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Take temperature orally?

Species: Dog
Breed: Collie mix
Age: 8-11 years
My dog is recovering from pretty serious surgery. I am supposed to be taking his temperature on a daily basis. This is much easier said than done given that he is a large dog with an almost non-existent tail that he can clamp shut at will. If I had to, I could have a couple of folks sit on him (like they do at the vet) but it seems like taking an oral temperature would be equally effective. I have been told by a vet that the touch/read thermometers are not that accurate on dogs. So, I am using a soft-tip digital thermometer that measures the temp in 10 seconds. My dog is very used to having his teeth brushed and tolerates the thermometer in his mouth with no inclination to bite it. I am just laying it along this inside gum/cheek pouch towards the back. As long as I make sure he hasn't been eating or drinking anything in the past 20 minutes, I am wondering if this is an accurate reading. The only explanation I could find for not taking oral temps from dogs is the fear that they may bite a glass thermometer and ingest either glass or mercury. That is not an issue in this case. He seems to be doing well and shows no outward signs of fever. I don't want to stress him out and risk him popping staples if I don't really need to. Can you tell me if taking his temp this way (temp is a little over a 100 degrees) is ok? Thanks for any advice.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah, it is often difficult to take a rectal temperature on a dog.

In 12 years of practice this is the first time some one has asked me if you can take a pet's temperature orally!

You really should be able to do this. The concern though would be to make sure that the thermometer is in the right spot. They are meant to be placed under the tongue and I would be surprised if Hilton would allow you to do this. I would imagine though that placing it firmly against the cheek should accomplish the same thing.

You are right that ear thermometers are not accurate in dogs.

Here is what I would love to do. Do you think you could handle taking his temperature rectally one more time? If so, take his temperature rectally, then take it orally. (Ideally it would be best to use a second thermometer to take it orally after the first one has been in the rectum.) Then, you can tell if you are getting the same reading orally and rectally.

A normal temperature for a dog should be between 100F and 102F. So, if you are reading a little over 100 degrees this should be ok.

I hope he recovers quickly!

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

I will do this a few more times to make sure it is consistent but it does seem that there will be an approximate one degree difference. The oral temperature is about that much lower and I have done this twice. Of course, it is warm here so the dog is panting. Luckily, the anti-seizure meds have kicked in so he was pretty relaxed for the whole thing. Regardless, it is somewhere between 100 and 102 so I am happy about that. Thanks so much for your help.


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.