When our dogs are sick it can be one of the most demoralizing feelings in the world. At WagWell Box, we know that your dogs are a huge part of your daily lives. From playing with your children, to greeting you when you get home from work, dogs are always there for us.
However, when they are under the weather it can be extremely difficult to know how best to be there for them.
We’ve all looked up our own symptoms online before. You probably know where this is going…
It starts out as an innocent online search query for a stress headache, but by the time you finish looking you are paranoid that you have a rare, incurable brain tumor!
Despite the fact that the Internet is full of conflicting medical advice, and sites that make common aches and pains seem like the end of the world, our dogs can’t communicate the symptoms, making it difficult for us to know what to do to make them well again.
So we’ve put together a 4-step plan to care for your dog when they aren’t feeling well.
Step 1: Be Proactive and Monitor Their Habits
In order to nurse your dog back to health you need to monitor their behavior.
Start by writing down every time they eat (and how much they eat), go to the bathroom, and any symptoms that they exhibit and what time you notice them.
Being vigilant about documenting their habits when they are sick can make it easy to get an accurate diagnosis if their symptoms worsen. This can be helpful to your veterinarian and can help you eliminate misdiagnosis.
It will also help you to understand if your dog is just tired, injured, or actually ill. This is crucial in order to make sure that you aren’t wasting money on costly vet visits, or taking off work to stay home with your dog.
Step 2: Find the Right Diet for Your Dog
During periods of upset stomach, tummy trouble, and even diarrhea and vomiting, you need to be diligent about sticking to a strict diet for your dog. Every dog will be a little different in what their stomach will be able to tolerate, so plan to try a few different foods and see what they respond well to.
The most important thing to remember is that if something works--stick to it!
You don’t want to introduce a lot of new foods to your dog’s diet or you could risk making them even more queasy.
Step 3: Don’t Treat Them Like You Would Treat Yourself
Healthy treats and snacks that you would eat to load up on antioxidants after a cold or flu, could be potentially dangerous for your dog’s health. Giving your dog snacks that are healthy may seem as simple as taking some fruit from the fruit bowl. However healthy treats also have a dark side for animals.
You will want to stay clear of feeding your dog fruits such as: avocados, grapes, and citrus fruits. These can be highly acidic, which will only cause more indigestion and upset stomach.
Additionally, try to avoid feeding them a lot of treats, fats and meats. You want to keep their diet light and sufficient, rather than heavy.
Try to limit the amount of processed food that you are feeding your dog--unless it is the only thing that they will eat during their illness.
Step 4: Try to Stick to the Following Guidelines
White or brown rice is one of the best foods that you can feed your dog.
It will coat their stomach and help to fill them up. It will also counteract any stomach acids that are making them feel ill.
Next, shred some thoroughly boiled chicken as a source of protein. The protein will give them energy and help them to combat their illness.
Do not add any seasonings, spices, or oils to the chicken. Keeping it natural will help to ensure that your dog doesn’t have a negative reaction.
Keep all food bland, and avoid overfeeding your dog. Even if they haven’t eaten much, you don’t want to give them a lot of calories until their body has healed and can properly digest them.
Watch for dehydration. If your dog has been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea make sure that they stay properly hydrated. However, do not let your dog drink too much all at once. Dogs love to drink a lot of water at a time and store it for later.
By limiting their fluid intake you can be sure that they won’t make themselves feel even worse by trying to make up all their lost fluids at once.
Another helpful alternative to regular food (that also will hydrate them) is bone broth. Cooking some bone broth can replenish their vitamins and minerals and give them a healthy meal. However, you will need to make sure that you do not feed your dog any of the bones. Large bones can splinter after being cooked and can make for a very dangerous treat for your dog.
Probiotics such as those found in greek yogurt can be good for your dog. However, make sure that you watch their reactions and add this into their diet very gradually.
Another healthy alternative if your dog has diarrhea is to add a few tablespoons of pumpkin into their food. This adds fiber and can help harden stool so that they aren’t losing as much fluid.
If they are really dehydrated, you can try feeding your dog some Baby Food and have them drink some Pedialyte for the electrolyte content. Even though these are technically for people, they can have a positive effect on your dog’s overall health.
Next time your dog is under the weather, try these 4-steps to help them feel better! If these don’t work, it’s best to seek the advice of a trusted local veterinarian.