How do I Care for a Sick Dog?

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  • Written By: K. K. Lowen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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You may need to perform a variety of different tasks to care for a sick dog. Dogs are susceptible to a wide range of illnesses, and different problems require different methods of care. Before trying to help your dog, you may need to take it to the veterinarian to find out exactly what the animal’s health issue is. Making sure that your pet eats enough and does not become dehydrated is very important as well.

The most important thing you can do for a sick dog is to take them to a veterinarian. A veterinarian can diagnose a dog’s condition, prescribe medication if necessary, and tell you what you need to do to make your dog better. Make sure to let the veterinarian know all the symptoms you have noticed. When you first notice that a dog is not feeling well or begins to act abnormally, you may want to write down or mentally note the symptoms in the order they appeared.

Keeping the dog hydrated is very important. Without drinking enough water, the animal may become dehydrated, causing its condition to worsen. If a dog becomes dehydrated, its mouth will become dry. To avoid severe dehydration, you should take your dog to a veterinarian if it stops drinking liquids for a long period of time.


When sick, a dog may not want to eat. If the dog refuses its normal food, you can attempt to give it a special treat or foods that it normally does not eat. Getting a dog to eat while sick may help them feel better and aid in the healing process.

If the dog has been coughing or has breathing difficulties, it may be a sign of a respiratory issue. Placing a humidifier near the sick dog may help the animal feel better. If the animal has severe breathing troubles it may be a sign of a respiratory infection, and the dog immediately should be taken to veterinarian.

You will need to keep your sick dog in a warm, dry area. Try to keep the space clean, and make the dog as comfortable as possible. While the dog is healing, do your best to keep the dog’s surroundings calm and peaceful so that you do not to disturb it too much. Give the dog as much attention as required by the situation.

Caring for a sick dog may involve troubleshooting. If the animal has been vomiting or has diarrhea, it may be a signal that it needs a change in its diet. For a lethargic dog, you can try giving it more fresh air. Massaging an elderly dog's muscles may ease arthritis pain and allow it to run around more.

You should not give a dog any medication without first consulting a veterinarian or other canine specialist. If a veterinarian prescribes medication for your sick dog, make sure to follow all instructions. Giving your pet too much or too little could worsen its condition. Herbal remedies and other over-the-counter drugs may be helpful, but a veterinarian will be able to tell you if they are right for your dog.


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Post 3

@Iluviaporos - As long as you are careful not to overreact to every little sneeze. A lot of owners tend to be a little bit too precious over their dog and the poor thing can't tell them whether or not it is actually feel as sick as they imagine it to be.

Sickness in dogs isn't always going to be fatal. Sometimes it is as simple as a thorn in their foot, or a bit of a flu. Not the kind of thing that you automatically need to take to a vet.

Post 2

@croydon - Yeah, even without the normal sick dog symptoms, a puppy might just go off their food or water for a while and end up dehydrated. So make sure you monitor what they are eating and drinking as much as possible.

The best way to make sure your dog isn't getting sick, though, is to just know your dog as well as you can. A lot of dogs won't show any really obvious sign of sickness until it's already pretty bad. If you notice that your dog has a slight limp, or is maybe a little bit depressed or something like that, it's definitely worth going to get them a checkup.

Post 1

I'll repeat what they say in the article because it really is the most important thing for you to do. Make sure your dog stays hydrated. If your sick dog is vomiting or has diarrhea they are probably losing fluids quite rapidly and might not realize they are thirsty. Remember that even if you've got them inside, the air conditioning might be dehydrating them.

This is even more urgent in puppies. If you can't get any fluids into your pup, you should get them to an emergency vet so they can give them a saline injection. Without this kind of help, a dehydrated dog might die quite quickly.

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