What to Feed a Sick Dog (When Chicken and Rice Isn’t An Option)

Don’t you just hate it when your dog is sick?

I feel ya! Last week, Koly and Fe were sick and I felt helpless.  It’s the worst and the fact that you can’t really do much to make them feel better makes it even harder. I just wish they could tell us what was wrong and how to fix it, don’t you? I have a few things I do to make my dogs feel better, but when they’re throwing up a bit of extra love isn’t enough.

Sometimes when your dog is throwing up, it’s hard to know what to feed them, if anything. You don’t want to make it worse, but at the same time, they to stay nourished and hydrated to get better.


No matter what, it’s always best to give your vet a quick call when your dog is sick. While most of the time a little puking is nothing to bee too alarmed about, it can also be a symptom of a larger illness. It’s always worth calling to touch bases with your vet and see if there is anything you should be worried about.

The next step is to withhold food for 12 – 24 hours and give the tummy a chance to calm the woof down. Once you’re ready to introduce food again, you want to choose foods that are healthy, but easy on the tummy and easy to digest, plus serve up a liquid that will entice your dog to drink enough.

Keep your dog hydrated with bone broth.

It’s super important that you keep your dog hydrated when they don’t feel well. Kolchak and Felix are notorious for refusing to drink when they’re sick, but I’ve always found that bone broth really gets them interested and it’s a great source of nutrients. Typical bone broth is made of chicken, but if you’re trying to figure out what to feed a sick dog with allergies, chicken isn’t always the answer. Bone broth is really easy to make using these instructions from Dr. Karen Becker and the best part is that you can make it with any protein you like. Last week, I made Quail bone broth, but you could make it with beef, lamb, venison, bison…whatever protein your dog can eat without itching.

If you can’t make bone broth, a regular onion-free broth will encourage drinking as well. You can add a supplements like the Honest Kitchen Perfect Form, an herbal supplement that contains papaya leaf, slippery elm and pumpkin seeds, to further aid in good digestion.

Serve small portions of easy to digest foods.

When your dog has been sick and they’ve had a short fast, you want to slowly reintroduce them to solid food. For small dogs, 2 – 3 tablespoons per serving is probably all they can handle. You could double that for a larger dog. A small snack every few hours will be easier on your dog’s stomach than one or two large meals.

The go to recipe for dogs who are sick is the classic: boiled chicken and rice. It’s gentle on the stomach, easy to digest and gluten free, which make it a great choice for dogs who have been throwing up. If you don’t feel like cooking, a gentle canned food, like the Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken, can be a good alternative.

Unfortunately, for dogs dogs with allergies, chicken and rice may not always be a great choice. 

Gluten free and grain free alternates to homemade chicken and rice for sick dogs

  • Choose a lean protein - Leaner proteins tend to have a bit less flavour than fattier choices. Bland foods are easy on an upset stomach. We used quail (as Felix is a huge fan of wildly expensive novel proteins. YAY ALLERGIES!), but you could use lean beef, lean lamb, venison – whatever your dog can eat. I tend to buy bone in meat and then cook the whole lot while I’m making the bone broth I mentioned above.
  • Eggs can be a great protein source for a sick dog. It’s highly digestible, very palatable and my dogs go wild over it. If chicken eggs are a no go, consider duck eggs. (Not sure where to find it? Most markets that cater to Asian cooking stock them, as do many farm-to-market type stores.)


  • Choose a gentle, digestible starch – For grain tolerant dogs, gluten free oatmeal can be a great choice. For dogs with allergies, tapioca pearls are my go to grain free alternative to chicken and rice. If your dog can tolerate boiled white potato, that would work too. (White potato can set off an allergic chain reaction in a lot of dogs, like Felix.)

After a few days, you can slowly introduce your dog’s regular food again.

Koly and Fe ate boiled quail with tapioca pearls and bone broth for two days last week, then I tried a small meal of their regular raw food. When they didn’t yak it up on me, I tried another, slightly larger meal and that one stayed down too. OHMIWOOF SUCCESS! VICTORY IS MINE!

I sucks when your dog is sick, but it’s a normal part of dog ownership. They’re going to get sick from time to time. All you can do is baby them a bit, make them some tasty, gentle food and ride out with them. This too shall pass.

What do you feed your dog when they’re sick?

Woofs, wags and thanks to Lisa Robinson, owner of Elemental Canine (our fav. pet shop) and nutritional wizard for sharing her thoughts on what to feed a sick dog. If you’re ever in my neighbourhood, I highly recommend dropping by and seeing all this great store has to offer! (Even if you’re not local, follow ‘em on Facebook for cute pictures and lots of great info!)

It’s Tasty Tuesday!

To join in, follow your hosts, Kol’s Notes & Sugar the Golden Retriever, grab the badge from our Tasty Tuesday page and add your link to this week’s hop!




  1. jana rade says

    Jasmine couldn’t have chicken, so we’d use turkey instead. It is actually lower in fat too. Jasmine generally had just meat and veggies, for bland diet I’d use turkey and green beans. As I’m not a fan of grains for dogs, I’d likely use a potato or sweet potato for starch for Cookie.

    Note about eggs – if using whole eggs, I’d beware of fat content in the egg yolks, if pancreatitis is suspected.

  2. says

    We have always fed scrambled eggs to any sick dogs in our family. When Huxley and Brychwyn had their terrible 48 hour flu in December, I made them certified humane scrambled eggs with organic boiled rice, steamed broccoli and unsweetened canned pumpkin. And for hydration I added water to the “yummies.” I am glad Jana mentioned the fat in egg yolks- I had never thought about that!

    • KolchakPuggle says

      Egg is one of the suggestions our vet always gives us. I was glad Jana mentioned the fats too. It’s never come up, though maybe that’s because we’ve never suspected pancreatitis before either!

    • jana rade says

      Eggs are wonderful nutrition and very digestible. I think they’re great in any non-pancreatitis cases. With pancreatitis, I’d be afraid to use them.

  3. Sue Kottwitz says

    Great tips. Luckily my dogs have no allergies, so I do rely on brown rice and chicken or turkey. Like Jana, I like to include some sweet potato.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      I have tried sweet potato, but found it must have been a little rich, since it wasn’t always successful at stopping the puke with some dogs. *sigh* What’s it like to have dogs that aren’t allergic to their own shadow?

  4. Jennifer Costello says

    Great information Jodi! Thanks for sharing! I totally could of used this last week too! Thankfully Leroy did very well on the boiled chicken and rice and we added his regular food back in slowly and all went well, but he was on a medication to help bind his stool up :) the vet also put him on a pro-biotic, which I think helped a lot!

    • KolchakPuggle says

      It’s so weird that all the dogs were pukey last week! Mine, yours, some other long distance friends I know. Maybe it was an internet virus, LOL!

      As we added food back in, I did give them a non-dairy probiotic, just to help rebuild the good bacteria. Even though the antibiotic I used was a gentle, natural one, I didn’t want to take any chances.

  5. says

    This is incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. This is something I really struggle with because of Coop’s allergies. I had no idea you could do a bone broth with lamb! I wonder if I could prep some in advance and freeze? He’s sick often enough – last night, most recently – that it would be nice to have something on hand.

    • KolchakPuggle says

      ABSOLUTELY~ I made a giant stock pot full and froze everything we didn’t use at the end of 48 hours in 1 c. portions. I find it easiest to freeze it in a silicone muffin tin, then once they’re frozen I put all the discs in a plastic freezer bag and defrost as needed.

  6. nailahbone says

    Aw, poor babies! :( I usually give Nailah canned pumpkin, homemade boiled rice with boiled chicken (very lightly salted) and boiled egg when she’s under the weather. If she’s really sick and vomiting a lot I give her pedialyte mixed with broth.

  7. says

    This is really useful. Thanks!

    I’ll add turkey to your list of plain, lean proteins. As long as I watch for sneaky added sodium, it’s the blandest thing Silas can eat.

    I usually start feeding Silas as soon as he’ll take something, because an empty stomach will also make him throw up. Silly acid reflux.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>