A healthy dog at rest will have a normal temperature of between 100.5 and 102.5.
Taking a dog's temperature is pretty basic, but can be a bit tricky if your dog is uncooperative. It is best to have two people take a dog's temperature: One to hold the front part and keep the dog distracted and the other to take the temperature.
There is only one way to do it, and that's rectally.
You should always keep the following items on hand, because you never know when you may need to take your dog's temperature:
A lubricant (small container of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly)
A digital rectal thermometer
When choosing a thermometer, make sure that it is a RECTAL thermometer. You want a quick read thermometer, but not one that reads too fast. With technological advances, thermometers can read pretty fast, but you need one that takes into account that you are probably wrestling with a dog that doesn't want anything stuck up its butt, so take that into account.
You can buy rather inexpensive digital thermometers from your local drug store, such as the Nexcare Digital Flex. Having a flexible thermometer is also to your advantage if you have a squirmy dog.
We DO NOT recommend a regular old fashion glass thermometer!
Glass thermometers not only take longer to register a temperature, but could break inside the dog's rectum causing all sorts of mayhem and freaking out, but also contain a tiny bit of mercury (in some cases) which only makes everything worse and more freaking out.
Once you have your dog thermometer and lubricant MARK THEM SO YOU KNOW THEY ARE FOR THE DOG!!!
We're pretty sure you don't want to stumble up to your medicine cabinet when you are sick and stuff a thermometer in your mouth only to discover... yep... mark them!
Now that you have the necessary items, simply dip the tip of the thermometer in the lubricant, have your friend hold or distract your dog, make sure the thermometer is ON, lift up the tail and gently insert into the rectum.
Don't shove or force it in, just gently glide it in. You don't have to go all the way to the knuckle, just make sure the tip is in the rectum and wait for the beep of the thermometer.
Gently pull the thermometer out and read the temperature.
Taking your dog's temperature is vital if your dog is recovering from a surgical procedure to help you determine if there may be complications such as infection. It will also keep you from totally freaking out if they aren't acting right, but even if the temperature is normal, please consult your vet anyway to rule out anything serious. Having the ability to take your dog's temperature also helps your vet to determine how serious your dog's condition may be and whether a visit is needed the next day, or the next hour.
Please note that there are thermometers that read a dog's temperature from their inner ear. We've taken a look at them and you really have to shove that thing deep into the ear canal to get an accurate reading. Our biggest concern would be that most dogs like having something shoved in their ear even worse than having something shoved up their butt. The danger would be a badly timed ear shake rupturing the ear drum or causing ear damage.