With your dog as part of your family, it is understandable that you would worry when they are sick the same way you would worry about other household members who are ill.

Knowing what to feed a sick dog is just one of the many things you need to think about when nursing them back to health. You also need to take care of yourself, as your dog's illness can take a toll on you. Studies show that caregiving for an unwell dog can cause anxiety, depression, and caregiving distress to their owners.

One Important Thing to Remember

Always contact your vet first when you suspect that your dog is not feeling well. It is best to go about caregiving the vet-approved way to avoid aggravating your dog's condition or causing more complications.

Different conditions also require different nursing procedures. How you care for a dog or puppy with diarrhoea is different from how you look after dogs with fever. It is best to get professional advice on how to nurse your dog the right way.

How to Help a Sick Dog

Ensure their comfort

Set up a resting area where your sick dog can lie down and rest without being disturbed. A padded bed or a sheepskin rug will ensure they can sleep in comfort. Make sure to have a blanket ready that you can use to cover them if they start shaking or shivering.

If your dog is liable to dribble urine, a FlexDog Mat is a better option. The mat has a super absorbent viscose blend that soaks up moisture and an outer layer that keeps bad odours off your dog's bed.

Combine this with a premium dog drying coat that can double as an indoor coat, and your sick dog is sure to stay warm and comfortable.

Encourage your pet to lie down

Pets that are ill are either eager to rest or feel restless. Whichever is the case, encourage your pet to lie down and get some rest. Use toys and praises to lure them to the comfortable resting area you've provided.

If your dog is crate trained, put them in a crate. Make sure it offers them comfort as well.

Keep them hydrated as recommended

It is important for dogs to stay hydrated while recovering from an illness. Too much water, however, can have a negative effect on them.

Ask your veterinarian if your dog is allowed to drink, how much, and how frequently.

If drinking water is allowed, set a water bowl within reach. To prevent dehydration and to encourage and remind your dog to drink, place several water bowls around the house.

Feed your dog as recommended

Consult your veterinarian regarding what to feed your sick dog. Depending on their illness, a special diet may be recommended.

If your dog has vomited or has diarrhoea, remember the following feeding guidelines:

  • Wait for 12 to 24 hours before feeding your dog anything after they have vomited. This will give their stomach a chance to rest.
  • Start small and frequent when they're ready to eat. Six smaller portions fed every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day is recommended.
  • Stick to a bland diet of white meat with white rice. Feed your pet 0.24 litres of food per 10 pounds of weight each day.
  • Continue the bland diet for 1 to 2 days, starting the day after your dog got sick.
  • Warm the food slightly and hand-feed your pet if they are not eating well.
  • Don't feed them leftovers as this can trigger pancreatitis and other serious problems.
  • Take your sick dog to the vet if they refuse to eat.

Keep them clean

A soiled dog is an uncomfortable dog. Urine can also cause urine scald. So make sure you keep your dog clean by washing their fur using a cloth soaked in clean water.

If your sick dog is constantly dribbling urine, wash the area regularly and apply a layer of petroleum jelly.

Offer reassurance

Dogs feel vulnerable when they are sick. It is your responsibility to reassure them by acting calmly and quietly around them and speaking in a soothing voice.

Keep them relaxed by stroking them gently. Then, when their condition has improved, brush or groom them to improve their mood.

On top of these, take note of abnormal behavior, such as loss of appetite, unusual sensitivity to touch, lethargy, and aggression without cause. They may be acting out because of their discomfort.

Make sure to list any symptoms that your dog manifests so you can relay them to the vet.

Diarrhoea or Other Stomach Issues: What to Feed a Sick Dog

Cooling proteins

Turkey, rabbit, white fish, low-fat cottage cheese, and eggs are some of the lean cooling proteins recommended for a dog with an upset stomach.

White potato

Bland and easy to digest, white potato is perfect to provide sick dogs with energy and help settle an upset stomach. Serve it mashed with the hard-to-digest skin removed.


Millet is easier to digest, high in protein, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. This is why veterinarians recommend this as food for dogs with acute gastrointestinal distress.


Dogs with diarrhoea need pectin to soothe the intestines and alleviate loose stool. Apples are an excellent source of this. But applesauce is easier to digest. Choose one that is plain and unsweetened.


Bananas are not only rich in pectin but also in potassium. This is why dogs with diarrhoea or have bouts of vomiting should eat bananas to replenish the depleted electrolytes.


This is recommended for dogs with upset stomach and indigestion. It can alleviate spasms and enable gas to pass by calming the muscles of their intestinal tract. The antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties of peppermint are also beneficial for dogs.

Never give peppermint to dogs with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Never give dogs human peppermint products.

When to Call a Veterinarian

Caring for a sick dog can be done at home provided that they don't experience severe symptoms or those that last longer than one day.

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Siccaro icon Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Siccaro icon Swellings around its face, eyes or throat
  • Siccaro icon Difficulty breathing
  • Siccaro icon Weakness or lethargy
  • Siccaro icon Inability to urinate
  • Siccaro icon Straining or difficulty during defecation
  • Siccaro icon Excessive bleeding
  • Siccaro icon Exposure to a toxic substance
  • Siccaro icon Broken bones
  • Siccaro icon Seizures
  • Siccaro icon Unconsciousness

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, immediately go to the nearest animal hospital.

Caring for Yourself While Caring for a Sick Dog

No one will nurse your dog better than you do. So make sure to take care of yourself when caregiving for your dog, so you don't leave them in the lurch.

2 Things…

Stay calm and relaxed so you can care for your dog when you're at your best. You will be no help if you’re a nervous wreck.

Take a break before you burn yourself out. Hire a pet sitter so you can get out and re-set before you need to play nurse again to your sick dog.

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