What Is a Normal Dog Temperature Range?

Dog temperature can be indicative of the animal's general health. The average temperature of a dog is 101 degrees F or 38 degrees C. A temperature that is above normal range can mean that the dog is sick and a vet needs to be consulted.

Normal Dog Temperature Range

Dogs are warm blooded (homothermic) mammals, and they manage to keep their temperature at normal levels regardless of the environment. The normal temperature range of an adult canine is between 100 and 102.5 degrees F, or 37.8 and 39.2 degrees C.

Typically, the most accurate results will be obtained by taking the dog's temperature rectally, but the temperature can also be taken in the ears, using a digital thermometer.

Puppies may have a lower temperature, as they have difficulties in keeping their body heat elevated. You should keep the puppy's room warm so that he can have a normal temperature.

The dog's temperature is controlled by a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which sends signals when the environmental conditions change. When the environment is cold, the hypothalamus will stimulate the muscles and these may shiver, produce heat and eventually adapt to the new temperature. Dogs also have fur which will protect them from the cold.

When the environment is hot, the hypothalamus will send signals to enlarge the blood vessels and allow more heat to be evaporated, so that the dog is not too warm. Dogs sweat through their paws, but they are not as effective at releasing warmth. This is the reason why dogs may have difficulties with heat. Dogs may also release heat through panting.

Temperature Variations

The temperature of dogs may vary according to their age, breed and level of activity. Typically, puppies and older dogs have a lower temperature. More active dogs have an elevated temperature.

Don't be alarmed if your dog has a higher temperature after exercising, as the muscle movement will stimulate the heat production. After meals, the digestion of food will cause an increase of temperature by 1 or 2 degrees. If the dog is agitated, his temperature may also rise.

The best time to take the dog's temperature is in the evening, before meals and ideally not after exercising or walking.

Abnormal Temperatures

If your pet has a temperature below 99 degrees F (37 degrees C), or above 102.5 degrees F (39.2 degrees C) you should notify your vet.

A low temperature may be indicative of:

  • Hypothermia, which may be due to a sudden change of temperature and the inability of the dog to adapt
  • Hypoglycemia or low glucose levels
  • Hypothalamus dysfunction
  • Infection that causes chills

A high temperature may signal that the dog is affected by:

  • Heat stroke
  • Poisoning
  • Infection
  • Hypothalamus dysfunction or a brain tumor that affects the hypothalamus

The vet should examine the dog and establish if there is a problem. Notice if there are additional symptoms that could point to a diagnosis.