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Digital Thermometer Issues - What Brand Do You Use?

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  • Digital Thermometer Issues - What Brand Do You Use?

    So far this week I am 0 for 2 on new digital thermometer accuracy. I have bought two this week and both did not register the same temperature as my mercury thermometer or my barn manager's digital one. I bought a Target brand and it measured 1.5 degrees lower and another Walgreen's model that was lower by 1.6 degrees. Barn manager said she bought hers a few years ago at CVS - it doesn't have any name on it and it registers the same as my mercury thermometer.

    I want to use digital as it's quicker and much easier to read at Oh Dark Hundred (before dawn) and is much quicker than waiting three minutes for the mercury one to complete the process. I'm getting frustrated as these two bad ones will need to be exchanged for one that actually works.

    For those of you who have had success using digital would you please share the brand you purchased and did you compare the reading to the mercury thermometer for accuracy?

    Thanks in advance for your time!


    There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness". - Dave Barry

  • #2
    I have a $5 digital I got from VTO. It's "specifically made for horses" (not really sure what the difference is....) but it's been really accurate for me. It also lives in the barn, and it's gone through four winters without the battery draining. It still works like new.


    • #3
      My vet told me that digital thermometers are notoriously inaccurate.

      The key is to document multiple baseline temps on a horse with the same thermometer and then make sure you use the same thermometer when you are checking for a fever or issue. Also, it would be worth getting baseline temps at several time points and repeatedly (i.e., morning, before/after grain, after turnout, etc.).


      • #4
        I have a scientific probe thermometer...let me see if I can find something like it online. looks about like that. Only issue I have with it is that it doesn't beep when it's done. But it's stood up to a whole lot and seems to be more accurate than your typical drugstore digital.


        • #5
          I have a Welch-Allyn that I bought about 15 years ago. Same model as vets and human medical staff use. It has held up great, is incredibly accurate and super fast. I am careful with it, I don't drop it or let it get crapped on or wet, and I store it in a climate-controlled tack room.
          Buy Welch Allyn 01690-200 SureTemp Plus 690 Electronic Thermometer, 4' Cord and Oral Probe with Probe Well: Medical - ? FREE DELIVERY possible on eligible purchases


          • #6
            OP, I'm glad you asked! I've been thinking about getting a digital thermometer, and think I'll spend a little more money than I would in Walmart. Thanks!
            "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019


            • #7
              Originally posted by theresak View Post
              My vet told me that digital thermometers are notoriously inaccurate.

              The key is to document multiple baseline temps on a horse with the same thermometer and then make sure you use the same thermometer when you are checking for a fever or issue. Also, it would be worth getting baseline temps at several time points and repeatedly (i.e., morning, before/after grain, after turnout, etc.).
              Yes, it helps to know what the horses individual 'normal' is.
              When I had to do QT for the state Vet last summer, luckily none of the horses had anything come up, and we had a nice survey of each of their temps over several weeks time.

              OP I am not sure 1* difference would mean I would not use that thermometer.
              The key is to use the same one, so that you are comparing a temp you take when you think something is up, to the 'normal' you've gotten with the same thermometer, as theresak noted.
              Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014



              • #8
                Yes, thanks for posting! i had gotten so fed up with the digitals I tried, that I gave up and sought out mercury. I got one mercury on eBay and another at a tack shop's clearance bin (I felt like I'd won the lottery, and they thought I was nuts).

                My problems with digitals had been dead batteries anytime I wanted to go use them. And one marked specifically for horses had the little rope on the end, which promptly came right off the first time I wanted to use it (just glued on with crappy glue). I never really did much in the way of checking accuracy.

                So this thread is a good reminder to check for those baselines with the thermometers I have, and maybe I"ll try some of these digital suggestions some day if I break one of the two I have.
                I've never understood the insult calling a person a "fruitbat." It's not much of an insult to the person. More often than not, the persons behavior proves it to be more of an insult to the fruitbat!


                • #9
                  Well I learn something new everyday! Today it is that digital thermometers are inaccurate!! I thought I had moved up by going to a digital over my old mercury thermometer. Never thought to test it for accuracy. I got mine at the discount rack of a box store, bright yellow with a duck head on the end. Easy to spot when laid down I thought! I have replaced the battery once, in the 4-5 years I have had it. The duck cost $2.50 on sale. I keep it in the heated tack room, it is not treated roughly, turns itself off if I forget. I have been pretty happy with it.

                  We don't use thermometers much except in spring, while conditioning horses. I use it then to insure horses are cooling internally as well as externally after working them hard.

                  The only time I doubted the reading was on a chilled horse, with sub-normal temp of 97F. He wasn't acting "right" when I brought him in It was cold, sleeting outside, so I figured weather colic because he had never acted like this before. Called the Vet to come, then thought I should get a temp to compare to when Vet took his reading after arrival. Holy Cow, 97F!! Ran to get the mercury after same two readings of the digital, with mercury also reading 97F. I started piling on blankets, heated blanket layers on the horse to warm him up. He had gained a degree when Vet took his temp, did treat him with DSS for colic to be on the safe side.

                  Horse recovered fine, but has since been kept covered with a rainsheet as weather gets cold or wet. No repeat of severe chills, the rainsheet or heavier waterproof blanket holds in body heat, keeps the wind off him. I think DSS treatment kept him from getting colic while his body was dealing with being so badly chilled.

                  I would get another cheap digital, to keep in the first aid boxes if we need one. I do like the speed they read at, no holding it to the light "just right" to read the numbers. Not going to break and have glass laying about.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for your replies.

                    Angela the one+ degree does make a difference as my vet's orders were to give two grams of bute if my horse's temperature was at or above 102 and if it was between his normal and 102 to give one gram.

                    There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness". - Dave Barry


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by INoMrEd View Post
                      Thanks for your replies.

                      Angela the one+ degree does make a difference as my vet's orders were to give two grams of bute if my horse's temperature was at or above 102 and if it was between his normal and 102 to give one gram.
                      But how do you know which one is 'wrong'? Maybe the BOs is not accurate?

                      I would clarify with Vet what to do, because many thermometers will vary, while other conditions will also effect the reading, ie temperature, how warm the horse is [ie he just trotted around before coming in], etc.
                      Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014



                      • Original Poster

                        Hi Angela,

                        My original post probably wasn't clear that I was comparing all the thermometers purchased and the one owned by the barn manager to the trusty mercury model in my first aid kit. I compared the barn manager's digital reading to my mercury thermometer and it measured my horse's temperature exactly the same so I know it's accurate. Digital is so much quicker and easier to read in the wee hours of the morning when it's still dark outside but it's worthless if it is not accurate.

                        Yesterday in my third effort to purchase an accurate digital thermometer I bought this one by Vicks (at Rite Aid):

                        and I'm so happy to report that after comparing the new Vicks model to the mercury thermometer and to the barn manager's it is accurate. And even better news is that my ancient horse Louie (28 years old) has had a normal temperature now for the past 48 hours so all is well!

                        There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness". - Dave Barry