How to Nurse an Ailing Dog

Having a sick dog is no fun, but our tips can help get him on the fast track to recovery.

Any time your dog needs treatment for a significant health problem, his recovery at home will go faster if he gets lots of tender loving care from you, the most important person in his life. It's up to you to make sure he gets plenty of rest, eats right, takes all his medicine and doesn't get too active too soon.

Start by making sure that he has the perfect place to recover. Put your pup's favorite bed (or get him a new, comfortable bed) in a quiet area away from all the hubbub in your home. This could be in a bedroom, a laundry room or a bathroom that isn't used often. If you have kids in your household, don't let them bother the dog too much. They can go in one at a time for a few minutes each day to sit quietly with him, but no roughhousing or loud sounds until he's feeling better.

To tempt his taste buds, serve your dog's food warm -- or top it with something that smells good, such as chicken or beef broth. Scrambled eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese will also encourage his appetite and be easy on his digestive system. Be sure to check with your vet before supplementing his diet, however, to make sure you aren't offering anything he shouldn't have. Your pooch will need plenty of fresh, cool water as well. Make it easy for him to reach so he'll get enough, and check on both his food and water supply often.

Follow your veterinarian's directions to the letter when it comes to exercise. If your dog is recovering from surgery, especially for a broken bone, it's important that he doesn't overdo it. It's hard to keep a good dog down, but if you want him to recover properly, you'll have to be lovingly firm. This may mean putting your pooch's bed in a crate to keep him confined.

Finally, even if he seems to be recovered, don't stop giving your dog his prescribed medications until they're all gone. If you have any questions about whether to continue, don't hesitate to ask your vet.

Before you take your dog home from the vet or animal hospital, you should also ask for tips on dispensing the medication. On the next page, find out why getting a dog to take pills is often easier said than done.