culinary cures: petplan pet insurance names foods that promote healing

culinary cures
Posted by Dr. Ernie Ward on Sep 10 2013



Most pets will experience at least one or two surgical or anesthetic procedures during their lives. To aid in the recovery process, you should carefully follow your vet’s recommendations for rehab and post-op pain management. You can also help healing by paying attention to your pet’s diet after a procedure. Of course, before giving any human food or supplement, ask your vet if it is safe and appropriate for your pet’s medical condition. Here are my top natural healing-helpers.

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Tummy Troubles

Whenever a pet undergoes anesthesia, changes in the normal intestinal bacteria occur that can lead to cramping, decreased appetite, diarrhea or weight loss. To lessen these side effects, I routinely recommend administering a pet-specific probiotic 24 to 48 hours prior to surgery and continuing for three to seven days afterwards. Restoring bacterial balance may also speed healing and boost immune function.

Eat This, Not That

Offering excessive high-carb treats, cookies and chews along with a poor diet can slow down optimal healing. If you want to offer your pets goodies to help ease the pain, why not offer wholesome nutritional support at the same time?


I advise my pet patients to begin eating additional lean protein three to seven days before major surgery, and then to continue for two to four weeks afterwards. Free-range, organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken is an excellent choice, along with wild-caught salmon and tuna and organic eggs.

After surgery, offer orange veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes, which contain the restorative vitamins A and C. Red bell peppers are also rich in vitamin C and helpful antioxidants, and many dogs love the crunchy texture and vibrant flavor. Blueberries and broccoli can also supply your pet with much-needed nutritional ammo to combat infection and potential complications.


Fish, flax or algal sources of the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA have been shown to benefit a range of medical conditions, both pre- and post-operatively, in both humans and laboratory animals. Omega-3s help reduce pain and inflammation, boost immune function, and have been shown to reduce post-operative complications. Try offering wild-caught salmon or tuna as a tasty treat to post-op pets.

While there’s no clear consensus on the benefits of using vitamin E post-operatively, I tend to use it as a topical treatment on large incision sites. Simply break open a vitamin E capsule and gently rub the oil along the incision, starting at seven to 10 days after surgery. Pet mushroom extracts may also be prescribed to facilitate healing. Talk to your veterinarian about which options could benefit your pet.

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