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dog parent must-knows
Sleepy brown dog

When your dog shows signs of an upset stomach — like vomiting or diarrhea — your veterinarian may recommend a bland diet for your dog. Your pup’s typical kibble may be too rich for their upset belly to handle. To help your dog’s digestive tract heal, vets may suggest switching your pup to more digestible foods.

What is a bland diet?

A bland diet consists of plain and easily digested foods with no added flavor, seasoning, or fats. Some of the most popular choices include lean proteins, like chicken and ground turkey, white rice, pumpkin, bone broth, and even baby food. There are also pre-made prescription bland foods your vet can prescribe. A bland diet can help your dog’s stomach settle and also provides essential nutrients your dog needs on the road to recovery.

👉 Bland diets aren’t well-balanced meals for dogs. It’s important not to feed your dog a bland diet in the long term. 

How to prepare a bland diet for your dog

Before starting your dog on a bland diet, it’s best to contact your vet to discuss whether you should withhold food and water for 12-hours or not.

While cases may vary, puppies and diabetic dogs should never fast.

Dr. Erica Irish

DVM

Once you’ve come up with a plan of action with your vet, the next step is making a bland diet meal for your dog. Below are some of the most popular bland diet recipes you can make to help your dog feel better.

The most popular choice: Chicken and rice

Ingredients: 

  • Skinless and boneless chicken breast
  • White rice

How to prepare:

  1. Set oven to 400°F
  2. Place chicken in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes, or until cooked.
  3. While chicken is cooking, follow instructions on the white rice packaging to prepare
  4. Once the chicken is done, let cool before shredding

👉 You can also boil the chicken if you’d prefer that method over baking.

Making chicken and rice for your dog is a popular and easy bland meal to help ease your dog’s digestion troubles. Why are these 2 foods the most recommended bland diet choice? Not only are these ingredients commonly found in commercial dog foods, but plain, skinless chicken and white rice are both digestible foods that are easy for upset stomachs to keep down.

For doggie diarrhea: Try pumpkin or sweet potatoes

Ingredients: 

How to prepare: 

  1. If using canned pumpkin or sweet potato, scoop the recommended amount into your dog’s regular dry food, and mix together before serving.
  2. If using Native Pet’s Pumpkin Powder, scoop the recommended amount depending on your dog’s weight with water and mix to create a puree. Once the puree is ready, mix it with your dog’s regular kibble and it’s ready to eat

Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are great options when your dog is experiencing diarrhea. Since they’re high in fiber and filled with nutrients, they can help get your dog’s stomach back on track.

Depending on your dog’s size, you can mix a scoop or two of pureed canned pumpkin or sweet potato with your dog’s regular dry food. You can also use Native Pet’s Pumpkin Powder, which is made with pumpkin, pumpkin seed, and apple powders. Their pumpkin powder can be easily stored for up to 2 years in your cupboard, helping to produce less waste.

👉 Never use pumpkin pie filling as it may contain the sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

Other human foods to help your dog’s tummy

If you don’t have chicken or pumpkin on hand, you may not need to rush to the store yet. Some other pantry staples can help settle your dog’s GI tract, including:

  • Baby food. That’s right, these pureed meals in a can are a great alternative for when your dog has an upset stomach. Go for ones that are meat-based and don’t contain garlic or onions.
  • Oatmeal. This fibrous and nutrient-dense meal can help settle your dog’s troubled tummy. Due to its high fiber content, too much oatmeal can cause vomiting and diarrhea, so make sure to take it slow when first giving it to your dog.
  • Vegetables. Peeled and cooked sweet potatoes, greens beans, and zucchini are safe and nutritious to give your dog when they have an upset stomach.
  • Scrambled eggs. Eggs are a great source of nutrients and protein for dogs. Whipping up some scrambled eggs with no added ingredients is another safe meal option to help your doggie’s stomach.

When to introduce your dog’s food again

Once your dog has not thrown up in several days, or after they’ve had 2 to 3 normal poops, you can slowly start mixing your pet’s regular food with the bland diet.

Follow the steps below for a slow and careful re-introduction:

  • Day 1 — Mix ¼ regular diet/food with ¾ bland diet
  • Day 2 — Mix ½ regular diet/food with ½ bland diet
  • Day 3 — Mix ¾ regular diet/food with ¼ bland diet
  • Day 4 — Feed regular diet only

👉 If at any point in the process your pet’s stools become soft, go back to a 100% bland diet and start over or call your vet for more guidance.

Signs your dog has an upset stomach

Some of the most common symptoms your dog has an upset stomach include:

When to take your dog to the vet

Some signs are more severe and need vet attention immediately. Dr. Irish emphasized, “Any dog who is experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhea for more than 24 hours should contact their regular vet or a veterinary emergency hospital as soon as possible.”

Call your vet if your dog shows the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Continuous vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Nervous pacing
  • Blood in Stool
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Uncontrollable drooling
  • Retching without anything coming up
  • Their stomach appears bloated or distended 

What can cause an irregular tummy?

Food allergies and sensitivities. Dogs can suffer from food allergies and sensitivities, like humans, resulting in an upset stomach. Some common food allergies include meat, soy, egg, or dairy products.

Breed. Any dog breed can suffer from an occasional sensitive stomach. But, certain breeds tend to experience more tummy troubles than others, including French bulldogs and Great Danes.

Overeating. Some dogs just can’t help themselves when they see food, which can result in overeating and an upset stomach. If your dog needs help regulating food, make sure to have planned and portioned meal times or try a slow feeder bowl.

Non-digestible substances. Dogs like to get into and eat things they shouldn’t, like trash or toys lying around, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Bilious vomiting syndrome. This condition happens when bile from a dog’s small intestine leaks into an empty stomach. The most common symptoms are nausea and vomiting in dogs, especially in the morning or at night.

Parvovirus. Puppies under 4 months of age and dogs that aren’t vaccinated are most at risk for catching the parvovirus. It spreads through contact with an infected dog or feces. Parvo causes symptoms such as loss of appetite and energy, fever, hypothermia, weight loss, and dehydration.

Gastritis. This is a common condition that causes inflammation in your dog’s stomach. It’s usually not serious, unless left untreated or if there are underlying health issues. The most common symptom is vomiting.

Gastroenteritis. This condition is an inflammation of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. It’s most commonly caused by an infection but can also occur due to food allergies, reactions to medications, ulcers, or certain cancers.

Pancreatitis. This is when your dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed. It can be caused by medications, toxins, hypothyroidism, diabetes, cancer, or if your pet is overweight. Symptoms include loss of appetite and energy, vomiting, hunching due to abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weakness.

Frequently asked questions

Are scrambled eggs considered bland food for dogs?

Yes, scrambled eggs are an acceptable bland food choice as long as they’re plain and not cooked with butter or other dairy products. Extra ingredients can make upset stomachs worse.

Is oatmeal a bland food for dogs?

Yes, plain oatmeal with no additives can help settle a dog’s stomach. Be careful, though. Oatmeal tends to have a high amount of fiber and can sometimes lead to increased stomach issues. So make sure to keep an eye on your dog when feeding them oatmeal for the first time.

Is pumpkin a bland food for dogs?

Yes, pumpkin is considered a bland food for dogs. Since it has high fiber content, pumpkin can help relieve your pet of constipation and/or prevent diarrhea. There are many ways you can prepare the pumpkin for your dog, including making it fresh or using canned or powdered options. If buying canned pumpkin, make sure it is 100% pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.

How long does it take for a bland diet to work on a dog?

This depends on what’s causing your dog’s upset stomach. It’s best to talk with your vet to come up with a plan for how long to keep your dog on a bland diet, as it’s best not to do it for an extended period due to a lack of essential nutrients.

How long should I feed my dog chicken and rice for diarrhea?

This depends on what your vet says. But, the average recommendation is you can start introducing their regular food back into the mix after 2 to 3 regular bowel movements.

How do I transition my dog from chicken and rice back to dog food?

Once your dog’s stomach seems to have settled (usually after 2 to 3 regular bowel movements or 2 to 3 days after no vomiting), you can start reintroducing their regular food. Do it slowly over 4 days.

What can I give my dog to harden their stool?

There are a variety of foods you can give your dog to help with diarrhea and to harden their stool. Some include white rice, pumpkin, probiotics, and specially-formulated dog foods, among others. It’s important to note that what works for one dog may not work for another. So make sure to pay attention to any symptoms, take notes of changes, and talk to your dog’s vet if issues get worse or you have questions.

What can you give a dog for throwing up?

If your dog vomits once or twice, you may be able to withhold food for 12 hours and then feed your dog a bland diet for a few days to reset their system. If your dog continues to vomit, though, it’s important to call your vet as there could be a more serious underlying issue.