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3 Professional Hacks to Care for a Sick Dog at Home


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A sick pet is guaranteed to make you feel helpless. But in truth, with a professional approach to their care, you can help the dog through it.


Our aim is to give you the confidence to care for your dog at home in a way that would make a vet tech proud. Here are insider tips used by vets and their support staff, when nursing sick patients.


A top tip is to recognize if the patient gets worse and then call for help. To take the worry out of doing this, make notes. This doesn't have to be complex, a sheet of paper for each day will do.


Divide the page into columns for appetite, toileting, and general demeanor. Then jot down observations over the day. Now you don't have to rely on memory, but can say "Yesterday he ate half a can, today he's eaten a whole tin" or "Yesterday, his poop was solid, today it's runny". Keeping records is an important way vet hospitals keep tabs on their inpatients.


OK, so now let's look at how the professionals care for a sick dog and what you can do at home.


#1: General Nursing


A sick dog feels lousy, but you can help. Here's how:

  • Bedding: For the incapacitated pet, provide thick bedding. If they're not moving much, turn the dog to lie on the opposite side, every hour. This prevents pressure sores.

  • Puppy pads: If the dog is leaking urine or feces, then lay them on top of thick bedding topped with a puppy pad. The latter wicks discharges away from the body. Change the pad as soon as it becomes soiled.

  • Bathing: Use a clean damp face cloth or disposable towels to immediately wipe away urine or fecal soiling from the fur and skin. Pat the area dry.

  • Medication: At the start of each day, write down when the meds are due with a check box alongside. Set an alarm to remind you, then tick the med off once it's given.

  • Dressings: Check dressing regularly and change them immediately they become wet or soiled.

  • Monitoring: Over the day, write down your observations. It might be, "Wagged tail when offered biscuit", or "No interest in food." Don't forget, if there's an obvious worsening of their condition, phone the vet for advice

  • Grooming: Last but not least, gently brush the dog each day. This helps them feel better.


#2: Feeding


Follow any specific directions given by the vet (such as not to give food.) If food is allowed but the dog's appetite is poor, here's what to do.

  • Hand feed: A little one-to-one attention goes a long way

  • Give wet food: Wet food is more appetizing

  • Variety: Offer something other than their regular food.

  • Warm the food: Warming it slightly can make it more tasty.

  • Dab some on his nose: Sometimes a lick is all it takes to kick start that appetite

  • Fresh: Don't leave food out beside them to go stale. Instead offer small amounts regularly

  • Syringe feeding: Speak to your vet about whether syringe feeding a special recovery diet is appropriate.

In addition, make sure the dog is drinking. Put a water bowl immediately beside their bed so they don't have to get up to drink.


#3: Toileting


What goes in ….must come out!

  • Puppy pads: As already mentioned, these are great for bed-bound dogs to keep them clean

  • Regular toilet breaks: Make life as easy as possible for your fur friend. Carry small dogs to their toilet spot, every couple of hours.

  • Assistance: The elderly or infirm may 'hold on' because it's difficult for them to toilet. Create a sling with a bath towel, that you slide underneath their belly to support them as they squat.

  • Protection: Consider using Sudocrem or Vaseline, applied to sore bottoms or urine-soaked skin.


Having a sick dog is unnerving but you can make a difference. By paying close attention to their needs and spotting when things start to slide, you take control. Remember, your vet is there to help, so when in doubt phone for advice. Otherwise, care for them at home like a pro and your dog will bounce back in no time.

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