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What To Feed a Sick Dog (With No Appetite)

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Determine what to feed a sick dog based on the reason for their illness and always consult a vet
  • Best foods for a sick dog include white rice and chicken, shredded chicken breasts, bone broth, wet food, fish, pumpkin, sweet potato
  • Over-the-counter medications like Pepto Bismol, Pepcid, and Imodium can be used with caution after consulting a vet
  • Choose the type and amount of food based on the dog's individual traits such as illnesses, weight, and food preferences
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Monday 4 May 2020
Last updated on
Monday 19 June 2023
feeding sick dogs
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Your dog can get an upset stomach for a variety of reasons, such as illness or anxiety. This can lead to your dog feeling unwell, perhaps they are vomiting or producing diarrhea. All of these factors may cause your pup to lose their appetite. We are commonly asked what is the best food for sick dogs? Well, we have compiled a list so you know what to feed a sick dog (with no appetite).

It is difficult to get your dog to eat when they are not feeling themselves. We have found and detailed a number of appetizing or easy-to-eat food for sick dogs. But remember to always consult a vet to help treat the overall problem and if you have any worries at all.

Determining What to Feed Your Sick Dog

Choosing what to feed your sick dog is not as simple as just giving them any food that they won’t throw up. It all depends on what is making your dog feel unwell. The first step is to take your dog to the vet to get a diagnosis and start the correct treatment if needed.

If your dog is feeling unwell, maybe because of a cold or they ate something that didn’t agree with them, you should feed them bland food. This kind of food will help settle their stomach and reduce the chances of vomiting. Additionally, it will help to calm down your dog’s stomach and make its feces less watery.

However, if your dog has a more serious illness like cancer, it will need a specific diet. For example, they may require certain nutrients or different proportions of nutrients than a healthy dog. This is because their body needs help in different areas, and different types of food can be beneficial for this. That’s why it’s important to always consult your vet first. They can help diagnose and treat the issue more quickly and in more ways than one

Here we explain how to prepare each food type (if needed) and what benefits they can bring. Furthermore, we will specify what illnesses and diseases these food types are best suited for and why.

best foods for sick dogs
List of the Best Foods to Give a Sick Dog with No Appetite!

White Rice and Chicken

This is a great food for sick dogs as it is bland but full of energy. It is well-known to feed your dog this combo if they are vomiting, producing diarrhea, or generally lack-luster or reluctant to eat. These two foods lack strong flavor, so they can be usually be kept down by dogs suffering from vomiting. Furthermore, it can minimize the churning of a dog’s stomach, or at least not make it worse while providing the pup with nutrients. Sometimes, when your dog is feeling ill, they may further wretch and vomit because they have an empty stomach, so it is important to encourage them to eat plain foods like these.

White rice is full of carbohydrates, and chicken has a lot of protein. Protein is great for repair and carbs can give your dog a long-lasting energy boost to help them feel better.

Shredded Chicken Breasts

As previously mentioned, chicken is both appetizing to your dog, has health benefits and can be eaten easily because it is plain. It is arguably the perfect food for sick dogs. Remember, make sure the chicken is plain, there are no extra flavorings added, and barely any oil if any to keep your dog’s tummy settled.

Bake two chicken breasts at 350 Fahrenheit for thirty minutes on an aluminum foil-lined baking tray. Keep an eye on them throughout the baking to make sure they aren’t burning and be sure that the chicken is cooked throughout. The inside should not be pink at all. Drain the tray of excess oil and shred the chicken using two forks to pull apart the meat into small slices. If it is not soft enough to do this, you can leave the chicken to cook for another ten minutes.

Bone Broth

This is a type of liquid meal your dog can easily lap up, even with dental pain or a swollen throat. It also sits easily in your dog’s stomach and does not usually cause churning or vomiting.

Bone broth is easy to make for your pup and a great solution when you do not know what to feed your sick dog. Combine animal bones from butchers such as beef or pork bones in a pot and add some dog-friendly vegetables such as carrots. Research vegetables that are dog safe or fine in small quantities, such as celery or potatoes when diced finely. Add a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Put all the ingredients into a crockpot and cook on a low heat for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Strain the bones from the broth and it is ready to serve. In cases of a very upset stomach, consider just serving the liquid at first.

Wet food

The main method to encourage your sick dog to eat when they have no appetite is through appetizing wet food. This can often have a more appealing smell to your dog, especially if you heat the food up in a microwave for ten to thirty seconds. You can purchase and use wet food from a pouch, dry food mixed with a little bit of water or even some types of baby foods. Although be very careful when giving your dog baby food, you need to check the ingredients to be sure that there is nothing detrimental in the ingredients list.

Wet food can be nutritional but is most often recommended for dogs who are not eating because of anxiety or healing dental pain. The food can be quickly and easily consumed. Thereby, minimizing healing dental pain and making the process of eating much easier for nervous dogs.


Fish has quite a prominent smell, one that is appetizing for your dog and can encourage even a sick dog to eat. However, make sure the fish is cooked as raw fish can be dangerous food for sick dogs. You can boil some de-boned pieces of cod and try offering them to your pup to encourage appetite.

This food is soft, so can be good for dogs with jaw or teeth problems. It can also be beneficial for those who are reluctant to eat out of anxiety or depression. You can give this to mothers suffering from postnatal depression but make sure that they are receiving other nutritional goods as well. They need high nutrients and minerals for them and to breastfeed their pups. If your dog has an upset stomach, a small amount of fish can help encourage their appetite, but too much can upset their stomach further.


Adding pumpkin to your dog’s food or even encouraging them to lick some off a spoon can help treat diarrhea. This is because pumpkin has a high percentage of fiber in it, therefore it can help solidify your dog’s stool and settle their stomach. Pumpkin is also known as a prebiotic, something which naturally increases the healthy bacteria growth in the stomach. This can settle upset stomachs, minimize vomiting and diarrhea and help your dog feel better.

Do not use too much pumpkin, as the increased fiber can instead lead to your dog being constipated. Start off with a very small amount and increase to a few tablespoons a day maximum. Use plain pumpkin without the skin or seeds. Do not use any pumpkin pie flavoring or anything with pumpkin in it, as this can and may contain toxic ingredients.

Baby Food

Baby food can be great food for sick dogs, it kick-starts their appetite through smell, is easy to ingest and easy to keep down. Grab a jar or pouch of this at your local supermarket and it can be beneficial to most dog illnesses. Make sure to only use it to kick start your dog’s appetite, as it can be high in fats, carbohydrates and increase the likelihood of your dog becoming a picky eater once they feel better.

You have to be very careful with baby food though because of the possible ingredients. Dogs have many commonly used food they have an intolerance too, and many that can make them very ill. For example, avoid any baby food with garlic or onion, even just small amounts of flavoring as these can be dangerous.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is great for your dog’s intestinal issues. However, this should never be served raw as they can upset your dog’s stomach more and even lead to intestinal blockages. Cook these through thoroughly, removing the skin or even consider making sweet mashed potato for your pooch. The high level of fiber and various vitamins in sweet potatoes make them great for settling your dog’s stomach and making them feel themselves again.

If you peel one to two sweet potatoes, cut them up into small chunks and boil them for ten to twenty minutes, they should become soft and easy to push a knife through. Pour them into a kitchen strainer and allow the water to move through it into the sink. Place them back into a container and mash all the pieces until smooth. You can put any excess mash in the fridge. Give a small amount to start your dog eating again and to thicken their stool.

dog stools consistency
A chart to help you define your dog’s stool consistency.

Over-The-Counter Medications

We would always recommend consulting your vet before buying and trying any over the counter medication or appetite stimulant for dogs. These can be to increase appetite, reduce nausea or even thicken stool. However, the side effects or medication itself can interfere with your dog’s current health, so always consult them beforehand to make sure they will actually be beneficial to your dog.

Three popular over the counter medications for diarrhea, nausea, and loss of appetite in dogs include Pepto Bismol, Pepcid, and Imodium.

  1. Pepto Bismol – This is a liquid medication that reduces nausea, diarrhea, and aids with digestion. One teaspoon should be given for every ten pounds of your dog’s weight, every eight hours. Your dog should only need a few doses, otherwise, take them back to the vet.
  2. Pepcid – This product decreases stomach acid production and reflux, making your dog less likely to vomit and will settle their stomach. Give 0.25 mg per pound of your dog’s weight, twice a day.
  3. Imodium – This medication decreases diarrhea and is an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce nausea. One pill every 25-50 pounds of weight is the dosage, but ask your vet for exacts as this medication carries more risks.

Sick Dog Feeding – FAQ

Finally, here are the most frequently asked questions about trying to increase appetite in your sickly dog.

What is the best food for a sick dog?

There is no one food that is better than all others when looking at what to feed a sick dog. It depends on your dog and why they are ill. If they are simply ill, it is probably better to give them plain foods such as chicken and rice until they feel better. However, if they are not eating because of anxiety, for example, you just brought them home, then it is better to give them something appetizing. Over time they will trust you more and the good smelling and tasting food will encourage them to eat.

If their lack of appetite is because of something more serious, such as cancer, you must consult a vet to see what nutrients and minerals your pup needs. You can then find the appropriate food. But ultimately, you would want something easy to digest in this scenario.

How can I solve my dog’s stomach problems?

The answer to this question can rarely be sorted by one appetite supplement alone, you need to find the root cause. It may link back to your dog’s dietary requirements, or they may even just be a picky eater. However, an ongoing digestive or stomach problem is usually a symptom of a larger problem. Take your dog to the vets and allow them to run whatever tests they feel are necessary. This could include blood or stool tests, or even just monitoring their behavior. Unfortunately, though, we cannot give you one answer, as every dog and situation is different.

Is it good to feed scrambled eggs to a dog with an upset stomach?

Your dog can eat all forms of eggs that are cooked through, as they can actually be nutritionally beneficial to dogs. It is the added ingredients and cooking that affects whether they can upset your dog’s stomach or not. Never give your dog raw eggs, they contain bacteria such as salmonella which can make your dog feel very poorly. Referring back to the main question, we would recommend not feeding your dog eggs whilst they feel ill.

This is because if the eggs are a little undercooked or overcooked, the added sensitivity of your dog’s stomach could make them feel quite unwell. Furthermore, scrambled eggs often need some oil or fat added to prevent them from sticking to the pan, this can often make your pups feel extra queasy.

Should I give tuna to my dog with an upset stomach?

Tuna can be beneficial to dogs both normally and when they are ill. They are a great source of natural proteins, one which most pups love the taste and smell of. It is usually easily digestible and will rarely make your dog feel ill. However, this is only the case for plain tuna. Tuna which comes from cans can be packaged with oil. An ingredient that is known for causing an upset stomach even when your dog is completely healthy. No tuna that has been canned with other ingredients should be given to your dog. This is due to their sensitivity to oil.

Ultimately, your dog’s health should always be discussed with a vet if you are concerned. Consult your vet on their opinion on what to feed a sick dog. However, some of these food types can help your already diagnosed pups start to feel better and more like themselves. You should choose the type of food and the amount you give to your dog based on their individual traits. Such as illnesses, weight and disliked or liked foods. This way, you can find the food types that are most likely to initiate your dog’s diet again. Alongside helping them to feel better and act normal.

2 comments on “What To Feed a Sick Dog (With No Appetite)”

  1. Trudi Stamp

    I have a German shepherd dog who is 13 and has stopped eating for a week now. Blood and urine tests show her in renal failure. I have tried everything I can think of to tempt her including chicken breast with the skin on, to cooked ham or corned beef. I bought her some salmon today and she ate that but a tiny amount. she is also eating the cocktail sausages (which I know aren’t good for her but I need to get the tablets into her). She is still not eating enough to keep a bird alive. The vet says that with all of her other problems (arthritis and incontinence) she has got a lot going against her, but I don’t want to give up. can anyone thing of anything else I could give her?

    1. t mcdonald

      i am in same with my dog i got lactse fee yogurt and almond milk but still hardly eating anything did eat a bit of raw carrot this morning i have decied to give him anything he wants to try to mae him eat

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