This article was updated on April 18th, 2023
Dogs are no strangers to upset stomachs and diarrhea. Whether caused by a contagious bug or something they ate, veterinarians around the world have their go-to bland diet to help coax an upset digestive tract back to regularity.
In this article we’ll get to the bottom of why bland diets are so popularly used for mild digestive issues, how you can make them at home, which are the best to buy, and what to do if your dog simply doesn’t respond.
When Can a Bland Diet Help a Dog?
Bland diets are one of the most common prescriptions for mild digestive issues. This means vomiting and diarrhea that aren’t serious. The reason bland diets are so popular is because they are easily digestible, making it so that your pup’s digestive system doesn’t have to work too hard. Feeding a bland diet is a way of resting an already overworked or irritated system so that it can naturally heal and get back to its regular working order. Some of those signs that would warrant a bland diet include:
For some dogs, intermittent vomiting is a part of life. For others it comes on as quite a surprise. No matter how regularly your dog vomits, it’s never something that should be overlooked. If your pup has vomited once or twice in the last 24 hours and isn’t showing any other signs, a bland diet might be just what they’re looking for. For more info, check out What Should I Do If My Old Dog Throws Up.
On the other end of possibilities for a bland diet is diarrhea. This is the intestine’s way of saying there’s something irritating going on, and it can be a response to something they ate, an infectious disease, inflammation, or parasites. Diarrhea that is intermittent, semi-solid or without any other signs might respond well to a bland diet. To read more about diarrhea, look into Dog has Diarrhea for 2-3 Days-Is it Serious?
11 Homemade Bland Diets to Help Your Dog
The foundation of bland dog diets is low fat, low fiber foods that are soft and easy to digest. They often only include one source of protein and one carbohydrate to simplify the recipe. Some additional ingredients may be added to help solidify diarrhea or probiotics to help balance out the digestive system. Next we’ll go over some potential ingredients to include in a homemade bland diet. You can choose one protein source and one carbohydrate and mix in a 1:2 ratio, so one cup meat to 2 cups carbs.
1. Bland Protein Options
- Boiled chicken with bones, fat, and skin removed. Don’t add any seasonings or cook in oil.
- Lean ground beef, browned and drained. Don’t add any seasonings.
- Pork loin with fat removed and cooked without any seasonings or oils.
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Egg whites scrambled and cooked without seasonings or milk.
2. Bland Carbohydrate Options
- Boiled white or brown rice without additional seasonings.
- Plain, cooked pasta without seasonings or butter.
- Plain boiled sweet potato or white potato without additional seasonings.
- Plain cooked oatmeal, of course no added sugar!
3. Helpful Additions
- Probiotics are every digestive upset’s best friend. Adding some commercial probiotic, such as Probios, to your homemade diet can really help any digestive issue. Otherwise, adding a bit of plain yogurt can have similar effect.
- Pumpkin or banana can help increase the fiber intake of a dog that has diarrhea. Adding some plain canned pumpkin or banana chunks can add a bit of flavor while they’re helping to solidify mild cases of diarrhea.
Best Commercial Bland Diets
If you’re no whiz in the kitchen, you may instead choose to get your dog a commercial bland diet. Some good ones are:
Here’s a food that is easily digestible and has natural fibers to help bulk up bowel movements. It also comes in many flavors to satisfy whatever craving your dog is having.
Here’s a food that’s just like homemade. With only two ingredients, this food is designed to be easily digestible for those interim days when your dog’s digestive system is just a little out of whack.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
Another great option for short-term feeding is this freeze-dried option. There is a variety of flavors and ingredients available in this easy-to-digest formula.
How Long Should I Feed My Dog a Bland Diet?
With any luck you’ll have contacted your veterinarian when you first noticed signs of digestive upset in your pup. They will be able to advise you on the proper amount of time to feed a bland diet based on your dog’s progress.
However, generally speaking, you’ll want to continue with the bland food for two to three days after your pup is feeling better again. This means that you’ll continue the diet for 2-3 days after the last vomiting bout and soft bowel movement.
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Once they start feeling better, transition back to a normal diet by mixing their old food in with the bland diet. Start with 25% old food, 75% bland, increase to 50-50, and then 75% old food, 25% bland, then 100% food over the course of about one week.
When a Bland Diet is Not Enough and You Need to See a Vet
Bland diets may be just the fix your dog’s mild digestive upset needed, but they don’t cure everything. If your dog’s vomiting or diarrhea don’t start to improve within a couple of days once starting the bland diet, or if they get worse, see your veterinarian.
Also, if your pup happens to have other signs, such as a fever, dehydration, bloody stools or vomit, see your veterinarian without waiting. Of course, if your dog isn’t eating, a bland diet won’t even get the opportunity to help, so instead, see your vet.
The vet is going to want to know when the issues started, what you have tried and if things have gotten better or worse. It may help to have pictures or samples of the vomit or diarrhea for further diagnostics.
Dog Bland Diet FAQs with the Vet
Is scrambled egg a good part of a bland diet?
Scrambled eggs can be used as a protein source in a homemade bland diet. However, you’re better off to leave the egg yolks out and only scramble the whites. Egg yolks can be too high in fat for some dogs and exacerbate their digestive problems.
How long does it take a bland diet to work on a dog?
Most mild cases of vomiting and diarrhea will start to clear up after a couple of days on a bland diet. These are cases in which a dog ate something they shouldn’t have and the irritation to their digestive system isn’t bad. However, more severe cases may not respond at all to a bland diet and will need veterinary care.
What can I give my dog instead of rice as part of a bland diet?
You can replace rice in your bland diet recipe with another carbohydrate such as sweet or white potato, plain pasta, or oatmeal.
How fast does pumpkin work as part of a bland diet?
In some cases, pumpkin can improve diarrhea in as little as 6 hours. However, 24-48 hours is more commonly when you’ll see some improvement.