How to Care for your Pet when they are Sick

Reviewed, fact-checked & edited by Marcella Raskin.
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It’s no secret that when our pets are sick, we’ll do anything for them. We want to make sure they’re comfortable and get the best care possible. It can be challenging to know what is best in these times of uncertainty, but it’s important not to panic! There are some things you should be doing every day while your pet is under the weather. 

Spend Time With your Pet to Make them Feel Loved

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Even though your pet is sick, they need to feel loved and cared for. Instead of going about the day as normal, consider spending a little more time with them. Petting them or letting them sit in your lap while you work on a project can make a big difference in their mood and overall health. This can be especially important if your pets have been quarantined from each other during an illness.

Petting your pet and playing with them is a great way to show you care. It feels like play, even though they’re not as active as they usually would be. Take the time to do this as much as possible, since it can help tremendously in making them comfortable while also showing that you are ready to give them more attention when they are well again. If there’s no real reason why your pet can’t get up, encourage activities that get them moving–a walk around the block is perfect for this!

Keep your Pet’s Environment as Clean and Sanitary as Possible

Since your pet is home for the day, you’ll need to do what is necessary to keep it clean. This is especially important if your pet sleeps in a cage or bed that’s separate from your own. Wash these frequently with hot water and soap, since it will be easier to tell if there are problems with the cage when you’re cleaning it manually. It’s also best not to use fabric softeners while washing these items, as they can irritate your pet’s skin and make them sicker. If you have dryer sheets on hand, consider using those in place of regular fabric softener when doing laundry.

Provide the Necessary Medical Attention if Needed

Even if your pet is showing all of the signs that they’re feeling better, it’s important to make sure their health doesn’t decline. A vet can provide you with advice and information on what care will be best for them, as well as any medications or treatments necessary to get them back on their feet as soon as possible. If you notice a change in behavior like decreased activity level, lethargy, abnormal breathing, or an increase in vomiting and/or diarrhea, take your pet to the vet immediately! 

Keep Your Pet Hydrated

While it can be hard to think about drinking when you’re sick, your pet will need a lot of fluids. It’s best to give them cold water since warm or hot water can cause stomach issues that will make them sicker faster. Make sure they have fresh water at all times by refilling their bowls as needed throughout the day. If possible, consider buying a pet water fountain, which many pets love! They provide steady streams of cool flowing water that will keep your pet hydrated for as long as it is turned on.

Keep your pet hydrated by offering water at least once an hour (or more often if they seem thirsty). Never force fluids on them though; their appetite will return soon enough with proper food and fluids. Provide fresh filtered or bottled water at all times-avoid tap water because of lead toxicity that may result from pipes carrying contaminated drinking

Keep Your Pet Warm

Changes in the environment can often cause pets to feel under the weather. It’s important that they are kept warm enough that they don’t overheat, but not too warm since this can make them weaker and more susceptible to illness. Collecting blankets, tile heaters, or space heaters, using a heating pad for their bedding (with supervision) and other similar efforts are all good ways to keep your pet nice and cozy while also avoiding discomfort during their recovery. Make sure you never use an open flame heater like a gas stove or fireplace for this purpose though; it is best to leave these items out of your plans altogether if at all possible just to be safe! 

If they’re feeling chilly, a nice warm blanket might be just the thing. You can also turn up the heat or get an extra blanket for them to snuggle with if they want. A heated water bottle might also be useful if they have trouble keeping their body temperature regulated on their own.

Feed Them Healthy Food

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It is important when animals are sick that we provide them with food that will keep up their strength and not make things worse like greasy foods and junk food.

Your pet’s appetite may not be up to par when they’re sick, but it’s important that you don’t restrict their food intake too much. It’ll help with their strength and energy levels while giving the right nutrients to aid in healing. If you can get canned chicken broth or beef/turkey baby food (no added onions) at your grocery store, this works great! Mix some in with regular food or give it alone if their appetite isn’t strong enough to eat by itself.

Keep an eye on their eating habits to see if they’re still interested in eating and if they’re having trouble keeping it down. If they’re still not eating, don’t push them to eat-they need rest more than anything else. This can often go away on its own after a day or two.

Continue to offer food for as long as they are interested in it–just be sure that whatever you choose is healthy and nutritious. If their appetite doesn’t improve within days, take them back to the vet just to be safe. If they’re eating, see what other foods might be good for them to try to encourage their appetite and give them more variety in their diet above what you’ve already provided.

It is normal for pets to sleep off the stomach ache or lethargy that comes with diarrhea or vomiting-they don’t need any special care, but if several days go by without an improvement, take your pet to the vet.

Be Careful with Houseplants Around Pets Who are Ill

Many plants can cause stomach upset or allergies in animals. Make sure to take care of houseplants or anything toxic for pets so they don’t eat them by accident, which can make them sicker.

Household cleaners are also poison to pets, so be aware of where you store these items so they don’t get into them. This is especially important when the pet has just healed because their senses may be off, making them more vulnerable than usual. Areas that aren’t safe for pets would include declawing corners in couches and any objects that could potentially break off and pose a choking hazard (like popcorn kernels).

Provide Plenty of Rest

An animal’s immune system is very weak when they are sick, making them more susceptible to disease and illness until they recover. It is important that they don’t stay up too late since this can hinder their body from fighting off sickness as well as it could if it was getting enough sleep. Try to keep things quiet and calm during the day so they will feel better at night. A lot of noise and commotion can make their body chronically stressed even more so than it already is, which would make them feel worse instead of better.

Allow them a good amount of time to rest every day, but try not to let them sleep for too long at a time or they might start to feel groggy and tired throughout the day.

Keep Germs from Spreading

By frequently washing their hands and maintaining the surfaces in their homes, you can keep germs from spreading. Wash bedding and towels often to minimize the risk of infection so they can feel better.

Ensure there are no sharp edges on furniture or objects you have around the home so they don’t injure themselves while being sick.

Do not use harsh chemicals that may irritate their skin. Natural products are best, but if you decide to use something else be sure it is labeled as safe for pets before using it at all.

Keep their Favorite Toys, Blankets, and Bedding Near them

pet sick toys chico

A lot of anxiousness can exacerbate an already weakened immune system making things worse instead of better. Keep them in a calm environment with little noise or commotion by closing curtains or blinds, keeping quiet during the day, and providing lots of entertainment options like favorite toys.

When they are sick, animals often like to curl up in the spot where they feel most comfortable–this could be their favorite chair or bed, someplace quiet outside, or even on your lap! If you live with other pets, make sure that they aren’t fighting over who gets to rest near you first. More than anything else, animals thrive when they know that their human is nearby and taking care of them.

Conclusion.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to care for your pet when he or she is sick. From giving them medication with food or treats to providing a safe environment, this guide will give you the knowledge needed to keep your furry friend happy and healthy! Comment below on what other topics about caring for pets would interest you most. I love to hear from our readers!

Author

  • Brenda Tillman is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner, a dedicated mom blogger, and a life enthusiast. She also has completed courses on Parenting Skills, Learning, and Education. She is married and is the proud mother of a boy and two girls. She loves being with her family and pets. She has been blogging for over five years now and enjoys sharing her thoughts on parenting, relationships, health & fitness as well as other topics that come up in life.

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