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

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

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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. We visited the vet to make sure it wasn’t anything serious and the vet said the best thing to do was a bland diet and time. We just had to ride it out. It’s the worst and the fact that you can’t really do much to make them feel better makes it even harder. 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.

Whether you’re wondering can you give your dog Advil or an anti-nauseant or if you’re wondering exactly when to panic and head into the office, it’s always best to give your vet a call when your dog is sick. While sometimes 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 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. I hate this part. My puggle beleives food is love and even when he’s sick, he hates fasting.

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 sick 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; I shared my recipe here 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.

There are also a ton of brands that now sell bone broth in the canned food or frozen sections of your pet store or it can be purchased as a powder  – just remember to check the protein source before you buy it. The only thing worse than having a sick dog is probably having a sick dog who is also eating something they’re allergic to.

If you can’t make bone broth, a regular onion-free broth will encourage drinking as well, as would any of our flavoured dog water ideas. You can also add a supplement 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!

It 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.

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