Finally, dogs that have ingested a poisonous material will also run a fever and toxic plants and human medications are typical examples.
Q: What should I do if my dog has a fever?
A: If you find that your dog has a fever, you should take them to the vet right away. Your vet will confirm your temperature reading and carry out some tests and examinations to try to diagnose what is causing the fever.
In the meantime, you should do all you can to cool your dog down. You can put cool (not cold) water around their paws and ears using a soaked towel. Keep them in a cool and well-ventilated room. You could also lay icepacks across their body. Try to coax them to drink a little water if you can. Keep a close eye out for other symptoms that you can mention to your vet to aid the diagnoses.
It is not safe to give human medication for a fever to a dog. Only give them medication that has been prescribed by your vet.
Our Top Pick
Enji Prime Digital Medical Thermometer
A high-quality digital pet thermometer providing a safe way of checking your dog’s temperature. Results are both fast and accurate with a bleep to let you know when the results are ready.
Each pack comes with a sturdy protective plastic storage case and extra probe covers for maximum hygiene. It is waterproof and easy to clean making it suitable for rectal use in dogs. Results are available in Fahrenheit to Celsius for your convenience.
Enji Prime Digital Medical Thermometer