Dog lying down with a blanket

Caring For A Sick Dog: The Dos (And The Don'ts)

Dogs are wonderful creatures. They make the best pets due to their empathetic nature and love for companionship. In addition to this, dogs are very helpful. They can act as guards, assist in hunting or even provide support to the differently-abled. 

This explains why 34% of UK households kept dogs as pets, according to the 2022 statistics. Dogs are simply that special. 

This is why it can be very hard when you find out that your lovable pet is sick. Many pet owners need to know the dos and don't of caring for sick dogs. It can be daunting, but with the right information, you and your dog can navigate difficult times together. 

How To Tell Your Dog Is Sick  

It is important to be aware of your dog's wellbeing. Some conditions may not have severe symptoms until the disease has progressed. So, it is recommended that you pay close attention to your dog's habits, behaviors, and likes and dislikes. 

Dogs prefer having a routine and are particular about their habitual behavior. This is why if you notice that your dog's behavior is out of character, even if it's insignificant, be sure to investigate. Their behavior change is a way of communicating that something is off. 

The most common sign of sickness in dogs is a change in appetite. Appetite decreases, and the foods your dog usually like do not invoke much pleasure. As a result of this, your dog may experience weight loss. 

You may also notice a bad odor from your dog despite maintaining a good grooming routine. Lack of energy and eagerness to play or interact are telltale signs of sickness. Along with this, unexplained changes in mood, increased aggressiveness, and vocalization of discomfort are also very obvious ways dogs communicate discomfort and illness. 

In cases of digestive issues or kidney problems, there is a change in the pattern in which your dog relieves itself. It is easy to tell when your dog is not feeling their usual self.  

How To Properly Care For A Sick Dog  

Once you are sure your dog is sick, here are the necessary steps you need to take: 

Make An Appointment With The Vet  

That is right, do not try to diagnose what is wrong with your dog, and do not try to give them any treatment you may think will help. Get the earliest appointment you can with your dog's regular vet.  

Take your earliest appointment so your dog can get checked as soon as possible. A proper diagnosis is based on thoroughly examining your dog's body. The right treatment can begin once the correct diagnosis is completed.  

Make Sure Your Dog Is Hydrated  

Sickness can make your dog avoid food and water. This is especially the case with, but not limited to, problems with the digestive system. However, you need to understand how important water is for your dog.  

If your dog does not get enough water, it can lead to dehydration. This may further compound the underlying problem your dog is suffering from. A good rule of thumb is to give your dog an ounce of water for a pound of weight every day. This means if your dog weighs 20 pounds, it should at least be drinking 20 ounces of water daily. 

Make Your Dog Eat Food  

Sickness adversely impacts appetite, and some dogs stop eating due to the discomfort they experience. While it is difficult, you must feed your dog. Expecting your dog to consume as many calories as they normally do is unrealistic. However, getting them to eat as much as possible would be best.  

Food provides critical nutrients, energy, and strength needed to combat disease. It is difficult to force your dog to eat food, but sometimes it is necessary. Try different flavors or textures. You could cook a healthy meal at home or replace wet food, which is easier to digest, instead of dry food.  

Groom Your Dog  

No matter how your dog feels, grooming always positively affects their health and mood. Regular grooming helps to maintain good hygiene and prevent additional issues like parasite infestation.  

Most of all, grooming is a bonding experience. You can ease your dog's discomfort and pain by gently giving them a massage or brushing their coat. It is a way to comfort and communicate that you are there for them. 

Encourage Activity And Playtime  

Dogs become introverted and avoid contact when they get sick. Some dogs hide, and most get extremely lazy. It is normal for a sick dog to spend the entire day lying down. Even bunting dogs like Dachshunds, who spend 15 to 16 hours each day sleeping, will sleep even more and lack the energy to do anything. 

Try to get your dog to play with you. Even if it is in a limited capacity, being active is good for their health. It will also act as a distraction from their condition. Do not just leave your dog alone; give them your time and company. Yes, your dog will prefer to be alone, but that is unproductive. 

Avoid Social Contact  

While giving your dog company is desirable, taking them outside is not recommended. This is especially true if your dog is suffering from an infectious illness. Doing so may put other dogs at risk of getting the disease. So, it is better to stay indoors.  

The most you can do is take your dog outside where you know there won't be any other pets. You do not want to endanger the well-being of other animals.  

Get Expert Opinion  

Every breed of dog responds differently to getting sick. This means that they may need to be grated a certain way depending on the breed of dog in question. Aside from getting expert medical opinions from your dog's vet, you can ask for specialist advice from breeders. If you own a Dachshund, you get advice from Dachshund breeders.  

These experts will help you better understand your dog's emotions and actions. Once you understand the situation better, you can respond in a way that is appropriate and productive. 

Be There For Your Dog  

Be present and try to assist them in every way you can. Sometimes small things like caressing your dog to sleep or brushing their coat will help to comfort them. 

Dogs especially suffer from unexpected bowel movements, so do not make them feel they have done something wrong. Be compassionate and help them get clean. This will prevent your dog from feeling embarrassed and ashamed. You do not want to make your already sick dog feel bad.  

Fighting Against An Illness  

If your dog falls ill, which is quite common, it is time to fight back as a team. You need to support your dog every step of the way. Be caring and compassionate as well as assertive when the need arises. Sometimes the need of the times is some tough love.  

No matter what hour the dog may be suffering, be it a temporary or chronic condition, it is truly the time to show your dog what they mean to you. You will be required to display a lot of patience; that is the nature of being a pet parent. Most of all, treat your dog like you would treat your child. 

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