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How to nurse a dog back to health

At times, shelters and animal groups often see visibly malnourished and sick dogs. (Cases where the ratio of muscle mass to body fat is severely mismatched and significant loss considered emaciation). We often want to help stray dogs get back to health, but we don’t properly care for them. When I was in college, I joined the homeless animal rescue group organized by the university. I was lucky to learn about dog care—this knowledge of dog care applicable to rescuing stray dogs and pets at home.

What is Malnourishment?

According to my experience working in a stray animal rescue group, most stray dogs suffer malnutrition. We need to understand what malnutrition is before we can fundamentally help dogs get back to health.  A dog is defined as malnourished when it has lost more than 10% of its body weight significantly and is exceptionally undernourished. Their body is fat-free, with their hip bones and ribs sticking out. Dogs often suffer from dehydration, lethargy, and damage to their skin and nervous system due to the effects of malnutrition. A severe lack of food must malnutrition is caused. Most malnutrition may not be of the right quality to meet the dog’s nutritional needs. If the dog’s body starts to run out of nutrients to meet its routine body needs, the dog’s metabolism starts to slow down, and organ function starts to decline or readjust functioning.

When confronted with a malnourished dog, it is essential to examine the dog’s condition and determine the cause of malnutrition. Skinny dogs often have health issues. For example, oral problems, worms and other parasites wound infections, often associated with stray dogs. However, domestic dogs can also suffer from malnutrition, mainly due to cancer and metabolic disorders. So only by understanding what causes malnutrition can we effectively help dogs return to a healthy state.

How to nurse a dog back to health

Caring for a malnourished dog is a careful process

When the dog regains a certain degree of health, we need to develop a health plan for the dog to help them regain a healthy weight, and the most important of these is a recovery diet plan for the dog. We need to record changes in the dog’s weight and dietary habits, such as the amount of food provided per day, the frequency of the food supply, consumption, and the diseases it has experienced.

For malnourished dogs, it is crucial to initially provide small amounts of food with each meal several times a day. Suppose we overfeed a dog before it has fully recovered from its diet. It can lead directly to eating syndrome (because minerals and other nutrients react so strongly in the body that its systems are damaged. There are also chemical changes that can cause serious illness).

In our rescue group, dogs on a diet usually choose high-quality puppy food or choose foods low in carbohydrates, high in fat, high in protein, and high in minerals like phosphate, magnesium, and potassium. On the other hand, we need to determine the amount of food to be served according to the dog’s size and provide food multiple times throughout the day. For about ten days, we can gradually increase the amount of food we eat each day, but it is worth noting that we should still serve food in small amounts and many times.

If the food is health science dog food, there is usually no need to increase the amount of food. However, dogs may need additional supplements to address specific mineral and vitamin deficiencies depending on how the dog recovers. Most pet owners would rely too much on nutritional supplements. However, supplements can cause dietary changes during a dog’s recovery period, leading to eating syndrome, so it is not a good idea for a nutritious dog to take too many supplements. Hence, supplements are best to use with the advice of a veterinarian.

Caring for a malnourished dog is a meticulous process. The inability of a dog’s body to cope with excessive food and supplements can lead to digestive problems, neurological diseases and impaired organ function. Indigestion can include vomiting and diarrhea. If this happens to the dog, we should adjust the amount of food served, and the type of food served until the dog’s digestive system can recover. In addition, malnourished dogs should drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. If the dog starts gaining weight and can follow a standard, well-rounded diet, our diet plan doesn’t need to be so strict. When some dogs lose their appetite or refuse to eat, they need to be fed through a tube until they regain some strength and digestive function.

Professional advice from veterinarians

Malnourished dogs generally have some dysregulation of body temperature. We should check their temperature and provide them with a dry and warm environment to prevent the symptoms of hypothermia.  On the other hand, malnourished dogs’ immune systems should separate from other pets to avoid infection. In addition to more health issues, skinny dogs may also have some mental health issues, often presenting with anxiety and aggression. Therefore, they should take appropriate protective measures to ensure safety.

Health testing is usually conducted for malnourished dogs, aiming to provide corresponding medical care according to the health problems of dogs. Fixing problems such as parasites and diseases is step one of care. Health extension dog food and supplements should feed under the advice of a veterinarian, following several consultation guidelines. A daily record of the dog’s health, dietary intake and weight changes can help determine if dietary adjustments are needed.

Providing a high-quality diet is an effective way to keep dogs happy and healthy. Treatment costs for digestive problems and food allergies are usually very high. According to my previous rescue experience, most adopters choose to prepare dog health insurance for their pets. Compared with the treatment costs, dog health insurance costs are pretty reasonable, and dog health insurance plans are vital for adopters.

Dog or puppy being sick (vomiting and diarrhea)

Don’t panic if your dog vomits or has diarrhea; These are common problems, and stale food can cause symptoms like this. Sudden changes in eating habits can also cause an upset stomach. For example, when a pet owner suddenly changes his dog’s diet to a new one, the health of the dog’s gut can be affected, so we recommend the gradual change to make the dog’s stomach better adapt to the new diet. Usually, we recommend that breeders spend at least three days adding fresh foods to their current diet. And try to avoid spoilage caused by prolonged exposure to the air because spoilage can cause serious problems, such as pancreatitis.

Try to keep your dog away from household garbage and clean your trash can in time, which may also affect your dog’s intestinal health. On the other hand, don’t feed your dog small bones, as bone fragments can also cause intestinal irritation, leading to intestinal disorders and blockages and affecting the dog’s dental health.

If a dog vomits, it’s usually because of a stomach problem, but it can also be a sign of something else. If your dog frequently vomits; and looks weak and lazy, you have severe pain and should contact your vet. If a normally healthy adult dog is vomiting, follow these tips. First, don’t let your dog drink too much water at once. Excessive drinking can lead to further vomiting and can be associated with the risk of dehydration. If your dog cannot eat due to vomiting, reduce the food consumed but stay hydrated. After fasting, it is appropriate to feed some high protein foods, such as chicken breast. If you notice that your vomiting starts to subside, it’s time to get back to a regular diet with some wellness Complete Health dry dog food.

Take care of chronically ill elderly dogs

Older dogs often suffer from chronic diseases and old dog health issues, which require more care and attention. According to the veterinarian’s advice, we need to prepare enough drugs for them and remember the time and frequency of medication. During this period, if there is any bad reaction, we should contact the veterinarian for help in time. For older dogs, changes in their lives may cause stress and limit their ability to exercise, so they should not exercise too much. Older dogs need to access water quickly, so water and fresh food should be available in their resting areas, preferably some new food. If their appetite is not strong, we can heat their food to enhance the aroma and stimulate their desire to eat. We also need to provide them with a clean and warm environment to help keep their fur clean, which can help reduce stress in older dogs. For more information,


How to nurse a dog back to health

Take care of arthritic dogs

A soft mat is necessary for arthritic dogs. Owners can spend a little time each day helping their dogs with some massages, which will help them. In the winter, consider using soft pads that can be heated. Do not give dogs painkillers and arthritis drugs used by humans, as some can be very harmful to dogs. Try to use medications prescribed by a professional veterinarian. You can also join health care for dogs, which will also help dogs recover and keep dog coats healthy. As dog owners, we should often help our dogs to check their skin health conditions. If we don’t get to the vet in time, we can find some emergency measures through health information websites.

Skin diseases of dogs

Trauma, food and wet conditions can all cause skin health problems in dogs. Skin disease is a sign of a dog’s skin condition when it starts to lose a lot of hair on its body, and its skin becomes rough and red. When skin problems arise, we need to put an Elizabeth collar on the dog to prevent excessive licking from aggravating the inflammation. Put socks and clothes on your dog to avoid infection. We should clean the dogs, we can add a little salt to the bathwater, this is good for cleaning the fur and anti-inflammatory, and we should keep their living environment dry. According to the veterinarian’s recommendations, we can use some health care products and dog food for skin and coat health. If the situation does not improve, contact your veterinarian.

How to nurse a dog back to health

Take care of your dog's eye health

Keeping your dog’s eyes healthy is also essential. Dog owners should check their dogs for excessive secretions around the eyes every day. If your dog has a lot of secretions around the eyes, it shows that your dog has a medical condition, such as blue-eyed problems. When we suspect that a dog is affected by an eye problem, it is best to see a veterinarian first to determine which eye problem it is and help the dog more quickly. How do you care for a dog with an eye condition? First, we need to help them clean up the secretions around the eyes regularly and then follow up with the medicine given by the vet. Dogs have strong eyelid muscles, so use your index finger and thumb to keep their eyelids open while applying eye drops or ointment. After that, we also need to give them an Elizabeth collar to avoid rubbing their eyes with their Paws.

Get a first aid kit for your dog

Although there are no health problems with your dog, it is essential to have a first aid kit for your dog. What dog has the most health problems? No doubt the stray dogs and the elderly dogs that we talked about earlier. So when your dog is an adopted stray or an elderly dog, a first aid kit is essential. In addition, you can keep your dog’s health information in your first aid kit. The primary purpose of a first aid kit is to deal with fundamental medical problems for pets at home and in emergencies. You can buy a general first aid kit from a nearby pet store, and you can add items to it according to your needs.

We should put the first aid kit in a place where we can easily find it, including a veterinarian’s business card and the address and phone number of the nearest emergency clinic.

You need to check the contents of your first aid kit regularly to make sure you don’t need timely supplies. You also need to check if items in your first aid kit have expired. If the above two situations occur, we need to convenient collect and replace new items. Here’s a list of things you need in your regular first aid kit:

Bandages and tape for fastening

Activated carbon for adsorption of toxins

Drugs used to clean wounds and reduce inflammation, such as hydrogen peroxide

Antidiarrheal and gastrointestinal medicines

medicines for urinary tract health

Scissors and q-tips

A needleless syringe for liquid medicine

Latex gloves

Thermometer and disinfectant alcohol

These items are the first aid kit, and daily life can also play a significant role.

How to nurse a dog back to health

Methods for Feeding a Sick Dog

Sick dogs usually show a lack of appetite, but eating when necessary can help dogs improve their health. Here are some ways to help your dog eat.

First, we need to give the dogs a little time. If they don’t want to eat the food, we can wait for a few days because the dogs can not eat for several days, but we need to provide water. Some dogs start to recover and feel hungry, so they look for food.

If the dog continues to show signs of lack of appetite, we can try some foods that they do not normally eat, such as human food, baby food, the smell of a different may be interesting to the dog, if they start to eat these foods, we can add some dry dog food to the mix.

Another way we can heat the dog’s food is to increase its aroma and palatability. Because sick dogs sometimes don’t have a perfect sense of smell, heated food can increase their appetite, or broth can add flavor and help sick dogs eat. Broth can also provide nutrition for sick dogs.

The owner can hold the food in his hands and offer it to the dog. Keeping the food on the hands will help calm the dog who is not feeling well and encourage it to eat. This process usually takes some time and requires patience.

Dog owners should read the instructions on their dog’s medicine. If their dog is taking antibiotics or other medications, they may affect their dog’s appetite and cause a loss of appetite. After reading the instructions, we should not give them food right away but wait about half an hour before feeding them.

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