How Long Should I Feed My Dog a Bland Diet?

white rice in a dog bowl

Do not feed your dog a bland diet for more than three days in a row. The bland diet is a short-term solution to GI issues. If the symptoms have cleared, slowly introduce regular food back into your dog’s diet. The re-introduction phase should take another 2-3 days. 

What Is a Bland Diet?

It sounds boring and not at all appetizing, but a bland diet can actually be good for your dog. A bland diet is easy for dogs to digest. It has simple ingredients that are gentle on the stomach and won’t irritate the digestive system. 

A bland diet is usually low in fiber and low in fat. Less fiber in your dog’s diet will reduce their need to go to the bathroom, which is good if they’re dealing with diarrhea. 

The lower fat content is meant to be gentle on the stomach, which is important if your dog is already having some tummy troubles and you want to keep from causing more gastrointestinal (GI) distress. 

A bland diet still provides all the calories your dog needs along with some of the nutrients, but it allows the GI system to recover from any upset it may be dealing with.

When to Feed Your Dog a Bland Diet

You can feed your dog a bland diet any time that they are not feeling well. If you can hear their poor upset stomach churning or gurgling, or if they’re exhibiting vomiting or diarrhea, consider feeding them a diet that’s gentle on their stomach until they get back to normal.

These symptoms of GI distress can be caused by a number of things. Your dog may have eaten something they shouldn’t have. Maybe they got into the garbage or hopped onto the counter and ate food meant for humans. 

Sometimes it’s our fault as owners. If you change your dog’s regular food too quickly, without gradually introducing a new commercial food, or you give them a new treat that doesn’t agree with them, it can lead to a reaction from your dog’s digestive system, making them uncomfortable and unhappy.

If your dog is experiencing severe GI distress, talk to your vet. Depending on the cause of your dog’s suffering, the vet might recommend a bland diet to help soothe their stomach until they recover and stop showing signs of GI distress. 

But if it’s a minor upset, and especially if you know what led to it (like you saw your dog devour an entire tray of hamburger patties at the backyard barbeque), you can feed them a bland diet for a couple days to help ease his pain. 

How Long Should I Feed My Dog a Bland Diet?

It’s a Short-Term Solution

The most important thing to understand about feeding your dog a bland diet is that it’s temporary. Bland meals consisting of only a couple key ingredients are not a balanced diet. 

To get all of the nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy, they need to eat a well-rounded diet with the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs.

No More Than 2-3 Days

In general, you should only feed your dog bland meals for a few days at a time until their condition has improved. 

Once your dog is no longer showing symptoms of GI distress and the symptoms have gone away, you can gradually reintroduce regular food. It may take up to five days for your dog to fully return to regular meals after experiencing digestive system issues.

Is Your Dog Vomiting? Give The Stomach a Break

If your dog’s GI distress is causing him to vomit, don’t feed him anything for up to a day. Giving him more food right away can aggravate his stomach, and he likely won’t be able to keep it down. 

Make sure he has plenty of water to prevent dehydration, but hold off on anything solid for at least 12 hours. 

Once you know he can hold down water, then you can try giving him bland food. If your dog refuses to drink water, or you notice that his gums are getting pale in color from dehydration, you can dab his gums with a wet paper towel to provide him with a little more water.

What Should I Feed My Dog During a Bland Diet?

Bland diets should be low in fat, but they usually contain simple carbohydrates and a lean protein. 

Simple Carbs

Most people will feed their dog plain white rice when they have an upset stomach since it is an easy-to-digest carb without a lot of fiber. 

Stay away from brown rice. Even though it’s packed with a lot of nutrients, it is harder for your dog to digest. 

Cooked sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces, are another excellent option for starchy foods. You can buy them canned as well. Just keep an eye on the amount of added sodium.

If you don’t have rice or sweet potatoes in your pantry and need another option for carbs, you can feed your dog cooked pasta or oatmeal. 

Pureed pumpkin or bananas are also good for dogs experiencing diarrhea since the soluble fiber is easy to digest and the potassium they contain will ease contractions of the intestines. 

Be careful when buying canned pureed pumpkin. It’s easy to mistake for pumpkin pie filling, and your dog definitely doesn’t need that added sugar.

These carbs can all be served by themselves as a bland meal, or you can mix in a bit of protein.

Lean Meats: The 2-1 Ratio

When mixing protein into a bland diet, try to stick to a two-to-one ratio. For example, for every 2 cups of white rice, mix in one cup of lean meat. Starchy carbs should still make up the majority of the bland meal.

You can choose any type of lean meat, but keep it to a single protein source, your dog’s stomach doesn’t need the variety right now. 

Skinless, boneless chicken, lean ground beef, or turkey are all excellent options. If your family lives a vegetarian lifestyle and you don’t have meat in your house, scrambled eggs and cottage cheese are also good sources of protein.

How Should I Prepare and Serve a Bland Diet? 

No Extras

Cook your dog’s bland food in a bland way. It may sound really boring, but your dog is still going to love it!

Keeping the food bland important to help him recover more quickly without causing further irritation of his GI system. Don’t add any extra salt or spices. Don’t cook with any additional butter or oils that would introduce more fat into his meal. Keep it simple and bland.

For cooking lean meats, boiling chicken is ideal because it helps reduce the fat. You can pan fry ground meats, but it creates a bit more fat. Try to pour off as much as possible before mixing it with the carbs.

Small Portions and Gradually Return to Normal

Offer your dog many small portions of this bland diet every few hours while he is recovering. This will be easier on his stomach than gorging on a couple large meals. 

Once he’s on the mend, slowly reintroduce him to regular food so you don’t overtax his sensitive GI system.

Since this bland meal is cooked, you can make enough for a couple days and store it in the refrigerator. You can als freeze it for the next time your dog digs up an old bone that upsets his stomach.

What If the Bland Diet Doesn’t Help?

A bland diet can help your dog feel better if he’s dealing with digestive problems, but it’s not a cure for an underlying issue. If your dog’s symptoms don’t get better after a couple days, or they get worse, take them to the vet.

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