What To Feed A Sick Dog

Before we help you with what to feed a sick dog, we must immediately state that the vet should be your first port of call if you suspect that your dog is sick.

What To Feed A Sick Dog
Image by Allison Peterson from Pixabay

Under no circumstance should you consider giving your dog some over the counter drugs as that could be really detrimental.

That said, even after your vet has recommended some medications, your dog will need food in his stomach for the medications to be effective.

So, let’s find out what we could feed a sick dog that would encourage them to eat.

What You Can Feed A Sick Dog

The following are foods you can feed a sick dog:

  • Wet food
  • Broth
  • Baby food
  • Pumpkin

Now, let’s explain:

Wet Food

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Pate Wet Dog Food, FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Entree - (12) 13 oz. Cans

Now, we are not about to start a contest between dry food and wet food as both have their uses.

However, if you have a sick dog on your hands, you might want to keep the dry food away for some time.

First off, wet food is definitely easier to chew and digest. It will go down easily making it a good option if your dog’s ailment is accompanied by achy teeth and jaw.

Also, wet food has a nice aroma, at least for dogs. Dry food is basically like biscuits and you can’t smell it unless you put your nose to it.

However, with wet food, the aroma could fill the room just from opening the can.

This aroma could tempt your dog enough to come closer and have a taste. If the aroma appeals to their nose, they might be willing to try it.


On the other hand, if you do not want to switch your dog from dry food, you might be able to achieve the same ‘wet food effect’ by adding some broth to your dog’s food.

You could decide to make your own broth at home or buy commercially packed broth. Whichever one you get, adding some of it to your dog’s kibble will make said kibble easier to swallow.

You could also decide to feed your dog just broth. Cooked properly, meat or bone broth could be nutritionally OK for your dog for the period they are sick.

If you decide to go with bone broth, though, remember to remove the bones because cooked bones are actually dangerous for dogs.

Baby Food

Surprised? Well, baby food has been known to serve as a good enough replacement for dog food for a dog who cannot keep any other thing down.

Now, the baby food you pick has to be meat flavored (that is, chicken, turkey or beef). 

Also, check the ingredients to be sure that the meal you are about to purchase doesn’t contain anything that is dangerous for dogs like garlic and onions.


You could also consider adding pumpkin to your dog’s food if they are not allergic. Aside from numerous vitamins, pumpkin contains a healthy amount of dietary fiber which will help make digestion easier.

Now, whether you decide to cook the pumpkin yourself or buy a commercially packed can is entirely up to you. However, be aware that what you are looking for is unseasoned pumpkin. 

Giving your dog seasoned pumpkin will unsettle your dog’s stomach which is exactly what you do not want.

For serving size, a really small dog should be fine with one tablespoon of pumpkin while a really large dog should be fine with about four (4). Any size in between should be fine with any serving in between.

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Feeding A Sick Dog

What To Feed A Sick Dog
Image by PourquoiPas from Pixabay

Now, it is one thing to know what to feed a sick dog and it is quite another to get them to eat. Enticing them with delicious aromas might actually do the trick.

However, if that doesn’t work, you could try changing brands and see what happens.

Also, changing the room where your dog’s meal is served might make them curious enough to check out what is in their bowl.

While you concern yourself with what your dog is or is not eating, do not forget to make sure that they stay hydrated too.

Also, during this sick period is a time to shower your dog with even more love. Pet them and encourage them to eat.

However, do not force anything. And if they do happen to eat something, shower them with praises.

You could also consider allowing them eat from your hand. With you that close, they might want to eat.

Finally, if you have not noticed any changes to their eating habits and your dog still can’t keep food down despite all the changes you’ve made, report back to your vet.

What To Feed A Sick Dog — FAQs

How Much Should You Feed A Sick Dog?

Give your dog about 1 cup of food morning and evening and try to get him to eat that. It won’t be easy to get even that amount of food into your dog but you have to try.

Make sure that the food is bland to avoid any complications or irritations, considering that your dog is sick.

How Long Should I Wait To Take My Dog To The Vet For Not Eating?

Two days without eating is enough of a reason to take your dog to the vet if they seem generally healthy.

However, if your dog is ill, 24 hours without eating should make you take them to the vet. This is because a sick dog needs as much nutrients as they can get if they are to get well.

Should You Force Feed A Sick Dog?

Force feeding your dog might not be the solution to your dog not eating. Try other things like giving them wet food. The idea of feeding a sick dog wet food is, in addition to wet food being easier to chew, it carries with it an aroma that might persuade your dog to eat.

You could also try feeding your dog from your palm. That is, put some kibble in your palm and then encourage your dog to eat.

If, however, they are still not eating, go back to your vet.

Why Does My Dog Suddenly Not Want To Eat?

A dog losing their appetite is almost always because they are sick. And this sickness could really be anything from a simple stomach upset to something as grave as cancer.

However, your dog could decide to not eat for some other reasons including anxiety, stress and even because they are reacting to some type of drug.

Is There A Natural Appetite Stimulant For Dogs?

We do not recommend trying out any appetite stimulant, natural or therwise, without the express consent of your vet.

Stimulants and all such things are really tricky and without a prescription, one could get into serious trouble. If you really want to try something, try foods.

Will A Picky Dog Starve?

It’s not likely that a picky dog will hold out long enough to starve themselves. They’ll hold out as long as they can but will eventually cave when they get really hungry.

However, instead of waiting for your dog to get to that point, you could find out creative ways of serving them that food they do not like.

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