How To Treat a Sick Dog? Everything You Need to Know

Having a sick dog might leave you feeling helpless. While there is no alternative to veterinary treatment, there are certain things you can do at home to make your pet feel better. Besides knowing the symptoms of common ailments, knowing when to seek expert care may help your dog live a longer, happier life.

How Long Will It Take to Treat a Sick Dog? 

The recovery of a sick dog will depend upon the severity of the illness. However, intensive care and generosity can help the dog recover faster. Ensure they get enough rest after recovering.  

Tools Needed to Treat a Sick Dog 

Tools that are necessary to use while your dog is sick: 

Frisco Solid Nylon Dog Leash
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Buckle Nylon Martingale Dog Collar
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Self-Warming Pad
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Animal Oral Syringe & Medicine Dropper
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Common Dog Illness Which Should Be Ruled Out

There are several dog illnesses that must be diagnosed and ruled out initially. However, here are a few common health issues that we can witness: 

  • Intestinal Parasites: Intestinal parasites such as heartworms and ringworms are widespread in dogs. Worms may infect your dog in various ways, including eating contaminated excrement of animals or being bitten by an infected flea. Pregnant dogs that are infected can potentially transfer worms to their puppies in the womb. 

If your dog is frequently vomiting, has diarrhea, or is losing weight while eating regularly, this might be a symptom of intestinal parasites. 

If your dog has worms, several over-the-counter treatments are available, or you may seek advice from your veterinarian. 

  • Parvovirus: Another unpleasant sickness that dogs can get by ingesting infected excrement is parvovirus. It would be best if you vaccinate your dog to prevent the disease from taking effect. 

This virus frequently causes bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and fatigue. It is very infectious and is deadly. If your dog does have parvovirus, treat the pet immediately. 

  • Kennel Cough: Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a contagious respiratory ailment that your dog can contract when staying around other dogs, such as in a kennel or a dog park. Symptoms include “honking” cough,  runny nose, and sneezing. 

Antibiotics prescribed by the veterinarian can alleviate kennel cough. You should also keep your sick dog away from other dogs so that the pet does not spread the illness.  

  • Canine Diabetes: Dogs can acquire “diabetes,” which cannot be healed but can be effectively controlled if treated immediately.   

Your vet will provide a diet chart, exercise routines, and insulin shots if needed. 

Steps Needed to Treat a Sick Dog 

Here are 8 steps that you must follow to treat your sick dog: 

Method 1: Recognize the Symptoms 

  • Monitor dog’s regular activities: Keep a journal of when your dog eliminates. Track his symptoms, if he has any. Record when he eats and drinks. It can be useful to your veterinarian while diagnosing your dog’s ailment.
  • Seek vet attention for certain symptoms: Several severe symptoms require immediate medical attention. Never wait for the signs and call your vet right away: 
  • Excessive bleeding 
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Seizures 
  • Broken bones 
  • Breathing issues 
  • Unable to urinate 
  • Ingestion of external object 
  • Inflammation 

Method 2: Treat Illness at Home 

  • Hold on to food if your dog has diarrhea and is vomiting: If the predominant symptoms are vomiting or diarrhea, you can restrict all meals for up to 24 hours in dogs older than 6 months who were previously healthy.
  • Your dog should have access to water: Never deprive a sick dog of water unless he vomits. If this occurs, get guidance from your veterinarian. 
  • Introduce a bland diet for 1-2 days: You can slowly add a bland diet for 1-2 days after withholding food for 24 hours. A dull diet for a dog consists of one part readily digestible protein and two parts digestible carbohydrate.
  • Limit your dog’s exercise: Limit the activity and playtime of your dog to ensure he gets enough rest. Allow him to relieve himself on a leash, but do not allow him to play while he is sick. This is especially crucial if he limps. 
  • Monitor dog’s urine and stool: Keep track of how much your dog defecates and urinates when he is sick. If you typically let him out on his own, use a leash when he’s sick so that you can keep track of how much he urinates or defecates.
  • Monitor dog’s symptoms closely: Ensure to keep an eye on your dog if the symptoms worsen. If you leave the house, arrange for someone to check on your dog every two hours. 
  • Call your vet: If you are unclear about your dog’s symptoms or if he appears to be getting worse, consult your veterinarian. 

Method 3: Make a Comfortable Space For your Dog 

  • Keep your dog inside: Do not leave the dog unattended outside. The dog may have difficulty controlling its temperature, and you will be unable to monitor it for any changes in symptoms closely.
  • Make a comfortable bed: Place a dog bed with blankets in a location where you can readily and regularly check on your dog. Choose blankets with your smell on them to make your dog feel more at ease.
  • Keep your house quiet: Keep the noises and lighting low when your dog is ill. Your dog will enjoy a similar setting. In addition to this, visitors and noise from vacuums, children, and television should be kept to a minimum. This will help your dog to obtain some much-needed relaxation.
  • Isolate your sick dog from other dogs: Keeping your ill dog apart from other dogs is a good idea. This will aid in the prevention of disease spread. This peaceful period will also allow your dog to rest. 

Method 4: Keep Your Dog in a Safe Environment 

  • Do not feed human food: Food that is safe for ‘people’ can be fatal to dogs. Products like xylitol are particularly hazardous to dogs. You can find this in sugar-free meals and dental care products. Onions, garlic, ginger, chocolates, avocados, grapes, raisins, alcohol, and bread dough are toxic for dogs. 
  • Do not provide human medications: Never provide human medication to your dog if you have not verified with your veterinarian. These medicines can be harmful to dogs and can exacerbate diseases.
  • Do not keep any toxic substances in your house: Keep hazardous materials out of his reach. Pesticides, antifreeze, fertilizers, prescription medicines, insecticides, and other substances fall into this category. These things are potentially harmful to dogs and can be toxic. 

Method 5: Post-Operative Care 

If your dog has had surgery, you will almost certainly need to provide some at-home care. 

  • If your dog’s operation involved using an anesthetic, it might take some time for them to recover. Keep an eye on your dog’s balance and provide a calm and pleasant area for them to relax. While your dog recovers from the effects of anesthesia, you may need to assist them in walking. 
  • Following surgery, your veterinarian may restrict your dog’s activity for many days or weeks. Failure to properly follow your veterinarian’s recommendations is a common cause of post-surgery problems.
  • Depending on the type of surgery performed on your dog, your vet will prescribe drugs such as pain relievers, ointments, or drops. Knowing and understanding the exact dosage and how to give the medicine is crucial.
  • Feeding, washing, cleaning wounds, changing dressings, and post-op gear like Elizabethan collars must all be done according to your veterinarian’s recommendations. Following surgery, many veterinarians give pet parents an information sheet to refer to. 

Method 6: During Tummy Upset 

Sick dogs are more prone to stomach upsets, but there are a few things you can do to help your dog prevent this unpleasant side effect. 

  • If your veterinarian has suggested a diet for your ill dog, feed it apart from other pets so that it does not have access to the usual food.
  • Ensure that everyone in the family is aware of your dog’s dietary limitations and that even tiny amounts of treats or other food might upset your dog’s stomach.
  • An upset stomach might result from eating or drinking too quickly. Observe your dog’s intake, and if you see that they aren’t slowing down, divide their food and water into smaller portions. 

Method 7: If Your Dog has Sore Skin 

  • Licking is bad for wounds and sores since it aggravates them. Use a buster or Elizabethan collar to prevent licking. Prevent scratching using a sock on the dog’s feet or a T-shirt on the dog’s body. Bathing in cool salt water (a teaspoon of salt to a pint of water) or applying an ice pack, witch hazel, or Chamomile lotion on the affected area may provide relief until you can get to the vet. However, the most beneficial flea preventative treatments are available from your veterinarian. 

Method 8: If Your Dog Has Arthritis 

  • Arthritic pets require a comfortable bed as well as aid in getting up and downstairs. It may be beneficial to massage muscles at the start of the day. If your pet is having a terrible day, give them some time to rest. Allow your dog to go to the bathroom for no more than a few minutes. Consider purchasing a heating pad to use throughout the winter. Never feed your dog, human pain relievers or arthritis medicine – some are toxic to dogs. Use only the medications prescribed by your veterinarian. “Alternative” health solutions are unlikely to assist on their own, and you should consider their usage with your veterinarian. 

Pro tips: Never force your dog to do things that he dislikes when he is sick.  

Diagnosis and Treatment 

As illness symptoms are not often evident, your veterinarian may suggest preventive care tests as part of your dog’s yearly visit. 

The following are frequently included in preventive care testing: 

  • Chemistry and electrolyte testing assesses the internal organ function and assures your dog is not exhausted or struggling from an electrolyte imbalance.
  • A test is done to check whether your dog is suffering from any worm infections.
  • Blood count to eliminate blood-related health problems.
  • Urine tests are used to check for urinary tract infections and other diseases and assess the kidneys’ ability to concentrate urine.
  • A thyroid test is done to assess if the thyroid gland is producing little thyroid hormones. 
  • ECG to eliminate underlying heart issues.  

What Food to Feed Your Sick Dog? 

When your dog is sick, certain meals are more appealing and easier on the stomach, which you may try feeding them. 

  • Baby Food: Dogs digest baby food easily, and it is also delicious for them. It can also be nourishing. Look for meat-based infant meals that do not contain onion or garlic. Chicken, lamb, or turkey are all viable alternatives.
  • Pumpkin: Pumpkin is beneficial to your dog’s health. This is high in fiber and includes various vitamins like iron, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, etc. Serve pumpkin without seasoning. 
  • Shredded Chicken: Shredded chicken is simple for dogs with digestive problems to eat. Dogs adore chicken as long as it is unseasoned. 
  • Chicken and Bone Broth: It is easy to digest. If an unsettled stomach is causing your pet loss of appetite, this may be an excellent dish to try. 

Bone broth is light and nourishing, and it soothes an upset stomach. If your dog hasn’t been eating and has a reduced appetite, bone broth can be an excellent method to provide some nutrients.

How to prepare chicken broth and bone broth?

How to Feed a Sick Dog? 

There are numerous approaches you may take to get your dog to eat. Here we have outlined a method: 

  • Wait: If your dog refuses to eat, the first approach is to give them some time. Dogs may go for many days without eating. Ensure your dog has access to water.
  • Change dry food brands: If you’re having trouble persuading your dog to consume dry food, try a different brand. You may also try mixing some wet food, which may increase your dog’s appetite.
  • Use a syringe: Force-feeding with a syringe is a more extreme procedure. Therefore, do it only if all other options have failed. It is best to consult with a veterinarian before doing this, as it must be done correctly or will have serious health consequences.
  • Appetite Stimulant: If your dog has been denied food for a long time, or if they have a medical condition that causes appetite suppression, your veterinarian can prescribe a therapeutic appetite stimulant. Some stimulants lessen sickness, and others imitate the hormone that causes your dog to be hungry. So, you and your doctor should first figure out why your dog isn’t eating.
  • Grass: If your dog refuses to eat its regular food but insists on eating grass, allow them. Eating grass may cause your dog to vomit, which may be beneficial. If vomiting would relieve your dog from feeling unwell, your dog’s instincts may be prompting it to eat grass. However, make sure your dog stays hydrated.
  • Hand Feed: Try hand-feeding your dog. This can soothe your sick dog and encourage him to eat. This procedure may be lengthy, but your dog would start eating after you’ve hand-fed them a couple of pieces. 

Pro tips: Being gentle can help your dog get well soon.  

Final Thoughts 

Treating a sick dog necessitates a lot of attention. Be gentle to your dog since it is essential to keep your dog mentally healthy and happy, which will help in recovering faster. 

It is always best to seek vet help before treating at home. Follow the vet’s recommendation to treat your sick dog. Give enough rest to your dog during and after the illness.  

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