There may be times when your dogs need to be nursed because he is sick or recovering from surgery and cannot manage things he usually does on his own. Follow your vet’s instructions and ask for advice if in doubt.
HOME CARE AFTER SURGERY
Dogs are rarely kept in overnight after routine operations such as neutering. Your vet will give you advice on any specific care that is needed, and your dogs may be discharged with medication such as pain relief. If he remains uncomfortable then contact the vet. Contrary to popular belief, a dog does more harm than good if he licks at an undressed wound, which will become sore and infected. Most dogs accept wearing an Elizabethan collar (or E collar)—a large, cone-shaped plastic collar that fits around the neck and head (above right). Anti-lick strips can also deter an inquisitive tongue and stop dogs from removing dressings on paws and legs. Keep dressings clean and dry by covering with a boot or plastic bag when you take your dog outside to relieve himself. If he worries at a dressing excessively, or it becomes smelly or soiled, then seek your vet’s advice as soon as possible.
Giving tablets and liquid medicine
Adding medicine to food is an easy way to administer it. Check the directions first: some medications need to be taken on an empty stomach, or must not be crushed. If the prescribed medication is a suspension, shake the bottle to mix well. Remove the dose and give to your dog directly into his mouth or with food.
Prescribed medication should be given as directed by your vet, and only by an adult. Make sure other pets do not ingest a drug accidentally, especially if it is given in food. If your dog is prescribed an antibiotic, it is important that he completes the full course. A liquid medication may need to be shaken to ensure thorough mixing before the dose is given. Giving medication directly by mouth is ideal, since you will be sure that your dog has swallowed it. Speak to your vet if this is difficult, since some medications can be hidden in food or a treat (although not if they must be taken on an empty stomach). Unless the tablet is palatable, avoid crushing and mixing it with food, since your dog may then refuse to eat and will not receive the medication. If your dog develops symptoms such as an upset stomach (vomiting or diarrhea) while on medication, then discontinue the treatment until you have spoken to a vet.
Administering eye drops
When applying eye drops, hold the dropper between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze the drops on to the front of the eye. After applying the drops, gently hold your dog’s eyelids closed for a few seconds, and praise him.
FOOD AND WATER
Make sure your dog can reach his food and water bowls comfortably, perhaps raising them off the ground so he has no need to reach down. You may be given a prescription diet to help your dog’s recovery, but if he will not eat it ask your vet about alternative suitable foods. A similar problem may occur with your dog refusing to drink recommended rehydration fluids. In this case, encourage him to drink cooled, boiled water, which is better than taking no fluids at all, or mix some water in with his food.
REST AND EXERCISE
A postoperative dog needs to rest in a quiet place at a warm, not hot, temperature with comfortable bedding. He may prefer to sleep away from the family, or he may seek company. Exercise immediately after surgery should be restricted unless you are advised otherwise. Short, slow walks around the yard are important to keep the joints, bladder, and bowels functioning. Following surgery your dog will probably spend more time asleep than usual. Find him a cozy place where he can let his body recover.