If your dog is sick, is recovering from sickness or has just undergone a veterinary procedure such as surgery or chemotherapy, there are many different facets to how your dog will recover and return to good health. As well as elements such as surgical aftercare, wound management and treating or avoiding infection, one of the most important elements in the recovery process and one that can make a significant difference to your dog’s return to health, is feeding a recovery diet.
A recovery diet is distinctive from the normal canine diet for a wide variety of reasons, and it serves various different purposes. First of all it needs to be palatable to the dog, who may have a suppressed appetite or need extra encouragement to eat after a bout of sickness, and so recovery diets are designed to attract your dog to their food and get them eating again.
On top of this, the food must also be mild and bland enough that it will not upset the digestive system or potentially exacerbate the original condition that the dog was treated for, which means ruling out some of the most fragrant and appealing foods that dogs often beg for!
The diet must also support the body in its recovery from the illness or condition as well, which means ensuring that the food itself contains all of the essential nutrients and vitamins required to support health and boost healing, plus the right balance of protein, carbohydrates etc.
Finally, the diet must contain enough calories to support the dog and boost their recovery, without providing too many calories for dogs that are subdued or unable to move around too much as a result of their illness or treatment.
As you can see, there is an awful lot to bear in mind! If you are wondering what is involved in feeding a recovery diet to your dog or if you want to try and get your dog eating if they have been a little bit under the weather, read on to learn more.
Precisely how long you will need to feed a recovery diet for will depend on how long your dog is in the initial stages of recovery for, which is something that you should discuss with your vet. Generally, while full healing may take weeks or even months to achieve, a recovery diet is designed to help your dog through the first stages of the recovery, when the body is actively mending itself and your dog maybe reluctant to eat.
If your dog has undergone a large surgery or is having ongoing radiation treatments or chemotherapy, you may need to feed them a recovery diet for up to a week or even longer.
However, if your dog has simply had a slightly upset stomach and did not visit the vet, and you wish to tempt them back into eating while ensuring that you do not trigger off the problem again, just a day will usually be fine.
In order to avoid putting to much pressure on the system of a dog in recovery, it is recommended to break their meals up into several small portions and offer food little and often. Often, starting eating again is one of the best ways to get a dog on the road to recovery, but at the same time, your dog may be reluctant to eat. It is important therefore to offer them food when they want it and are interested in eating it, as they may not feel like it later on when it is their usual feeding time.
If your dog is undergoing veterinary treatment or having surgery, your vet will usually work very closely with you before your dog goes home to advise you on feeding a recovery diet, what to feed, and how to tempt your dog to eat. There are various veterinary approved specialist diets that are considered good for supporting recovery, some of which are intended to be fed immediately after treatment to get the digestive system moving again, and others to feed over the course of the following days to help to boost recovery.
However, if your dog has simply suffered a couple of days of minor illness and has not seen the vet, you can feed your dog a recovery diet at home for a day or so.
If your dog has had a stomach upset, it is important to get your dog eating again while not triggering off further diarrhoea or vomiting. This means feeding a food that is very bland, but also palatable for your dog. As you will only feed this for one or two meals, simple boiled chicken mashed with brown rice is fine, although of course this would not make a suitable diet for your dog for the long term.
A good mixture of protein such as boiled chicken or turkey, mild cheese or eggs, plus carbohydrate like boiled rice or boiled potato, and vegetables to provide vitamins and minerals can all be combined to help to get your dog on the road to recovery.
You might also want to think about giving your dog a spoonful of a probiotic drink or yoghurt too, particularly if your dog has suffered from a stomach upset.