• axilla;
  • behavior;
  • body temperature;
  • ear;
  • rectum;
  • thermometers



To evaluate the accuracy and associated induced stress response of axillary, auricular, and rectal thermometry in hospitalized dogs.


Prospective observational study from October 2011 to February 2012.


University veterinary teaching hospital.


Two hundred fifty hospitalized dogs. All hospitalized dogs were considered eligible unless their condition precluded measurement at one of the designated sites.


A veterinary auricular infrared device for auricular temperature (OT) and an electronic predictive thermometer for rectal temperature (RT) and axillary temperature (AT) were used for temperature measurements. All recordings were obtained by the same investigator in a randomized fashion. Heart rate was noted before and immediately after each measurement. Stress behaviors (eg, vocalization, lip licking, shaking, panting, defensive behavior) were also recorded and graded from 0 (lowest) to 4 (highest). Signalment, analgesic therapy, and length of hospitalization were recorded.

Measurements and Main Results

RT measurements were associated with greatest increase in heart rate (P < 0.05). Scores obtained for defensive behavior, lip licking, and vocalization were lowest with AT and highest with RT measurements (P < 0.05).

Mean RT, AT, and OT were 38.0°C (SD: 0.85°C), 37.0°C (SD: 0.99°C), and 37.23°C (SD: 1.0382°C), respectively. AT and OT were moderately correlated with RT (r = 0.70 and r = 0.64, respectively). Gender (P = 0.02) and coat length (P = 0.03) had a significant influence on results. No effect of dehydration, body condition, analgesia, age, reproductive status, or operator experience was observed (P > 0.05).


AT and to a lesser extent OT are reliable, less stressful alternatives to estimate RT in dogs. Further studies are needed to evaluate these techniques in hyperthermic dogs, and to evaluate the use of AT and OT as monitoring tools in intensive care patients.