Illness Management - Caring for your Sick Dog


How can I best administer her current medicine

Liquids can be hard to administer to dogs but usually it can be done by tilting their head back, holding their mouth shut by putting a hand around their muzzle and then working the tip of the syringe into the fold of the lip (back corner of the mouth) and giving the medication just slowly enough that it doesn't run out all over as the dog swallows. Really bad tasting medications can lead to a big struggle, though. It is possible that some of the medications might be OK in taste and your April only reacts due to the bad tasting ones. In this case, separating them may help since she may readily take the OK tasting ones and then you have a smaller volume of the others to give.

What alternative diet can you suggest so she'll finish her food

Personally, I usually tell clients with sick pets to feed them what they want unless there is a specific reason I think it is necessary not to do that, like if they have pancreatitis. Most of the time I think it is better that they eat something than that they eat what I would like them to eat. You need to check with your vet on this one though -- there very well could be a reason for the special diet.

Is it extremely necessary to keep her indoors until she recovers

Probably not --- except that it is important to make sure that she is home when it is time to give medications, so some sort of confinement is a good idea.

At what point do you think I should start force-feeding her? If she eats half her meal, is that good enough

Usually, eating half the meal for a few days is definitely OK. In most illnesses I think it is best to try things like hand feeding good tasting morsels or coaxing the dog to eat in some other way rather than force feeding. In some situations, it is very important to feed and again, you need to check with your vet on that.

What can I use to disinfect the backyard and ensure that it is free of any disease-causing bacteria

Many bacteria are susceptible to sodium hypochlorite bleach (Chlorox is an example). Just general cleaning so that there is no residual stool or other organic material for bacteria to grow in helps a great deal.

Michael Richards, DVM


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...