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Reintroducing Food to a Sick Pet

Reintroducing Food to a Sick Pet
March 1, 2022

After fasting your pet for 12-24 hour as directed by your veterinarian, there hasn’t been any vomiting, and your pet has been able to keep down small quantities of liquids, you may then offer a bland diet. A bland diet is a diet that is easy on the dog’s stomach ,similar to the BRAT diet in humans.

Your veterinarian may prescribe a commericially available bland diet (such as Hill’s i/d or Royal Canin GI diet) or ask you to prepare a home made bland diet.  

Bland Diet Recipe

You will need:

  • Boiled rice
  • White meat chicken or extra-lean hamburger

The recipe must contain 75% boiled white rice, and 25% low-fat protein (the chicken or ground beef). The rice is the bulk of the meal for the purpose of binding while the meat is mostly there to work as an enticing ingredient to encourage the dog to eat.

  • If you choose chicken, make sure the skin is taken off and there are no bones.
  • If you choose hamburger, make sure the meat is lean and the fat is drained off after cooking. Fat may cause pancreatitis and exacerbate the upset stomach.
  • Note: Do not add any oils, fats, or spices to the bland diet!

Offer the bland diet in three or four small meals throughout the day for a few days until your dog is feeling better.  The best way to begin this process is to test whether your dog is ready for food by starting with a small amount such as a tablespoon. If your pet can keep it down successfully, you can then offer more food two hours later. If he’s still doing well on it, the meals can gradually become larger and spaced further apart. For example, you would go from two tablespoons every two hours to ½-1 cup every three or four hours.

What if my dog does not like the bland diet?

If you do not have any rice and chicken or ground beef or if your dog does not like the bland diet, you can try to feed meat-based baby food with no onion or garlic in it. This is very bland, and most dogs find it tasty. Warming the canned food up or adding a little bit of warm broth (again, with no onion or garlic in it) may make the food more enticing. Keep in mind though that a lack of appetite suggests he is not feeling very well, which is indicative that a vet visit is a better option than trying to force him to eat.

A bonus Ingredient:

  • Adding a dollop of plain yogurt or cottage cheese will help sooth the inflamed stomach and intestines, especially if the upset stomach is accompanied by diarrhea.
  • Probiotics such as FortiFlora may also help treat the intestinal tract if your pet has had diarrhea by promoting the growth of good bacteria.
  • Plain canned pumpkin (without spices, not the pie mix) may further help with diarrhea as it firms up the stools. One to four tablespoons, depending on your pet’s size, would help.