While watching your pet suffer from injury or illness can be heartbreaking, you can play a key role in aiding their recovery.

There are few things more heart-wrenching than seeing your beloved pet suffer through an illness or injury. While its common to feel completely powerless in that situation, you should know that you aren’t really helpless. In fact, your personal care is a critical part of your pets recovery.

When you have a sick or injured pet, the first thing you need to do is consult your veterinarian. Once your vet has established a treatment plan, you can begin using the UP PET recovery protocol that we use at Canine Assistants.

Understand your veterinarians directions clearly. Be certain you know when, how and how much medication to administer, as well as any side effects common to the medication. Ensure you know how much activity is allowed and what, if any, dietary restrictions should be observed. Make sure you know how to accurately gauge your pets recovery so that you can recognize any early signs that indicate things may not be progressing appropriately and alternative treatment may be necessary.

Peace is important to any pet recovering from illness or injury. While your pet may want company, be sure that any people and/or animals in the room remain quiet. A comfortable place to rest also promotes peace, so be sure your pet has a nice, soft bed. If you want to leave the television on, keep the volume very low and do not choose a channel where animals are likely to appear, as that can be overly stimulating or even frightening to your pet in a weakened state. Music designed especially for pets is your best option if you want to add some auditory stimulation to the environment.

Pain control is vital to recovery. Many veterinarians used to believe that pain kept pets from moving around too much and therefore was a good thing. It is now widely understood that pain retards the healing process. If you don’t feel like your veterinarian has provided adequate pain control for your pet, tell her you’d like to try something stronger. You are your pets advocate. Fight for him if necessary!

Ensure your pet always has access to fresh water and encourage him to drink as much as possible. Hydration is as important for pets as it is for their human counterparts. If your pet cannot stand or sit up to reach water, you can offer him water through a large syringe available at your veterinary clinic or local pharmacy. When giving water from a syringe, depress the plunger very slowly to avoid choking your pet.


Tasty, nutritious morsels (as allowed by your veterinarian)can help encourage your pet to eat while recovering. Use small amounts of species-appropriate, high-protein foods mixed in with your pets regular food. You can worry about weaning your pet off of the yummy tidbits once he has fully recovered.

Using the UP PET protocol will help you get your companion back on his feet as quickly as is possible. And don’t be surprised to find that, as your pet starts to feel better, you feel better, too!

Jennifer Arnold, a New York Times best-selling author of Through a Dogs Eyes and In a Dogs Heart. She is the founder of Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization that teaches service dogs to assist children and adults who have physical disabilities, seizure conditions, or other special needs. For more information on Arnold and Canine Assistants, please visit canineassistants.org or facebook.com/canineassistants.