Yes, a bland diet for dogs just sounds boring, dull, and tasteless. Despite having an unappetizing ring to it, this food diet can help ease a dog’s pain from a stomach upset.
Now, you might think that your dog’s digestive system is indestructible (given all the types of food or objects they munch on when you’re not looking). However, something can always trigger your furry pal’s gut to malfunction.
When your dog suddenly starts to gag or vomit after eating something that didn’t agree with their stomachs, what do you do?
Enter: Bland diet for dogs.
Your veterinarian, at one point, probably advised you to give this after an episode of diarrhea and vomiting. If you are a pet parent who values pet care but is clueless about what a bland diet is, how to make it, and when to give this to your dog, read on.
We are here to provide you with all the need-to-know information about this diet and more.
Bland Diet For Dogs: What It Is and What It’s For
True to its name, a bland diet lacks flavor or taste since it is made minus all the ingredients that make a dog food flavorful – fat, salt, and seasoning.
Veterinarians often recommend this gastrointestinal-friendly, low-residue diet as a home remedy and a short-term fix for dogs with an upset stomach.
A bland diet is given to dogs with GI problems to give their stomachs a breather. Since their digestive tract is in disarray, soft and easy-to-digest food will help their stomach take the needed rest until such time that everything goes back to normal.
Be reminded, though, that a bland diet is not the cure for all types of GI issues.
Understanding Gastrointestinal Problems
Digestive upsets are pretty common in dogs. This disorder can happen to anyone’s dog, even if you’re the type of pet parent who gives 100% care and attention.
GI troubles refer to any sort of disruption in the dog’s digestive system – from the process of swallowing the food, absorption of its nutrients up to its elimination.
The symptoms of indigestion or any GI problem in dogs are almost similar to humans. A dog who has to put up with gut intolerance also shows signs of vomiting, excess gas, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
When it comes to its causes, MSDVetManual states that this disease can be infectious and non-infectious in nature. Here’s a rundown of some of the possible causes of indigestion:
- Foreign organisms like viruses, bacteria, and parasites
- Eating indigestible or poor-quality food
- Diet change
- Swallowing foreign objects which can lead to obstruction
- Ingestion of chemicals
Here’s the tricky part. Your dog’s GI symptoms can also be caused by a more severe ailment such as kidney disease and cancer, as well as liver and adrenal gland disorders.
4 Things You Need to Consider Before Giving A Bland Diet
It’s normal to feel worried in case your energetic dog suddenly has bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. If you see your dog vomiting, you might want to help your dog by giving a bland diet.
Before taking action into your own hands, make sure to take into account the following facts:
- A bland diet is only used to soothe your pet’s messed-up stomach and will only work for mild diarrhea or a single episode of vomiting. If your not sure about the severity of your dog’s condition, getting in touch with your vet should always be the first item on your to-do list. Following your veterinarian’s instructions regarding your pet’s diet is vital.
- A bland diet is NOT a complete and balanced diet. This type of food is specifically formulated to be highly ingestible. As such, nutrients often found in well-balanced diets are not factored in. Care to know more? This diet is not made for long-term feeding and can only be given for the short term.
- A bland diet is not ideal for dogs diagnosed with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and food allergies. Most food allergies are caused by a meat source such as chicken, eggs, lamb, and beef. Since bland diets often include meat, giving this to dogs with food sensitivities is not recommended. It’s a different story, though, if you know the specific type of protein that triggers your dog’s allergic reaction.
- Give a puppy a bland diet only if your veterinarian gives his/her go-signal. Puppies (dogs under a year old) with an upset stomach or diarrhea need special attention since they lose water more rapidly. Their health also tends to decline faster compared to adult dogs. The intervention of your vet is required in this situation.
More Need-To-Know Facts
While more studies are needed to prove bland diets’ effect on a dog’s vomiting and diarrhea, doing so can’t hurt your pet.
As pet parents who genuinely care for their dog, we can’t help but feel uneasy whenever your pal shows some signs of distress. Changing their diet might just help settle down their upset systems.
What makes up a GI-friendly or bland diet recipe?
According to 1-800 PetMeds, apart from being soft and easy-to-digest, bland diets or dog foods should also have the following characteristics:
- Low in fat
- Low in fiber
- High in simple carbs or good GI carbohydrate
- Free from additives
- High in digestible protein source
Ingredients To Include
Since your dog’s stomach needs to take a break, dog owners should avoid giving their pet dog foods that are high in fat or anything high in fiber.
Bland diet recipes often include a single protein source and a simple carbohydrate. Keep the rice to protein ratio somewhere between 50:50 to 75:25. Ingredients that promote the formation of firmer stools can also be added.
To know more about the ingredients that you can feed your dog, check out the list below.
Acceptable protein or meat sources
These include boiled or pan-fried extra lean ground beef, chicken breast, ground turkey, low-fat hamburger, pork loin, fish, eggs, and low-fat cottage cheese with low sodium content.
Note: Meat should be deboned and skinned, unsalted and drained off fat, and served at room temperature
Simple carb sources
Starch sources include white rice, brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, tapioca, oatmeal, and pasta.
Note: Make sure they’re cooked and tender
Low- fiber vegetables and fruits
You can add cucumber, lettuce, carrots, boiled pumpkin or canned pumpkin, watermelon, and bananas.
Note: Veggies must not be eaten raw and must be peeled and cut into small pieces
Recommended Feeding Instructions
If you’re worried that you’ll have a hard time feeding a bland diet to your pets, don’t be. Queasy pets with an upset stomach (more often than not) find these types of foods appealing.
To help your dogs get their systems back on track, make sure to follow these steps:
- It is advised to keep pets off food after an episode of vomiting or diarrhea. This will help relax your dogs’ intestinal tract and rest their bowel. Be reminded, though, that it’s best to seek your veterinarian’s help, especially when dealing with puppies or dogs with serious health problems.
- While your pets are fasting, make sure to offer water or ice chips to keep them hydrated. You can give them ¼ cup of water after 2-3 hours. Check as well if they’re able to hold down the water. If they’re not having trouble, offer them more water after 2-3 hours.
- If your dog can drink water, you can gradually feed your dog the bland food. The amount of food to give will depend on the size of your dog. If your dog is small, you can start by giving him/her a teaspoon of food.
- Small, frequent meals are highly recommended. Thus, it’s best to give this diet every 6-8 hours.
- Ideally, you should notice an improvement in your dog’s condition after 24 hours. If you see positive results, you can feed this to your dog for 2-3 days. In case your dog’s condition worsens, make sure to discuss this with your veterinarian.
- Gradually reintroduce your pet’s typical food by mixing this into the bland diet (50:50). If your pet can tolerate it, bit by bit, increase the amount of regular food.
Alternative Bland Diets
If you’re a busy fur mom of dad who does not have time to whip up a homemade bland diet but still wants to help your dog and give them proper pet care, consider giving these alternative GI-friendly foods to your pet:
- Commercial bland diet products. These include Eukanuba Veterinary Diet Low Residue, Science Prescription Diet I/D, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Intestinal HE. The Arlington Animal Hospital approves these products.
- Bone Broth. This liquid meal is easy on the tummy. You can make broth using beef marrow bones. Let it simmer in water on low heat for 24 hours. Adding broth to your dogs’ meal can also help increase their appetite.
- Baby Food. Your vet might recommend you to feed your dog stage-II baby foods made of meat products such as chicken, turkey, and land. Make sure that the baby food does not contain onion powder or garlic.
Easy-To-Make Dog Bland Diet Recipes
Now, if you have some time to spare to give your pets some extra love and care, here are a couple of vet-approved recipes you can try:
Chicken And Rice
A mixture of white rice and shredded chicken breast, the whole lot is a combination of 75% white rice and 25% meat. If your doggo is allergic to chicken, you can also use fish. You can also use brown rice if you’re out of white rice.
Unseasoned Scrambled Eggs
Scramble your eggs the way you usually do but do it minus the milk and butter, as well as salt and seasoning, and voila! Your bland diet is ready to serve
Fish And Sweet Potato
If your dog is on its way to recovery, you can serve him a combination of boiled sweet potato and baked white fish.
Pumpkin And Turkey
Holistic veterinarian Karen Becker recommends giving your pooch boiled ground turkey mixed with pureed, unseasoned fresh or canned pumpkin.