• A bland diet can help dogs with gastrointestinal problems including vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Most contain a simple protein, carbohydrate, and optional vegetables.
  • Before feeding a bland diet, talk to your veterinarian to rule out other medical problems.
  • Portion sizes depend on the size of your dog.
  • If symptoms do not improve after starting a bland diet, see your veterinarian.

Because vomiting and diarrhea are two of the most common reasons for veterinary visits, every pet parent should have a bland diet for dogs recipe handy. Not only do we want to minimize the amount of vomit and/or diarrhea in our home, we also want our pups to feel better. 

As soon as your dog shows signs of intestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, not eating), remove food and let their stomach rest for a few hours. Allow free access to a partially-filled bowl of water during this time—drinking too much water can result in additional vomiting. 

While your pet’s stomach is resting, you can start cooking the bland diet you will be feeding your dog for the next few days. A good recipe is easy to make, and should help address the clinical signs you are seeing. 

In this article we will discuss the definition and elements of a bland diet and why certain ingredients are used when cooking one at home. We will also discuss bland diet considerations to help you make the best choices for your dog.  

What is a Bland Diet for Dogs?

A bland diet refers to a food given to a dog that sits easily in the stomach, will not cause diarrhea, and is easily digestible (easily broken down and absorbed into the body). This diet is also called “bland” because it does not have any seasonings or spices added. Many spices are too hot and spicy for an already upset intestinal tract.

When to Use a Bland Diet for Dogs

Sick dog on the couch

Dogs with mild cases of intestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, or inappetence (not wanting to eat) have an excellent chance of improvement when using a bland diet. 

A bland diet will provide your dog with a source of easy-to-digest nutrition. Bland diet ingredients soothe your dog’s intestinal tract by providing foods that do not add to existing nausea while absorbing extra moisture. 

Bland diets should not replace veterinary care and should only be used if recommended by a veterinarian. If your dog has bloody diarrhea, ongoing diarrhea and vomiting, and is not eating for an extended period of time, it’s important to make a veterinary appointment to rule out potentially serious health problems. 

Ingredients in a Bland Diet for Dogs?

Rice as part of a bland diet

A bland diet is a combination of a few simple ingredients. The diet must contain a protein source and carbohydrate source at the minimum. The addition of a vegetable (up to one-third of the recipe) can also be used.

Bland diets for dogs typically consist of:

A low-fat protein. Examples include chicken, turkey or lean beef. A protein source higher in fat is generally too heavy for pets with intestinal upset. High-fat proteins can also make vomiting and diarrhea worse. Excess fats that make their way to the intestines can draw additional water into the intestines, making more diarrhea.

A carbohydrate source. Classically, white rice is used. Not only does white rice provide an easy-to-digest source of energy for the body, but it also absorbs excess water in the intestinal tract. While white rice has superior water-absorbing capabilities when compared to other carbohydrate sources, millet, barley, winter squash, brown rice, rice bran, or whole wheat macaroni can also be used.

An optional vegetable. Some dogs with vomiting and/or diarrhea respond well to the addition of vegetables due to their fiber content. Examples of vegetables that can help with upset stomach include cucumber, celery, lettuce, culinary mushrooms, and pumpkin (canned or fresh, baked). 

A probiotic. Intestinal bacteria are incredibly important to our dog’s health. Supplementing dogs with a probiotic and/or a prebiotic can help rebalance the intestinal tract and prevent the worsening of symptoms. Do not give your dog a probiotic or prebiotic before discussing it with your veterinarian. 

Things to Consider When Feeding a Bland Diet

Young puppy at the vet

A bland diet is generally an excellent first step for pets with intestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea). However, sometimes a bland diet is not the correct choice.

There are many causes of intestinal upset, and some of them can be life threatening. If, for example, you witness your pet eat a sock, toy, rock, or other object, and they begin vomiting, the condition can quickly turn fatal. 

There are also organ diseases that can cause vomiting and other secondary medical complications. Pets suffering from significant medical conditions will likely eat little if any food, and will likely demonstrate low energy and enthusiasm. A pet who is not eating and exhibiting low energy should be seen by a veterinarian right away.  

A pet who continues to throw up their food after eight hours should be seen by their veterinarian. 

Diarrhea that does not improve with a bland diet after 24 hours likely needs additional medications to help stop the diarrhea. 

Young dogs with intestinal upset need special attention. If your dog is under 1 year of age, seek veterinary intervention for intestinal upset. Young dogs dehydrate very quickly and their health can decline much more rapidly than adult dogs. 

If your young dog is vomiting for more than four hours, has diarrhea for more than six hours, is eating less than normal or not eating and/or has low energy, they need to be seen by a veterinarian right away.

A bland diet is not complete and balanced. A complete and balanced diet has all of the vitamins and minerals a dog needs on a daily basis. The majority of commercially available dog foods are considered complete and balanced. 

Feeding a bland diet is safe on a short term-basis, but if given too long, it can start to cause metabolic abnormalities in a dog, resulting in illness, weight loss, and an inability to process food or protect the body from pathogens. 

If your pet needs to be on a bland diet for an extended period of time, the diet needs a pet-safe multivitamin added or needs to be analyzed closely by a veterinary nutritionist. There are also several dog food brands that produce and sell bland diets for dogs if you do not like to or want to cook.

Bland Diet for Dogs Recipe

Dog eating homemade bland diet

When cooking a bland diet for your dog at home, the meat should be boiled or cooked without any added butter, oils, or spices. Vegetables should be blanched, not fed raw.

You can use the options below to customize a bland diet for your dogs at home, using the recipes based on your dog’s body weight. 

Protein choices = Chicken, turkey, or lean beef

Carbohydrate choices = White rice, brown rice, or whole wheat macaroni

Vegetable choices = Cucumber, celery, lettuce, culinary mushrooms, or pumpkin

Ingredient 20-lb dog 40-lb dog 60-lb dog 80-lb dog
Protein 1/3 cup 1/2 cup 3/4 cup 1 cup
Carbohydrate 1/3 cup 1/2 cup 3/4 cup 2.5 cups
Vegetable (optional) 1/3 cup 1/2 cup 3/4 cup 2.5 cups
Pumpkin 1 tbsp 1.5 tbsp 2 tbsp 2.5 tbsp
Olive Oil 1/4 tsp 1/4 tsp 1/4 tsp 1/4 tsp
Probiotic (optional) 1 capsule/day 1 capsule/day 1.5 capsules/day 1.5 capsules/day

NOTE: These serving sizes should be split in half and given to dogs twice per day. Pay special attention to the probiotic dosage recommendations. Dogs under 40 pounds should not be given more than one probiotic each day. 

DISCLAIMER: Please discuss this recipe with your pet’s veterinarian before feeding it to your pet. Please do not feed your dog any ingredients that you know they are allergic to.

Cooking Directions

  1. Bake or boil your protein (chicken, turkey, or lean beef) until cooked through. A multicooker can also be used.
  2. Cook the carbohydrate of choice as directed on packaging. 
  3. Blanch or instapot any of the vegetable ingredients so they are easy for your dog to digest.
  4. Combine protein source, carbohydrate source, blanched vegetables in an approximate 1:1:1 ratio. If you do not want to include the vegetables, protein and carbohydrate should be portioned 1:1. 
  5. Add canned pumpkin. 
  6. Add ¼ tsp of olive oil
  7. Add a multi-strain probiotic to the food (optional).
  8. Stir ingredients together until well mixed.

Serving and Storage Instructions

Wait until the food is room temperature before serving.

Start by giving your dog a portion that is ¼ to ½ of their normal meal size to start. If they eat it and keep it down, then you can give a little more.

Store food in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days. 

Warm food to between room temperature and mildly-warm before feeding. Do not feed cold. If after warming, the food feels hot, allow it to cool before feeding your dog. 

Duration of a Bland Diet for Dogs

Continue feeding the bland diet for the next two to three days. If your pet is known to have a sensitive stomach, it may be wise to give this food for five to seven days after symptoms clear and then slowly transition them back to their normal food. 

Within 24 hours of the first meal, you should see improvement. If you do not, then a veterinary exam is recommended. If your pet stops having intestinal upset with a bland diet, but the vomiting and/or diarrhea reappear as you transition back to their normal diet, discuss your options with your veterinarian. 

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