How to take your horse’s temperature

By Wendy Talbot on 07 March 2018

What should your horse’s temperature be? Your horse’s resting temperature should be between 99-101°F / 37.2-38.3°C.

Just like humans, your horse’s temperature may fluctuate within the normal ranges through the day and from day to day. When he is off-colour, he may have a temperature outside of the expected normal ranges. It’s important to be familiar with using a thermometer so that you can take your horse’s temperature efficiently and pick up any first signs of illness quickly.

It’s easiest to use a modern digital thermometer. Choose one that’s designed for livestock and horses as it will be fatter at the holding end so that you can keep a grip and it should have a large digital display, making it quick and easy to read.

How to check your horse’s temperature

Tie up the horse in a calm, safe environment and gently insert the thermometer into the rectum, having first dipped it into a small amount of lubricant such as Vaseline. Hold it there for one minute or until the thermometer beeps. When you have read it, gently clean it with some wet cotton wool.

Watch our video on how to take your horse’s temperature (courtesy of brookfarmstables)

The principal vital signs for horses are temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and mucus membrane colour. Knowing the normal range of your horse’s vital signs and how to take them will help you to monitor his health and can give you an important early warning that something could be wrong. Being familiar with your horse’s normal weight is also important because changes may indicate ill health. Always call your vet immediately if any vital signs are not as expected.

Related articles on how to check your horses vital signs: 

Monitoring your horse’s heart rate



World Horse Welfare

Wormers Direct





Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.

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