When a dog is sick, he needs proper nourishment in order to help him recover. Unfortunately, a dog that is not feeling well is also likely to have a poor appetite. Veterinarians recommend a bland diet to keep the dog hydrated and supply needed nutrition. Because bland diets are easily digestible, they do not put undue stress on the dog’s system as he tries to fight off an illness. Some prescription diets are also available specifically to aid the recovery of a sick dog.
If the dog is unable to keep anything down, dehydration is the major concern. Fluids are necessary for proper functioning of internal organs. However, when your dog starts vomiting, you will have to temporarily withhold all food and water for at least six hours to allow his stomach to settle down. If no vomiting occurs in that time frame, feeding him small amounts of broth about three to four times a day will supply some hydration and give his stomach time to rest. When the vomiting has been under control for at least 24 hours, slowly reintroduce solid food by starting with a bland diet, such as chicken and rice.
Rice or Oatmeal
Boiled rice and cooked oatmeal are both easily digestible and bland enough to prevent further vomiting. Use either as part of a diet for a convalescing dog. Cook these grain thoroughly with extra water for better digestibility.
Chicken or Turkey
Mix chicken or turkey meat with rice or oatmeal to provide the protein component of a typical bland diet. Remove fat and skin from the meat, leave it unseasoned and simply boil until done. Chop up the meat and mix with the rice or oatmeal. Chicken or turkey baby food provides a substitute.
Mix plain, unflavored yoghurt with the chicken and rice meal to further aid digestion. If your sick dog is on antibiotics, the medication will kill the good bacteria along with the bad, and yoghurt will replenish the good bacteria in the intestines. Make sure the yoghurt contains L. acidophilus as an active ingredient.
Liver, Kidney and Heart
Add liver, kidney or heart of chicken or beef as part of the bland diet to entice your dog to eat. Clear these foods with your veterinarian in advance.
Some pet food manufacturers carry a line of prescription diets specifically formulated for convalescing dogs, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d and Royal Canin Recovery. A small amount of these high-calorie foods supply your dog with the energy needed for recuperation. They have a soft consistency and are highly palatable, which can tempt dogs with poor appetites to eat them without being force-fed; however, they may also be tube-fed, if necessary. These foods have highly digestible ingredients that ensure optimal nutrition and minimal stress to the system.