How to Care for Your Pet After Hospitalization

Feb 8, 2022

Having a pet in the hospital can be a scary experience, especially if they had an accident. Now that they’re home from the hospital, how do you care for your pet after hospitalization? This article will discuss what to expect after your pet was hospitalized and what they need, like rest and pet CBD, to recover. Hopefully, a little bit of education will make this stressful, possibly scary, event easier to navigate and help to put your mind at ease.

Changes to Expect After Pet Hospitalization

When you bring your pet home from the hospital, you might be anxious to get back to normal and be looking for signs that your little buddy is going to be ok. Even though your pet is ok, it may take them some time to get back to their pre-hospitalization normal. So don’t be scared if your pet isn’t quite themselves after the hospital, they just went through a stressful event and need to readjust. Here are some of the reasons your pet might be a little off after their trip to the hospital. 

  • Interrupted sleep

Your pet likely did not sleep well while in the hospital. A 24-hour veterinary hospital is filled with noise and movement 24/7. This means there’s never any peaceful, quiet time for sleep. It’s full of strange, new smells and the sounds of unfamiliar animals and people. Also, the lights are usually on all of the time so that staff can monitor the animals. This makes it impossible for your pet to tell it it’s day or night, which can be very disorienting. And, being checked on every few hours will interrupt any sleep an animal can get. So, expect your pet to sleep soundly for a long time once they are home. Don’t be surprised if they mostly sleep for a day or three. Not only are they healing, which is a lot of work for a body, but they are also catching up on some much-needed sleep. 

  • Change in food and eating schedule

Your dog is on a different feeding schedule at a hospital, which can lead to a readjustment period when you bring them home. Check on the hospital sheets to see what time they were feeding your pet. This way you can start with the schedule your pet was on and gradually shift them back to normal. Going slowly allows your dog’s digestive system to readjust to normal. Your pet was also eating different food at the hospital. Your veterinarian will send you home with some of the food they were feeding your pet. This way you can feed them the same food they’ve been eating as you slowly reintroduce their regular food. If your pet won’t eat after being home for a couple of days, call your vet’s office. However, most animals happily return to their normal food and eating routine. 

  • Change in bathroom schedule

Animals who have been hospitalized often see a change in their bowel movements. Stress can cause constipation, as can anesthesia or other pain meds. Your pet might not have been able to have a healthy bowel movement while at the vet’s. If you have a dog, the schedule for going outside is different and they might not want to go while on a leash with a stranger. So, it is not uncommon for pets to not poop for a day or two after being home from the hospital. Also not uncommon is loose stools or diarrhea. This is often the result of your pet being fed a special soft food after their surgery, which will come out the way it looked going in. You can always ask the vet tech what your pet has been fed, so you know what to expect.

  • Irritation at the IV site

If your pet had surgery, one or more of their legs were shaved so an IV catheter could be inserted. It can be very itchy and irritating when the hair starts to grow back. This can lead to excessive licking, which can create a hot spot. This is often more annoying than whatever issue needed surgery. If you can’t stop your pet from licking or if a hot spot forms, ask your vet to wrap the affected limb. A few days in a wrap should solve the problem. 

  • They smell different

Other pets in the home might be put off by a pet that has been gone for a few days and comes home smelling very different. This is more of an issue with cats, generally. Your pet smelling differently could change the social dynamics of your pack, and can even lead to bullying. Again, it’s more likely to happen with cats, so if you notice your cat being picked on after bringing them home from the hospital, try keeping them in a private room for a few days. This will also allow you to closely monitor their litter box and eating habits, which give crucial information about recovery. But, if being locked up stresses your cat out, then don’t do it. Keeping stress levels low is important for recovery. 

Rest and Recovery

You may be wondering how to help your dog after coming home from the hospital. Don’t wash your pet’s bedding or rearrange their things, like toys, or food bowls, while they’re in the hospital. They’ve just been in foreign, alien territory for a few days and will be comforted by coming home to familiar surroundings and smells. This will help them to relax, and relaxation is important for healing. Rest, especially when sleeping helps aid the healing process. While resting your pet’s body will have more caloric energy for healing, which includes starting to create more white blood cells which will aid the immune system in fighting pathogens and germs. Tissue growth is also triggered during rest, which allows the body to repair damaged blood vessels and any other injuries. 

To facilitate healing rest and sleep, make sure your pet has a comfortable space to retreat to if things get too busy at home. Try to make that space dark, quiet, and low traffic if possible. This will support their sleep and any naps they need to take during the day. Give your pet a regular bedtime, if possible, after their hospitalization. A sleep schedule for your pet can help them to fall asleep easier at night. 

Let your pet nap during the day after their hospitalization. They need extra rest right now while they’re healing physically and adjusting after their hospital visit. Likely, they’ll be very tired when they get home and won’t want to move around much. Try to limit their activity for at least 12-24 hours. Your pet is more vulnerable right now and it’s important to reduce risks of accidents while they’re healing. Your vet will likely suggest keeping your pet indoors while they’re healing. Running around outside like dogs do, or jumping a six-foot fence as cats do could lead to re-injury or new injuries. Too much movement will put stress on their body and may interfere with their healing. However, if your pet does get restless, engaging in light activity is a good idea. 

Giving your pet CBD is also a good way to help them handle the stress of hospitalization. CBD supports calmness and relaxation in pets. And it is particularly helpful with the anxiety that can come from an event like hospitalization. Pet Releaf makes a wide variety of pet CBD products, including CBD oil for pets and Edibites CBD and herbal soft chews for dogs. Their Calming or Immunity Edibites would be perfect for a pup who’s just out of the hospital. 

Nutrition and Medication

You may want to talk to your vet about highly nutritious pet food after your pet visits the hospital. To heal properly, your pet’s body needs plenty of nutritious foods. Ask your vet if your current pet food is enough to meet this new need for more nutrition while your pet is healing. You can also supplement your pet’s diet, if it is a dog or a cat, with nutritional bone broth. You may need to adjust your pet’s diet while they are on medication.

Don’t worry if your pet seems to lose its appetite after the trip to the hospital. If they had an accident or surgery, the stress from these events often leads to a loss of appetite. Try giving your pet lighter meals, and never try to force-feed or give more food than they want. If there is vomiting, make sure your pet has access to water and try the food again later. If your pet can’t keep food down repeatedly, call your vet. 

Follow your vet’s instructions regarding any medications. If you are confused about anything, give your vet’s office a call. They’ll be happy to run through the instructions with you. If your pet is on antibiotics, make sure they take them for the recommended amount of time. If you stop too soon, your pet could get sick. 

Emotional Support

This might seem obvious, but your pet is going to need extra love, care, and attention while they’re healing. You might not be able to play like normal, but make sure to spend plenty of time with your fur friend while they’re in recovery. Time with you eases their stress and will help them heal. 

Vet Follow-Ups

A key piece of your pet’s recovery is their follow-up visit with their vet. Come in when your vet recommends and make sure you call the clinic if there is anything about your pet’s recovery that concerns you. 

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