What to feed a sick dog with no appetite

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You may notice that sometimes your dog doesn’t want to eat its food or is refusing its favorite treats.

While there are many reasons that your dog suddenly turns its nose up at food or avoids eating, there is the possibility that it is health-related. When dogs get sick, they don’t have much appetite to eat.

In most cases, if your dog doesn’t want to eat, that doesn’t indicate that you must take your dog to the vet. Many dogs are averse to eating when they aren’t feeling up to par. However, occasionally it can be a sign of a more severe problem. 

Even with help, feeding your sick dog can be challenging. You may be dealing with more problems than your dog not eating, such as cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, which can also be stressful and time-consuming. 

What to feed a sick dog with no appetite?

There are several foods you can feed your sick dog with no appetite. Providing a more bland-food diet can help your dog eat and get its digestive tract in order so that it feels ready to eat regularly again.

Here are some helpful suggestions to feed your pup when it’s feeling sick and doesn’t want to eat. These foods can help alleviate sickness symptoms and still provide your dog with nutrition to help it recover quickly.

What To Feed a Sick Dog That Will Not Eat?

Before you try to feed your dog, it helps to know the reason why it doesn’t want to eat. For example, if your dog just underwent surgery with a vet technician, it is very likely they don’t have much appetite for a few days.

Your vet should discuss with you and suggest what you can feed your dog in the meantime until its appetite returns. 

In other instances, your dog could have a cold or just be feeling nauseous due to something it ate. Nothing alarming, but it can still help you get an accurate assessment from your veterinarian before you try to feed it.

If you have already attempted to feed your dog with little success, your vet may have some alternate options to help.

Your veterinarian can also provide suggestions for helpful, bland foods they can digest and are less likely to vomit up again. Here are some bland foods to help settle your dog’s stomach and allow it to regain an appetite.

Vet checking dog

Best Foods for Sick Dogs

Chicken and White Rice

Chicken and rice is an excellent choice for sick dogs, primarily because it is bland food but full of energy.

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You may need to feed your dog these two foods together, particularly if they have diarrhea, are vomiting, or just seems to have no appetite. 

Your dog’s stomach problems due to indigestion or other digestive problems may require this combination of foods. Chicken and white rice help to minimize stomach-churning. 

And, if your dog continues to gag outwardly with an empty stomach, it needs something in its stomach to help combat the stomach pain.

Combining carbs and proteins from these foods provides energy and repair for your sick pup.

Bone Broth

Sometimes, your dog doesn’t even have the energy or capacity to chew its food because of lacking energy from being sick, having a sore throat, or tooth pain. Liquids are easy for your dog to lap up and provide necessary nutrition.

Bone broth is an easy solution when you are unsure what to feed your sick dog. It’s easy to make, too – you just combine animal bones in a pot.

You can add some dog-safe vegetables such as carrots or finely diced celery. Add in some olive oil and apple cider vinegar, and then cook either in the crock pot on low for a day or over the stove on medium heat for a few hours. Strain out the bones and serve to your dog.

Chicken Breasts

You can skip the rice and just give your dog some chicken since it has good health benefits and can be digested easily.

Don’t add flavorings (you don’t know if they could harm your dog further); just shred up the breasts once cooked to feed your sick dog. It will help settle nausea and provide essential protein and nutrients.

Wet Dog Food

The smell of wet or canned dog foods can be appetizing to dogs who aren’t interested in eating.

Wet dog food has nutritional and comes highly recommended when your dog isn’t eating due to healing from dental surgery or pain or if dealing with anxiety.

The food is quickly and easily consumed and digested. If you heat the dog food in the microwave a bit, it helps appeal to your dog’s sense of smell.

You can purchase wet dog food in cans or a pouch. You can also mix it with some dry dog food, a little bit of water, or even some baby foods. Just ensure that the baby food you use is safe for your dog to eat.

Baby Food

The great thing about baby food for a sick dog is the fact that it’s already blended to be easily digestible, and most of it doesn’t contain many additives, so it’s safe for your dog. It can be helpful to kickstart your dog’s appetite because it has an enticing smell.

Avoid baby food jars with garlic or onion since these flavorings or ingredients can be dangerous for dogs.

You also don’t want your dog to become too attached to the baby food because it might prevent your dog from returning to regular food once it feels better.


Yes, pumpkin is an excellent food for a sick dog, particularly if your dog is suffering from diarrhea.

Pumpkin has a lot of fiber and is prebiotic, so it helps keep your dog from dehydrating and prevents diarrhea. It helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. 

Be cautious not to use too much pumpkin in your dog’s food since it can lead to constipation. Add just a tiny amount to food or mix it with water in liquid form.

Make sure you also use just plain pumpkin, without any skin or seeds. Don’t use pumpkin pie from a can or anything else that has pumpkin flavor because the ingredients may not be suitable for your dog.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are similar to pumpkins, and they are great for digestive issues for your dog. They have high levels of fiber and plenty of vitamins to help restore and repair your dog’s stomach problems. 

Do not serve raw sweet potatoes to your dog; boil them in small chunks after removing the skin. Strain them out, and then you can mash or blend them up until smooth.

Only give your dog a little bit of the mash to start so that your dog will start eating again. 

Over-The-Counter Drugs

First, always consult with a veterinarian and get a diagnosis before purchasing any over-the-counter medications to treat your dog’s poor appetite.

Drugs have side effects, so it is best to have the recommendation or prescription directly from the doctor so that you know it will help your sick dog.

The experts at Bond Vet in Boston share that there are a few popular medications that help to treat dogs with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea:

  • Imodium – this medicine helps reduce diarrhea and works to eliminate nausea. Ensure you ask your vet for exact dosage amounts before administering them to your dog.
  • Pepto Bismol – helps with digestive issues, including indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea. One teaspoon per ten pounds of weight is the recommendation for your dog, but again, it is most helpful to consult with a vet on the dosage amount. 
  • Pepcid – if your dog suffers from a build-up of stomach acid, this medicine helps to eliminate acid production, so your dog is less likely to vomit. 

What Food is Best For a Sick Dog?

Plain foods are the best option if your dog is ill or not feeling well. No specific plain food is better for your dog, so you may have to experiment to find which food your dog is more likely and willing to eat.

Try a few different suggestions above and see if your dog feels up to eating.

If your dog isn’t eating due to anxiety or recent surgery, you can try to give them something more appetizing.

If your dog is genuinely ill, none of the foods mentioned are meant to replace necessary medical care. Feeding a bland food diet is helpful with discomfort or pain. 

Feeding a sick dog can feel stressful because, as their owner, you want to ensure they are getting nutrition and not make things worse.

After a few days on plain restricted foods, you can work to try to feed your real dog food. If your dog was throwing up or had a bad bout of diarrhea, wait half a day before trying to provide them any food so that if it is a virus, it has time to work through their system.

In some cases, your dog might suffer from a severe health ailment such as pancreatitis, kidney disease, diabetes, or something else.

They may need dog food more tailored to help treat their specific condition, so a veterinarian diagnosis is necessary.

Being a responsible dog owner means keeping your dog healthy and happy. Feeding your dog bland or plain foods when they feel poorly should help them regain their strength and feel better. 

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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