4 Recipes to Make a Sick Dog Feel Better

Tired terrier laying on a sofa

Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty Images

When your dog shows signs of a distressed digestive tract, from vomiting to diarrhea, it's easy to conclude that something is seriously wrong. But more often than not, it's just an old-fashioned upset stomach. After you've checked in with the vet to rule out any major problems, it's time to whip up some simple recipes that give your dog's stomach a rest while still providing needed nutrition.

These recipes are intended for a dog with nausea, gas or diarrhea. Dogs undergoing chemotherapy, who suffer from allergies, have diabetes, problems with kidneys or other organs, or are seniors with delicate stomachs will need special attention to their diets to ensure they're getting all the nutrition they need. Creating the best diet for your dog can be complicated, so always consult your veterinarian when you tinker with the foods on your dog's menu.

When your dog is simply feeling under the weather, the following four recipes over the course of a few days can settle the dog's stomach, keep him hydrated, and help him recover more quickly from his bout with illness.

Classic Chicken and Rice Dinner

The go-to recipe for a dog dealing with an upset stomach is good old chicken and rice. A bland diet is needed, and this recipe provides it.

Simply place 1 or 2 chicken breasts in a baking dish with a quarter cup of water, cover and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until cooked through and easily shredded. While the chicken is baking, place 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let steam for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Do not add any salt or seasoning to either item. Bland is the key.

Shred the chicken and mix it into the rice along with any juice left in the baking pan. Serve your dog very small portions — about 1/4 of their usual serving at meal time — in several increments during the day. As their stomach troubles ease, you can increase the portions a little at a time until they're eating their normal serving.

This recipe is a good option for 2-3 days, but if your dog's stomach troubles persist for longer than a few days, it's definitely time for another vet visit.

Pumpkin and Yogurt Puree

For dogs that have only mild stomach trouble such as soft stool or gas, or for dogs that can't eat any grains, a great option is a simple mix of pumpkin and yogurt.

In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup pumpkin puree — make sure this is pure pumpkin and not canned pumpkin pie filling — and 2-3 tablespoons of plain live cultured yogurt. This makes one meal.

Replace your dog's meals on the first day with the mix. Over the next 2-3 days, slowly introduce more of your dog's regular food along with the mix until your dog is back on track with regular meals and a happy tummy. Again, if your dog's stomach issues persist, take him in for a vet visit as it could be something more serious.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup works wonders for us humans when we're feeling under the weather, and it can work for dogs too. This is a version of the classic recipe, but with a few extra goodies to add in more nutrients and liquid to keep your dog more hydrated. Again, the key is to keep the food bland, so avoid adding any salt or seasonings.

In a soup pot, bring six cups of water to a boil. Add in 2 boneless chicken breasts and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Allow the chicken to cook for about 45 minutes, or until cooked through and easily shredded. Remove the chicken breasts from the water and set aside. Add in 1 cup of chopped sweet potato and 1 cup of rice, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Shred the chicken and place back in the soup. Turn off the heat and let the whole batch cool to room temperature. In batches, or using an immersion blender, blend until the soup is a chunky puree. You can add more water as needed to make sure it maintains a thick but soup-like consistency.

This mixture can be given to your dog as a meal replacement for a day or two. Then slowly add in your dog's regular food for another couple days until your dog is back on track. As with the other recipes, if your dog's stomach troubles persist, be sure to visit the vet.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is a wonderful thing to feed your dog on a regular basis as it's great for healthy joints and helps to detoxify the liver. But it's also great to give to your dog when he's feeling ill to keep him hydrated and pack in the nutrients without further upsetting the stomach.

Fill a crock pot with beef marrow bones and bones that have a lot of joints, such as chicken or turkey legs. Cover the bones with water until they are submerged by 2-3 inches. Add in 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Cover and let cook on low for 20-24 hours. Then remove all the bones, taking care to make sure you get every last one, and discard them. Definitely don't give them to your dog as cooked bones can splinter and cause internal damage.

Place the pot in the fridge and let it cool for 2-3 hours. With a large spoon, remove the layer of fat that hardens at the top. The remaining jelly-like broth can be spooned into smaller containers for storage. These can be stored in the fridge for 3 days. Serve it to your dog in small portions by itself for the first day. As the symptoms of stomach trouble subside, add in more regular food over the next 2-3 days until your dog is back on track with regular meals.

You can keep adding a bit of bone broth to your dog's regular meals as it is a great healthy addition anyway!

There are quite a few great cookbooks and websites out there that provide recipes for more specific dog health issues, including Home Cooking for Sick Dogs. Be sure to talk with your vet about your dog's specific nutritional needs to come up with the best recipes that can help any illness from allergies to recovering from surgery to cancer recovery or hospice.