Feeding A Sick Dog Guide: What to Feed a Sick Dog That Refuses to Eat

Feeding a sick dog is essential for their recovery, but it can be challenging when they refuse to eat. A lack of appetite is a common symptom in sick dogs caused by several factors, such as illness, stress, dental problems, or a change in diet. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how long a sick dog can survive without eating, the reasons they might not be eating, and provide tips on how to stimulate a sick dog’s appetite. Additionally, we’ll cover the best foods to feed a sick dog and what to avoid. If you’re a dog owner dealing with one who is refusing to eat, keep reading to learn how to provide them with the necessary diet to help them recover.

What Could Be The Reason Why My Dog Is Not Eating Food?

There could be several reasons why a dog may not be eating their food. Illness is a common cause, which is why dogs may lack their appetite if they are not feeling well. Infections, digestive issues, and other medical conditions may also affect a dog’s appetite. Stress and anxiety are also likely to impact a dog’s eating habits, especially if they find themselves in a new environment or experiencing changes in their daily routine. Having dental problems, such as tooth infection or gum disease, also cause dogs to feel pain when eating. Additionally, a sudden change in diet or food brand can cause digestive upset and make dogs hesitant to eat. It’s important to identify the underlying cause of your dog’s appetite loss, so you can address it and provide them with the necessary care and treatment.

Best Foods To Give A Sick Dog Who Isn’t Eating

In case your dog won’t eat, here are some of the best dog food that veterinarians recommend:

Chicken and Rice

When a dog is sick and refusing to eat, it’s important to offer them easily digestible, nutrient-dense foods that are gentle on their stomach. One of the best foods to feed a sick dog that will not eat is boiled chicken and rice. This simple meal is easy to prepare and can provide a range of important nutrients for a dog’s health. To make it, boil boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cook white rice separately. Once both ingredients are fully cooked, mix them together in a ratio of 1:1 (equal parts). The chicken provides high-quality protein, which is important for maintaining muscle mass and supporting the immune system. The rice provides easily digestible carbohydrates that can help settle a dog’s stomach and provide energy. This meal is also low in fat, which is important for dogs with digestive issues. Overall, chicken and rice is a great option for a sick dog that needs a simple, easy-to-digest meal.

Shredded Chicken

Shredded chicken is another great food option to offer a sick dog that is not eating. Like boiled chicken, shredded chicken is easy to digest and provides high-quality protein to help maintain muscle mass and support the immune system. Shredded chicken can be served plain, or mixed with other easily digestible foods such as rice or sweet potatoes. One of the benefits of shredded chicken is its versatility – it can be used as an addition for dry kibble or added to wet food to make it more appetizing. Additionally, chicken shreds can be a great option for dogs with dental issues or those who have trouble chewing brittle foods. Generally, shredded chicken is a tasty and nutritious food option for a sick dog that needs a little extra help getting back on their feet.


Due to its many health advantages, pumpkin is a good food to offer your sick dog. It has a low fat content, is high in fiber, and includes necessary vitamins along with minerals that can support a dog’s general health. The ability of pumpkin to assist in regulating digestion is one of its primary advantages. Pumpkin’s high fiber content may assist dogs with constipation or loose stools by helping to firm them up. Pumpkin is a fantastic choice for dogs who have digestive problems or upset stomachs. A study has shown that it can reduce inflammation in the digestive system by having anti-inflammatory properties. Cooked or canned pumpkin can be given, but it’s essential to pick a pure pumpkin product free of added sugars or spices that can be toxic to dogs. In the end, pumpkin is a wholesome and delectable food choice for a sick dog who requires assistance feeling their best again.

Bone Broth

It is a tasty food that is nutritious and can be particularly helpful to a sick dog. Bone broth is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that is created by boiling bones in water for a long period of time. Bone broth can support a dog’s immune system and encourage general recovery. In addition to promoting healthy joints, skin, and coat, glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, and gelatin are some of the main components in bone broth that also support digestion. Bone broth is a wonderful choice for dogs who are dehydrated or have recently puked because it is also high in electrolytes. Make sure that the bone broth you give your sick canine doesn’t contain any onions or garlic and other ingredients that can be harmful to dogs. Considering everything, bone broth is a nourishing and soothing food that can give a sick dog the nutrients they require to recoup and feel better.

Baby Food

Baby food, particularly those made with meat, such as chicken or beef, can be a good choice when dogs lose their appetite due to illness. These foods typically have a potent scent and flavor that can stimulate a dog’s appetite. They are also typically simple to digest. However, because harmful components like onions or garlic can be toxic to dogs, it’s crucial to choose infant food that is devoid of these. Always thoroughly read the label before giving it to your dog, and pick a brand that only includes meat, water, and possibly a small amount of rice or vegetables.

Wet Food

Wet food, also known as canned food, can be a good option for sick dogs and puppies that have trouble chewing dry kibble. Wet food’s high moisture content can aid dogs in maintaining their fluid balance because it typically consists of a combination of grains, vegetables, chicken, or meat. Many wet dog food brands are also soft and easy to digest, making them a good choice for dogs with stomach issues or poor appetites. It’s crucial to select premium wet food brands with a balance of nutrients if you want your dog to receive the nutrition he or she needs for their specific dietary requirements.

White Fish

In dogs that are not feeling well, white fish, like tilapia or cod, are excellent sources of protein. It is quickly absorbed and rich in minerals like omega-3 fatty acids, which can help the body fight inflammation. It is also low in fat, which makes it perfect for dogs who need to drop weight or those who have digestive problems. It’s crucial to completely cook white fish and remove any bones before serving it to a sick dog. The fish can be given some cooked sweet potatoes or mashed carrots to offer some extra fiber and nutrients.

Sweet Potatoes

Due to their high vitamin and mineral content, sweet potatoes are a great source of nourishment for sick dogs. They are easily digestible and help with bowel motions thanks to their high fibre content. Additionally having anti-inflammatory properties, sweet potatoes can help to reduce swelling and aid in the healing process. Additionally, they are low in fat, making them the perfect food for canines with digestive problems. To make sweet potatoes easier for sick dogs to consume, they are frequently cooked and mashed. Sweet potatoes can be given as a stand-alone meal or combined with other foods to add extra nutrition.

Mashed Carrots

Another excellent choice to feed a sick dog that won’t consume is mashed carrots. Beta-carotene, calcium, and fiber are just a few of the nutrients found in carrots. They also have a natural sweetness to them that a canine may find appealing. The carrots can be mashed to release more nutrients and to make them simpler for a sick dog to digest. Just be sure to fully cook the carrots before mashing them, as dogs may have trouble digesting raw carrots. So, adding mashed carrots to a sick dog’s food can be both nourishing and delicious.


Since eggs are also a great source of protein, they make a great meal replacement for a sick canine who is not eating. Additionally, they are simple to metabolize and contain vital amino acids that can hasten the healing process. Eggs can be given plain or combined with other foods and can be boiled, scrambled, or even poached. It’s crucial to remember that the egg needs to be fully prepared to eliminate any chance of salmonella. Additionally, given that some canines may be allergic to eggs, it’s crucial to watch your dog’s behavior after introducing eggs for the first time. Even so, adding eggs to a sick dog’s food can be a wholesome and delicious supplement.


Oatmeal can be beneficial for a sick canine because it is a healthy and easy-to-digest food. Vitamins and minerals like iron, copper, and B vitamins in addition to being a good source of fiber, which can help regulate metabolism. Oatmeal is prepared by cooking unflavored oats with water, and it can be given to your dog warm or cooled down. It can be combined with other foods like shredded chicken or pumpkin for the advantage of your dog. The use of sweetened or flavored oatmeal that includes additional sugar or artificial sweeteners must be avoided even though it may be harmful to your dog’s health.

Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt can be a beneficial food for a sick dog that is not eating. It is high in protein, calcium, and probiotics, which can help improve the dog’s digestive health and immune system. However, it is important to choose plain yogurt without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Additions of fruit or flavors to yogurt can cause gastrointestinal upset and worsen the dog’s condition. You can mix a small amount of plain yogurt into the dog’s food or offer it as a separate snack to entice them to eat.

How Can I Stimulate My Dog’s Appetite When Sick?

If your dog is not eating, there are several ways to stimulate their appetite and encourage them to eat. One method is to give food by hand in front of your dog, as this can make mealtime a more positive and interactive experience. It is also beneficial to warm your dog’s food as it will also make the food more appetizing as well as easier to digest. You can also try adding strong-smelling foods, such as bone broth or canned fish, to your dog’s regular food to make it more enticing. Alternatively, you can offer small, frequent meals throughout the day, rather than one or two large meals. If your dog is still not eating, you may need to try different types of food or work with your veterinarian to develop a feeding plan that meets their nutritional needs.

What To Do If A Dog Is Being Sick And Not Eating?

Keep an eye on your dog’s signs if they are unwell and not eating. Seek veterinary care as soon as you can if the dog is also throwing up or having diarrhea, or if they are exhibiting other alarming symptoms. If the dog hasn’t eaten in more than 24 hours, this may be particularly crucial. The dog’s appetite may be affected by underlying medical conditions, which the veterinarian can help identify and treat. In some circumstances, they might also suggest particular diets or supplements to aid the dog’s recuperation.

What Can You Not Feed A Sick Dog?

Feeding a sick dog can be a challenge, but it is crucial to provide them with the right nutrients to help them recover. 

However, the following are certain foods that you should avoid giving your sick dog:

Fatty or greasy foods: These foods can cause digestive issues in dogs and exacerbate symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Onions and Garlic: They contain compounds that can damage a dog’s red blood cells, causing anemia.

Grapes and Raisins: Your dog can suffer kidney failure from these foods.

Milk and other Dairy Products: Many dogs are lactose intolerant, which means they cannot properly digest dairy products. Consuming these foods can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, and gas.

Sugary foods and drinks: Similar to humans, dogs can suffer from excessive weight gain and other health problems from consuming too much sugar.

Chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol: These foods contain compounds that are toxic to dogs and can cause serious health problems such as seizures, tremors, and even death.


In the end, as mentioned earlier, feeding a sick dog is crucial to their recovery and overall well-being. When a dog is not eating, it can indicate health problems or distress. Here, we have discussed common reasons why a dog may not be eating, as well as tips and tricks to stimulate their appetite. Additionally, we also discussed the best foods to feed a sick dog, including chicken and rice, shredded chicken, pumpkin, bone broth, baby food, wet food, white fish, sweet potatoes, mashed carrots, eggs, oatmeal, and plain yogurt. However, it’s also important to know what not to feed a sick dog, which includes fatty or greasy foods, onions and garlic, grapes and raisins, milk and other dairy products, sugary foods and drinks, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol. In the event that your dog isn’t eating or exhibiting other concerning symptoms, you should seek veterinary care right away.

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