What To Feed A Sick Dog With No Appetite


Your dog has a stomach ache, also known as an upset stomach or gastrointestinal upset. Her stomach hurts and she might be in pain, but she doesn’t know why. On the outside she may look like any other dog but inside of her something is happening and you want to make it better!

What To Feed A Sick Dog With No Appetite

Diarrhea and upset stomach are common issues for canines. If you have a pet dog, you know that they often eat things that they shouldn’t. It’s normal for their digestive system to respond by becoming sensitive and purging itself through vomiting or diarrhea.

Nearly all dogs will experience nausea and diarrhea at some point. Depending on your dog’s diet, age, and temperament, this issue will vary in frequency, extent, and intensity. Usually, an upset stomach or diarrhea are acute, meaning they’re a spontaneous response to something the dog ate. Chronic, or repeated, digestive issues may indicate a serious issue.

If your dog vomits or has diarrhea often, contact your vet immediately to rule out the possibility of a chronic illness. If the problem is only temporary, consider these 12 foods that can help alleviate an upset stomach, boost hydration, and help your dog feel better.

What to Do When Your Dog Has Diarrhea
When dogs are suffering from an upset stomach or diarrhea, they need more of your care and attention. Here are some things you can try to help relieve their upset stomach and make them more comfortable.

Call Your Vet
Just to be on the safe side, call your vet and let them know your dog has diarrhea. It’s a common issue for dogs, but your vet will ask you questions to help determine the cause and whether treatment is required. These questions will likely include:

When it started.
How many bowel movements your dog has had.
What the poop looks like (especially, is there blood in it?).
How your dog is behaving (fever? in pain? vomiting?).
Whether your dog has recently eaten something toxic.
Watch for Dehydration
If your dog is losing body fluids through vomiting and/or diarrhea, keep an eye on them for signs of dehydration. See below for what to look for and how to respond.

Fast Your Dog
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends withholding food for 12–14 hours while providing adequate amounts of fresh water. Water consumption may relieve dehydration. Note that fasting is only recommended for healthy adult dogs.

Dogs under one year of age and geriatric dogs are at risk of developing hypoglycemia/low blood sugar if they do not eat. Also, dogs with a chronic illness (like diabetes) should not fast unless their vet suggests otherwise.

Feed Your Dog a Bland Diet
After fasting, you can start feeding your dog a bland diet of three parts plain cooked rice and one part boiled, unseasoned, boneless and skinless chicken breast.

Avoid Physical Activity
Any physical activity, such as long walks, running, chasing, jumping, or playing with another dog should be avoided until your dog is behaving normally. Strenuous physical activity will slow down recovery and could make your dog even sicker.

Slowly Reincorporate Regular Food
With the support of your vet, you can slowly reincorporate your dog’s regular food into his diet (e.g., 1/4 dog food and 3/4 bland food from the list below, then 1/2 and 1/2, and so forth).

Diarrhea and upset stomach are common maladies for dogs. The following foods can help alleviate those symptoms and boost hydration.
Diarrhea and upset stomach are common maladies for dogs. The following foods can help alleviate those symptoms and boost hydration.

Photo by Teddy Österblom on Unsplash

What to Feed a Dog With Diarrhea
In the same way that humans who are feeling unwell are often referred to the BRAT diet, there are a few foods that can help alleviate your pup’s tummyache and diarrhea.

Foods to Give Your Dog When They Have Diarrhea or an Upset Stomach

  1. White rice
  2. Boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast meat
  3. Pumpkin (canned or pureed)
  4. Mashed boiled potatoes
  5. Mashed cooked carrots
  6. Mashed sweet potatoes
  7. Boiled egg
  8. Oatmeal
  9. Cottage cheese
  10. Watermelon
  11. Banana
  12. Vet-approved probiotics

All of these foods should be served plain and unseasoned. Please read the preparation sections below closely, as they contain critical information that could affect your dog’s health if ignored.

Foods to Feed Your Dog When He’s Sick

Feeding a sick dog is challenging. Decreased appetite, upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting make caring for a sick dog stressful for both you and your pet. A bland diet can help relieve some of these symptoms while also giving your dog the nutrition he needs to recover.

The following five recipes are intended for use for dogs with mild stomach upset, including gas, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. As these symptoms are occasionally signs of a more serious problem, always check with your vet before taking treatment into your own hands. Only use these recipes once you have ruled out other health risks and discussed your plan with your veterinarian; and remember that dogs with existing health conditions like diabetes, cancer, allergies, and senior dogs might need additional nutrition to stay healthy.

Chicken and Rice

Chicken and rice are prime ingredients in many dog foods, and these mild foods sit well on upset canine stomachs. Plus, this bland meal is easy to prepare. All you need are boneless, skinless chicken breasts and rice. White rice is lower in nutritional value than brown rice, but its blandness makes it more suitable for upset stomachs. Oils, butter, and added seasonings can irritate your dog’s stomach and make the problem worse, so stick with plain boiled chicken and rice and save the extra stuff for your own meal. Make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly and cut or shred it into small, bite-sized pieces for your dog, since enthusiastic canines might choke on this unexpected treat. You can also purchase many bland chicken and rice foods if you prefer not cooking.

Shredded Chicken

Shredded chicken is easy on upset stomachs and acts as a huge eating incentive for dogs with decreased appetites. Plain, unseasoned, boiled, shredded chicken is easy to digest and is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids, making it a great snack for dogs feeling under the weather. Chicken keeps in the fridge for three-to-four days, or you can freeze it for two-to-six months. Packaged shredded chicken is available to buy online.


Pumpkin and sweet potato have similar digestive health benefits. Like sweet potatoes, pumpkin is also high in fiber, which helps regulate canine digestive systems. Cooked, peeled, unsalted, and unseasoned pumpkin contains vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese, giving your dog a nutritional boost along with a little digestive help.

Adding pumpkin to your dog’s meal usually helps regulate mild constipation. Veterinarians recommend one to four tablespoons of pumpkin, depending on your dog’s size. Canned pumpkin is a convenient alternative to preparing pumpkin yourself, as long as it is unseasoned. Feeding your dog a can of pumpkin pie filling might end up sending you back to the vet, as the spices and sugars could irritate your dog’s stomach and cause further complications. There are also many pumpkin powders you can buy to add to your dog’s food.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is a very mild, liquid meal that sits easily in upset canine stomachs. It is also a nutritious and delicious way to add moisture and flavor to dry food and encourage dogs with reduced appetites to eat. To make a bone broth for dogs, fill a crock-pot with beef marrow bones or bones with plenty of joints, like turkey and chicken legs. Cover the bones with 2-3 inches of water, cover, and cook on low for 20-24 hours.

Let the broth cool for 2-to-3 hours in the fridge to let the fat form a hardened layer at the top. Scoop it off and store the jelly-like broth in the refrigerator. If you want to use the broth to add moisture to dry food, microwave the broth just long enough for it to go from a semi-solid jelly to a liquid, but not long enough to get hot, as hot broths can burn your dog’s mouth. Freeze the broth in small containers like an ice cube tray for later use.

While bone broth is full of healthy bone marrow, cooked bones themselves are incredibly dangerous for dogs. Make sure you remove all of the bones from your broth before serving. Save yourself a trip to the emergency room and strain the broth just to make sure no small bones escaped your notice. For convenience, you can purchase a bone broth safe for dogs online.

Baby Food

Veterinary emergency hospitals often use certain types of baby food to feed the dogs in their care. Baby food is very easy to swallow and digest and is a great way to give oral medications. Veterinarians recommend feeding Stage II meat-based baby foods like chicken, lamb, and turkey, as long as the baby food does not contain any garlic or onion powder.

You may also consider an over-the-counter stomach and diarrhea treatment.

While none of these recipes should be used as a replacement for proper medical care, feeding a bland diet can alleviate some of your dog’s intestinal discomfort while also providing him with foods he’ll love. These five recipes for dog digestive health also make delicious treats for when your dog starts feeling better, so consider saving some for later to reward your canine patient.

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