What to Feed a Sick Dog That Won’t Eat: Expert Guide to Stimulating Appetite


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Oftentimes owners find themselves with a sick dog that simply refuses to eat. Usually, that is the first signal that something is wrong with them. This is especially seen in dogs that are not picky eaters and are fast to finish their meals and even ask for more.

In this article, we will talk about what you could try to make your sick K-9 eat because food always helps them recover.

Know what is wrong with your dog

Why is this important? Because not all food will suit your dog the same. Some dogs may be suffering from specific conditions that may require some special medical diets or they simply are allergic to some ingredients. This is why you should always talk to your vet about what you might want to try and start your dog on. 

In some cases, it may be important how often you will need to feed your dog. In general, if you have had a dog that is sick and hasn’t eaten in a couple of days, you never want to give them a large amount of food, because that can have the opposite effect on them. 

Tips and tricks for getting your dog to eat

Everyone does it differently, and as a vet, I always tell my clients that they should try whatever they think will work on their dog. I am only interested in the dog starting to eat, as that tells me that they are well on their way to recovery. 

But, here are a few ideas that you can try on your dog:

  • Warm, aromatic food: Warm your dog’s food slightly to enhance its aroma. The smell of warm food can be more enticing to a dog’s senses.
  • Hand-feeding: If your dog is reluctant to eat from a bowl, try hand-feeding them small amounts of food. This can create a positive interaction and may encourage them to eat. I am usually against this because this can spoil your dog, but desperate times call for desperate measures! 
  • Wet food or gravy: Offer wet or canned dog food, or add some water or low-sodium chicken broth to dry kibble to create a gravy-like consistency.
  • Highly palatable foods: Offer foods that are highly palatable, such as plain cooked chicken or turkey (without seasoning), plain cooked white rice, or plain scrambled eggs.
  • Toppers: Add small amounts of flavorful toppers, such as cottage cheese or a bit of plain yogurt, to your dog’s food.
  • Syringe or dropper feeding: If your dog is not eating at all, you may need to consider syringe or dropper feeding under the guidance of your veterinarian. This ensures they’re receiving the necessary nutrients.
  • Hydration: Ensure your dog is staying hydrated. Offer fresh, clean water and, if necessary, ask your veterinarian about administering electrolyte solutions.

Simple recipes that you can make at home

Here are a couple of recipes that you can try and see if they will work on your dog. However, before trying them for your dog, consult with your vet whether the ingredients will suit your dog and its condition. 

Chicken and Rice Recipe:

Ingredients: Boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs and cooked white rice

Instructions: Boil the chicken until it’s fully cooked and tender. Make sure it’s plain without any seasoning. Shred or dice the boiled chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Cook white rice according to the package instructions. Mix the cooked chicken with the cooked rice in a ratio that your dog prefers. Serve the mixture warm to your dog.

Plain Scrambled Eggs and Rice Recipe:

Ingredients: Scrambled eggs (cooked without seasoning) and cooked white rice

Instructions: Cook scrambled eggs without any seasoning until they are fully cooked. Cook white rice according to the package instructions. Mix the scrambled eggs with the cooked rice. Serve the mixture warm to your dog.

Chicken and Pumpkin Mash:

Ingredients: Boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs and cooked and mashed pumpkin (plain, canned pumpkin without additives)

Instructions: Boil the chicken until fully cooked and tender. Shred or dice the boiled chicken into small pieces. Cook or use canned pumpkin and mash it until smooth. Mix the shredded chicken with the mashed pumpkin. Serve the mixture warm to your dog.


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