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Bland Diet for Dogs – What Should You Feed a Sick Dog?

Picture of a dog on a bed

Neither pets nor humans love to have a tummy ache, and if your dog has been experiencing one for a couple of days, it’s only natural for you to want to know what you could feed them so that they feel better. 

We often tend to feed our canine companions some of the food on our table, especially on celebrations such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and others. This can lead to several digestive problems, from diarrhea to obvious discomfort. In this article, we’ll look at some of the things you could feed to a dog with an upset stomach. 

When to feed a bland diet to your canine friend

What’s important to note right from the beginning is that bland diets should only be used for mild cases when you know what the culprit could have been, but the dog’s health status doesn’t represent a medical emergency. For example, if you’ve just changed your dog’s diet and you didn’t introduce the new one gradually into the old one, you can be almost sure that this has caused digestive distress.

A bland diet can also be helpful in situations such as your dog having been in the car for a long time, moving home, or undergoing changes that might have made him or her a little stressed. 

If you are not sure what your dog might have ingested and you even suspect that it could have been something potentially toxic, get in touch with your local vet as soon as possible. If the veterinarian is not available, take your dog to the emergency clinic. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially in such cases. Don’t waste your time with home remedies if your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, and worse, he’s a puppy. He could get dehydrated very quickly, and that could be life-threatening.

Use common sense and extreme caution whenever you’re trying to treat a dog’s health issue at home. In many situations, time is of the essence. 

Foods that are as simple as possible

It’s better to offer your dog small portions of simple foods and eliminate his/her kibble from the diet for the time being. If your canine buddy appears to be eager to get some more, you can rest assured that it’s a good sign. If they’re still a little dubious, the simplest food you can feed them is a chicken broth (not with the meat, nor with the bones). To prevent them from becoming dehydrated, you can add water to any food you’re offering them.

Here are several simple food combinations that can benefit  a dog that has an upset stomach:

  • Boiled chicken breast and white rice
  • Lean hamburger and white rice
  • Ground turkey and plain pumpkin
  • Simple scrambled eggs (no oil, no salt, no condiments) or scrambled egg whites
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Plain low-fat yogurt
  • Pork loin
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Boiled spaghetti

A bland diet can be fed to a dog for up to five days, by which point the animal’s stool should be better formed. You can then start to mix the bland diet with the regular one over the next few days until the regular one replaces the bland one completely. 

Keep in mind that a dog with an upset tummy might also be gassy or nauseated and might refuse food. While this is not a concern for the short term, if 24 hours go by and your dog hasn’t ingested anything solid or water, you have to take your canine companion to the vet. Two days are okay if you have noticed that your dog consumes water, in which case we recommend feeding them homemade strained chicken soup instead of regular water. 

Dehydration

Dehydration is a very serious condition that can be developed in a matter of a few hours. If your dog experiences profuse diarrhea and vomiting, he is effectively depleting his body of water. Water is essential for your dog’s organs, tissues, and cells, as they wouldn’t function properly in its absence. 

To check whether your dog is well hydrated, look at your Fido’s gums. It’s a good sign if they’re slick and pink. If you are feeling unsure, just press on your pooch’s gums until you see the color change, remove your finger, and then note how long it takes for the color to come back to normal. Ideally, if the dog is well hydrated, it comes back right away. If it takes several seconds, you might have to do something about dehydration.

Another way you can test whether your canine buddy is dehydrated or not is to lift the scruff of his/her neck. Should the skin snap back right away, you’d have nothing to worry about. If it were to take a long time for it to retract, you’d have to be alarmed.  

Since managing dehydration in dogs can be quite challenging, we urge you to take your dog to the vet. As a general rule, if your dog merely has an upset stomach, you’ll notice that his feces are a little less firm than they should be. Sometimes you can hear how the gas travels through your Fido’s intestines, especially in cases of indigestion, and if your dog has an achy tummy, he’ll be a little restless and try to lick the area that’s bothering him. On the other hand, he could also rest more so as to promote healing. If your dog vomits more than a couple of times over the span of several hours, take him to the vet as soon as possible, particularly if he also has diarrhea. 

Pedialyte for Dogs

Pedialyte is a children’s electrolyte drink that can deal with the lack of electrolytes in your dog’s system. Even if your pooch drinks water, it’s not enough to replenish the electrolytes that he’s losing through diarrhea and vomiting

Pedialyte isn’t the best choice if you have a large dog breed since the dosage recommended in this case is 15 ml per pound of body weight. As you can expect, that is a lot of liquid to swallow. Even more, if your dog refuses to drink it on his own, you will have to use a syringe (without the needle) to feed the drink into the side of the animal’s mouth. 

Over-the-counter treatments

You might not know it, but there are some human over-the-counter medications that can make a difference when it comes to treating your dog’s upset tummy at home. Pepto-Bismol is one of them. It’s a staple in most medicine cabinets, and it’s safe to give to dogs (but not cats). It can treat diarrhea, vomiting, and an upset tummy. If your pooch vomits after ingesting it, you should get in touch with the vet, though. The dosage for this medicine is one teaspoon per 20 pounds of weight every 5-6 hours.

Imodium is another human treatment that can relieve diarrhea both in dogs and in cats. The dosage is 1 milligram per 20 pounds of weight, every 5-6 hours. In this case, however, we have to note that there are breeds that can have an adverse reaction to Imodium, and they are Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shelties, and Long-haired Whippets. 

Pepcid-AC, Zantac, and Tagamet are OTC medications that can treat heartburn and ulcer-related symptoms in people. They are usually just as effective for dogs and cats. The dosage is one tablet for dogs that weigh more than 60 pounds, half for dogs between 20 and 60 pounds, and a quarter for dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds. 

Commercial bland diets

We’ve already mentioned how, after your dog gets better, you should start reintegrating his/her old food into this new diet. But it would be a far better idea to do so with some kibble or canned food that’s specifically made for canines with digestive issues. While we don’t necessarily recommend specific products, we’ll make an exception in this case. Some allowed commercial bland diets that are actually good in such situations are the following:

  • Eukanuba Veterinary Diet Low Residue
  • Science Prescription Diet I/D
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Intestinal HE

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