Helping Your Dog Recover From Injury, Illness or Surgery - Dog Training Tips

Whether your dog is recovering from an injury, illness or surgery, it is important to look after his needs, ensure he has time and space to recuperate, and follow the directions given to you by your veterinarian. Being a strong leader is sometimes harder for us during this process because we feel sorry for our dogs, but consistent rules and guidance are what our dogs need from us for a safe and speedy recovery.

Your dog will need rest, sleep and peace
During the recovery process, your dog may not have the same energy level as usual and may want to sleep more. This is a normal reaction to illness or surgery and helps your dog conserve energy, mend tissues and reduce the likelihood of further strain on his body. Your role in the healing process is to minimize distractions, such as children playing, visitors, and other pets that could exacerbate an injury further. This may mean keeping him in a separate room, pen or crate and taking him to the bathroom on a leash, or even carrying him out if necessary. If your dog is confined to a crate, give him a toy such as a classic KONG® stuffed with frozen peanut butter or treats to keep him busy and entertained.

If he is separated from the normal family routine, help him to not feel excluded by recording the daily sounds he is accustomed to and playing them back to him on a CD: talking, getting meals ready, making coffee, opening and closing doors. You could also play some calming music to help him relax.

Medical needs
Spend time with your dog on a daily basis stroking and gently grooming him, looking for any changes in his skin or coat, unusual discharges or swelling from the injury. Check with your veterinarian to see if gentle massage is OK. This can increase circulation to any wounds and help in the healing process. Monitor his weight and notify your veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences any vomiting or diarrhea. Make sure that you strictly follow the guidelines provided by your veterinarian when giving any medication to your dog, including completing the prescription entirely.

Dressings
Bandages, splints, casts or other dressings may be required to help stabilize a healing fracture or surgical procedure and protect the wound from infection. Dressings can also provide protection from your dog's natural tendency to lick a wound. If your dog continually licks at or attempts to remove the dressing, distract him with a toy or treat, or consider a taste deterrent such as Grannick's® Bitter Apple.

Helping your dog get back to normal
Once you receive the go-ahead from your veterinarian, it is time to give your dog the confidence that he can return to his normal routine. Be patient during this process, which can take up to two weeks.

Walking is a great way for you and your dog to reconnect. Twice daily outings, perhaps to his favorite place, will have him feeling better in no time.

The content of this article has been reviewed and approved by the highly qualified doctors on the Bark Busters Veterinary Advisory Council.

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