Tips On What to Feed a Sick Dog That Won’t Eat

Sad Pug puppy wrapped in blanket

When your dog isn’t eating, it’s natural to be concerned. However, before you let the panic and fear for your furry companion overtake you, try solving this problem with a change in your dog’s diet.

If your pooch isn’t eating, that can be a symptom of an underlying illness or issue. When that happens, it’s essential to consult a professional. However, there are some home-made solutions you can try out first. Here are some tips on what to feed a sick dog that won't eat.

Reasons Your Dog Isn’t Eating


If you notice a lack of appetite in your dog, your first concern should be to figure out what's wrong. Various illnesses can lead to your best friend turning their head on food.

​1. Upset stomach

If your dog isn’t eating, you don’t have to imagine the worst right off the bat. Our furry friends are sneaky, and they often snack on things they shouldn’t. Therefore, the lack of appetite could be due to an upset stomach. If your dog has diarrhea or vomits, you can try to alter their diet. However, if the symptoms last more than 24 hours without any improvement, then it’s best to consult a veterinarian.

2. Dental disease

Dental diseases are common issues with dogs. Swollen or bleeding gums will lead to a lack of appetite, but they are also indicators of more significant problems like oral tumors and gingivitis. Until you resolve the issues, it’s best to change your dog’s diet. Keep reading to see what to feed a sick dog that won't eat.

3. Pain

Since our furry friends can’t talk, it’s hard for them to communicate to us that they are in pain. Issues like arthritis or hip dysplasia cause a lot of discomfort for dogs, so they might refuse to eat.

4. Cancer and kidney failure

In the worst case scenario, dogs can refuse food due to severe illnesses such as cancer or kidney disease. Of course, the lack of appetite isn’t a sure symptom that there’s a serious issue, but it’s a good indicator. Either way, you should try changing the dog’s diet.

5. Old age

Senior dogs are known to eat less than when they were in their prime. Issues commonly related to aging, as well as the overall slowing down of the entire system, can cause loss of appetite.

How to Know When Your Dog is Sick

Our dogs might not be able to tell us they are sick, but they can show us - if we pay attention. Some symptoms are minor and can go unnoticed. However, a lack of appetite that leads to excessive weight loss is a sure sign something is wrong. Furthermore, you should also keep your eyes open for symptoms such as:

  • 1
    Excessive drinking or lack of thirst
  • 2
    ​Changed behavior - agitation or lethargy
  • 3
    Loud, wheezy breathing with coughing or gagging
  • 4
    Troubles with urination or defecation
  • 5
    Vomiting and diarrhea
  • 6
    Changes in appearance - rashes, itching, persistent hair loss
  • 7
  • 8
    Noticeable pain

How to Get a Sick Dog To Eat


A loss of appetite is a huge concern. You might be tempted to force your dog to eat. However, that’s never a good option. Instead, give your pooch some time, and try switching up the diet.

Furthermore, you can try offering your dog homemade meals and ration them in small portions. While it’s essential to provide your dogs with variety in diet, sometimes they don’t react well to change. To get your pup to eat something new, try giving it to them in another room, or hand-feed them.

Other tricks you can try are:

  • offer moist foods with strong odors
  • let your dog eat grass
  • give your dog some wet food
  • introduce new foods slowly and one at a time
  • praise your dog when they eat new foods

Consult a Vet

It’s important to know what to feed a sick dog that won’t eat. However, if the issues are persistent, or more severe than a simple tummy ache, then it’s best to consult a professional. Even though our tips will prove helpful, they can’t solve serious issues on their own.

What to Feed a Sick Dog that Won't Eat


When your sick dog won’t eat their food or turns their head on the kibble, you can try feeding him some home-made meals. However, be mindful of any dietary restrictions or food allergies your pooch already has.

Here are some ideas on what to feed a sick dog that won’t eat:

  • Chicken Soup
  • Bone Broth
  • Pumpkin and Yogurt Puree
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Boiled meat and rice
  • Green beans and sweet potato
  • Raw food
  • Baby food

​Try a liquid diet​

Bowl of chicken soup

If your dog is refusing to eat their dry kibble, try switching to wet food. Moist food will be easier on an upset stomach. Furthermore, dry food can cause pain and irritate the gums and gastrointestinal tract.

​1. Chicken Soup for Comfort and Easy Digestion

Chicken soup is a perfect liquid option for upset stomachs, older dogs, and dogs with dietary restrictions.

When our dogs are sick or refusing food, it’s best to offer them bland options. Furthermore, the portions should be small. You can distribute them throughout the day.

Warm, unsalted chicken soup can be an excellent remedy for an upset stomach, but you can also add some ingredients to make it more nutritious and appealing. Try adding boiled chicken meat and rice. You can also add vegetables like carrots and broccoli, and use the soup as a replacement meal for a couple of days.

​2. Bone Broth for Healthy Joints and Upset Stomachs

Bone broth will keep your pooch hydrated. That’s very important, as vomiting and diarrhea will dehydrate a sick dog and lower their energy.

Furthermore, bone broth can help with other issues because it detoxifies the liver and it’s great for joint health. You can use bone broth as a home remedy for senior dogs with joint pain, arthritis, and other bone-related issues. It’s packed with nutritional value, and it won’t upset the stomach.

It’s best to make bone broth out of beef marrow bones or chicken or turkey bones that have a lot of joints, like the legs. However, make sure to remove all bones before feeding your dog this broth. Sharp fragments of bone can cause much more damage in the long-run.

​3. Encourage Water Intake

While it’s crucial to know what to feed a sick dog that won't eat, we must not forget the water intake. While soups and broths can help with that, you can also offer ice cubes to your furry friends to lick on and keep up their water intake.

However, don’t force the dog to drink water. That can lead to further issues like pulmonary edema and inhalation of the liquid.

​Home-made Meals For Sick Dogs

Depending on the issues your dog is having, you can offer them some home-made meals to make them feel better. Choose some simple recipes that will provide necessary nutrients without upsetting the stomach or worsening the condition.

​1. Mashed Pumpkin and Yoghurt Puree For a Firm Stool

Pumpkin is a very simple option that will soothe a mildly upset stomach. You can mash some bland, roasted pumpkin and mix it with yogurt. If you don’t have time for that, or if it isn’t pumpkin season, you can also use plain canned pumpkin that’s available year-round.

Pumpkin is a prebiotic rich in fiber. Furthermore, it has essential vitamins and minerals. It’s great for cases of mild diarrhea, as it will absorb water and make your puppy’s stool more firm.

Adding yogurt to the pumpkin puree can also be a good option. Since yogurt is rich in calcium and protein, it can help soothe the gastrointestinal issues. However, make sure to choose one that doesn’t have any sugar in it, and that has live active bacteria that will act as probiotics.

​2. Scrambled Eggs For a Protein Boost

Eggs can be a great protein boost for dogs that have symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. You can offer them a tablespoon or two every couple of hours, and slowly increase the amount throughout the day.

Like with other food for upset tummies, don’t season the eggs. Furthermore, don’t give them to your dog if they are allergic to poultry or poultry by-products.

​3. Boiled Meat and Rice For Gas Attacks and Diarrhea

Boiled meat and rice is a go-to recipe for many dog owners. It’s a known remedy for upset stomachs and fussy eaters alike.

You can boil some bland chicken and rice in a 2:1 ratio. This meal is ideal even for the most sensitive stomachs of senior dogs and dogs with serious illnesses.

Boiled skinless chicken is the best option for dogs who don’t have any allergies. Make sure the meat is fully cooked. Furthermore, you can shred the meat to make eating and swallowing easier for your dog.

You can use this as a replacement meal for two or three days. Keep the portions small and increase them over time. However, if the symptoms don’t ease up during that period, make sure to ask a veterinarian for help.

​4. Green Beans and Sweet Potato For a Vitamin Boost

Green beans are a great source of fiber, as well as vitamins K and C. These ingredients will help ease the symptoms of diarrhea.

In cases of loose stool or even constipation, sweet potatoes can help your dog. They are low in fat and a fantastic source of vitamins, potassium, and fiber. Sweet potatoes are a whole food, and they won’t cause an immune response or damage the gastrointestinal tract any further.

Like with other recipes, moderation is the key factor. Don’t over-do it. Feed your dog a couple of sweet potato cubes at a time.

​5. Baby Food For Easier Swallowing

Baby food is blended and easy to digest. Therefore, it makes the perfect choice for dogs with intestinal issues or illnesses.

Rich, fatty foods aren’t a good choice for a sick dog. It’s much better to choose bland, unsalted, meat-based baby food. It’s easy to swallow and digest, and you can comfortably sneak medication in it, if necessary.

​6. Raw Diet Can Help in Some Cases

Although not everyone recommends it, a raw diet can also be helpful for sick dogs that won’t eat. Some issues can cause dogs to respond better to fresh foods rather than cooked meals or kibble:

  • arthritis
  • joint pain
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • allergies

If your dog suffers from these illnesses, try offering them raw animal protein like poultry or beef and salmon. Protein should make up around 50% of the meal, while the other 50% can be fruits and vegetables. You can try carrots, broccoli, bananas, apples, etc.

However, keep in mind that a raw diet isn’t helpful in every case. It won’t be of much help for instances of diarrhea and vomiting, for example.


Figuring out what to feed a sick dog that won't eat is no easy task, and it’s mostly a trial-and-error scenario. If your dog is frequently ill, you’re most likely familiar with the recipes that will ease that condition.

However, if this is your first time facing this stressing issue, try making the chicken soup or the nutrient-packed bone broth and work your way up from there. Simple, bland meals that are easy to digest are your best options.

Again, don’t forget that while it’s crucial to know what to feed a sick dog that won't eat, you can’t make any decisions on your own. If the issues are persistent and you don’t know what’s causing them, consult a veterinarian and seek professional advice.

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