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When Can Puppies Regulate Body Temperature?

Have you recently brought home a young puppy? Then you are going to be mindful, perhaps even a little anxious, about ensuring they have everything that they need. That they are comfortable, and more still, kept safe. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to keeping them at the right temperature. So it naturally follows to question when they can start adapting to the temperature around them; when its either too hot or too cold. Well, here is everything you are going to want to know.

So, when can puppies regulate their body temperature? Most puppies can regulate their body temperature from around seven weeks of age, with the process beginning weeks prior. Puppies start to develop the shiver reflex (the first one to help regulate body temperature) at around two to three weeks old.

Now consider that most puppies are adopted around the ages of 8-12 weeks.

So, chances are by the time you get your puppy they are well on their way to being able to control their own body temperature.

That doesn’t mean you should pay little attention to their needs though.

They still may need support.

Besides, you could be here because you are breeding pups for the first time, and you have a litter with puppies much younger than this age.

Then there are the question involving ideal body temperature, how to check body temperature and so on.

So let’s continue to delve into it!

What Is A Puppy’s Ideal Body Temperature?

A puppy’s ideal body temperature will range from 99.5 to 102.5 degrees F (37.5 to 39.1 degrees C), depending on his age. When they are born, their body temperature will be lower: from 94 to 97 degrees F (34.4 to 36.1 degrees C).

If Your Puppy Is Too Warm

Sometimes puppies can get overheated, which can be dangerous to all dogs, but especially for puppies.

The most common signs of a fever in dogs are:

  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Red eyes
  • Lack of energy or lethargy
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Warm, dry nose

If your puppy has a fever (temperatures over 103 degrees F or 39.4 degrees C), you can try applying a cool, wet cloth to his paws and ears.

Make sure the cloth is cool but not ice-cold.

If your puppy has a high fever (temperature of 106 degrees F or 41.1 degrees C), get him to a vet as soon as possible to determine the cause.

If Your Puppy Is Too Cold

If your puppy is too cold, you’ll want to know as soon as possible since this can have long-term or even fatal consequences.

Sometimes a puppy will manage to wiggle away from his siblings or his mother (or a heat lamp), which can put him at risk of hypothermia.

Cold puppies won’t be able to nurse or digest the food even if they could eat.

The circulatory and respiratory systems stop working, and their heart rates drop, leading to a quick and fatal collapse.

The safest way to warm your puppy is using your body heat (or that of his mother). You don’t want to warm him too quickly, as that could cause him to go into shock. Warm him slowly over the course of an hour.

Note: Sometimes, a sudden injury can be the cause of a drop in temperature caused by shock. Check your puppy to see if he has an injury or is in pain. If you aren’t sure, take him to the vet to be on the safe side.

How Do You Check A Puppy’s Temperature?

The most accurate and recommended way of checking a puppy’s temperature is via an anal thermometer.

Puppies are very fragile, so it’s essential to take extra care when checking a puppy’s temperature.

You will need an anal thermometer, as this is the most accurate way to know for sure your puppy’s temperature.

Here are the steps for accurately and gently checking a puppy’s temperature:

  1. Using baby oil, petroleum jelly, or mineral oil, lubricate the thermometer
  2. Check that your puppy is relaxed and comfortable. If you need to distract him, give him a favorite toy or anything else you think will do the trick
  3. Lift your puppy’s tail with one hand so that you can see his anus. Gently insert the thermometer using your other hand, making sure it goes into his anus about one inch
  4. Talk to your puppy calmly to reassure him throughout this procedure. Stroke him gently to provide comfort
  5. Keep hold of the thermometer for at least one minute. Anything less and you won’t get an accurate reading
  6. Once the thermometer has registered your puppy’s temperature, record the result and wipe the thermometer clean
  7. Use rubbing alcohol to disinfect the thermometer, ready for next time

Note: You’ll want to make sure your puppy is developing his ability to control his body temperature. Therefore, it’s essential to take his temperature at seven weeks. After that, take his temperature often to make sure it is rising steadily to reach adult dog levels.

When Can Puppies Control Their Own Temperature?

Puppies can usually control their own temperature by seven weeks of age, though some may take a week or two longer. It’s useful to know the signs that your puppy can control his body temperature for your peace of mind.

How Dogs Control Body Temperature

Warm-blooded animals like dogs control their body temperature through a center for thermal regulation located in the hypothalamus.

As your puppy gets older, his body will develop so that the sweat glands in his paws and his ability to pant will help him cool down when needed.

In addition, your puppy’s fur will help keep him warm.

The Ideal Ambient Temperature For Puppies

In addition to a puppy’s ideal body temperature (see above), the perfect ambient temperature for newborn puppies is 85 to 90 degrees F (29.4 to 32.2 degrees C).

You can reduce the temperature to 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C) after seven to ten days.

After about four weeks, you can reduce it again to 72 degrees F (22.2 degrees C).

By the time your puppies are seven weeks old, they should be able to regulate their own body temperatures.

Signs Your Puppy Can Control His Body Temperature

Here’s how you can tell that your puppy is controlling his body temperature on his own:

  • He starts to sleep on his own without needing to cuddle next to his mother for warmth
  • He isn’t sleeping right next to his siblings unless he wants cuddles
  • He is happy and content, with no whining for attention or seeking his mom’s body heat
  • He is gaining weight regularly and at the correct pace for each stage of his life

How Do You Regulate A Puppy’s Temperature?

You can help your puppy regulate his body temperature by encouraging him to cuddle with his family or using a warm room or a heat lamp. Sometimes, though, a puppy may struggle to develop appropriately, in which case you’ll want to know the signs to look out for.

Encourage Him To Cuddle His Family

Puppies will usually instinctively seek out the warmth of their mother and/or siblings when they’re young.

In the first few weeks of your puppy’s life, you should see him snuggling up to his littermates and his mom for most of the time.

Keep the Room Warm

Your puppy’s mom will need a break, even if it’s just to go outside to go to the toilet, and in those moments, you’ll want to know the puppies will stay warm.

It’s all too easy for young puppies to catch a chill, so make sure the room is suitably warm.

The optimum temperature for a room for puppies is between 85 to 90 degrees F (29.4 to 32.2 degrees C).

Make sure the room is free from drafts and is well-ventilated.

Use a Heat Lamp

Heat lamps can be very useful for young puppies to help them stay warm.

Test to check for variables such as the distance away from the box (usually five to six feet is perfect).

To make sure your heat lamp is placed correctly, put a thermostat in low to the ground (before the puppies are born) and adjust the height of the lamp until the box temperature reaches the ideal of a steady 85 to 90 degrees F (29.4 to 32.2 degrees C).

How To Know If Your Puppy Is Struggling To Regulate Body Temperature

There are several ways to tell if your puppy is having trouble regulating his body temperature.

Snuggling Close

If your puppy is attempting to snuggle close to his mom all of the time, especially at eight to nine weeks old, he may be struggling to keep warm.

Check if your puppy is staying close throughout the day rather than periodically.

Puppies will cling to their mothers to stay warm, especially if they are having trouble regulating their body temperature.

Looking To Keep Warm In Other Ways

Sometimes puppies will seek warmth in other ways apart from being close to their mother.

If your puppy is seven to nine weeks old and he is looking to keep warm from his siblings or from another heat source such as a radiator, he may be having difficulty.

He may not be developing well, or he may have an underlying health problem.

His Mom Is Shielding Him

Mothers will curl around their puppies to try and protect them from the cold. If you see the mother repeatedly doing this, your puppies need more warmth.

Puppies Sleeping Away From Each Other

It isn’t always that your puppies are too cold: sometimes, they are too warm.

If puppies are too warm, you’ll see them sleeping far away from each other.

How To Know Your Puppy Is Comfortable

Puppies who are comfortable will snuggle up to each other to sleep, but they won’t necessarily form a pile (they pile up on each other if they’re too cold).

If your puppy is kept alone, they should not show any signs of shivering, their mouth will likely be partially open, their ears relaxed and they will have a general relaxed posture.


If your puppy measures between 99.5 to 102.5 degrees F (37.5 to 39.1 degrees C) and is kept in an ambient temperature of between 85 to 90 degrees F (29.4 to 32.2 degrees C); you’re doing something right.

These conditions are very much considered optimal.

The age of your pup, and their general health status, will largely dictate whether they can regulate their temperature to stay within this range.

Otherwise, you may have to proactively step in to help them out. At least in the beginning.

But there will be visible signs that you need to do so too.

In time, as your puppy ages and develops, it will become much less dependent.

If you are in doubt, do consider contacting a vet.  

Related Questions

Can 2 week old puppies regulate their body temperature?

2-week old puppies cannot regulate their body temperature. It isn’t until week 7 that they will be able to do so.

Can 3 week old puppies regulate their body temperature?

3-week old puppies cannot regulate their body temperature. It isn’t until week 7 that they will be able to do so.

What is a high temperature for a puppy?

A temperature of more than 103° F (39° C) is considered a high temperature for a puppy and is often diagnosed as a fever.

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