Bland Diet: A Calm in the GI Storm

September 28, 2020

Diarrhea and vomiting: as much havoc as they wreak on your carpeting, imagine your pup’s gut. Vomiting and diarrhea are some of the most common ailments that we see pets for at an emergency hospital, and they may be accompanied by a lack of appetite and energy. There are steps you can take at home to stop the train before it leaves the station.  

Signs of GI Upset:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • lethargy
  • lack of appetite
  • abdominal pain

The first thing I do for my own animals when they show any of these signs is start them on a bland diet. Regular dog food and even GI sensitive diets leave an oily residue on your hand. This is evidence of the fat content; even the healthiest diets are 10-15% fat. The best thing for an upset stomach is food that does not require much digestion: A simple source of protein and carbohydrates and no fats, no oils, no seasoning. 

Bland Diet for Dogs with GI Upset

A bland diet, especially a homemade, one is not balanced for longterm health (although your veterinarian can help with this if the condition dictates such). However, it can be quite helpful for GI upset in the short term. I recommend feeding the bland diet to your dog for 3-4 days, after which you should slowly transition them back to their regular diet over 3-4 meals. Rapid changes in diet can cause diarrhea and vomiting. 

By definition, a bland diet for dogs with GI upset is not terribly exciting because the goal is to irritate the GI tract as little as possible while still providing nourishment to your pet. Here are some ingredients to use when preparing your dog’s temporary bland diet.

For protein:

  • Cooked burger (cow, moose, deer, etc.). Drain the fat after cooking.
  • Boiled or baked chicken or turkey
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Fish
  • Low-fat cottage cheese

For carbohydrates:

  • Rice (brown, white, wild)
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Cooked sweet potato


  • Canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • Probiotic supplements (available at veterinary offices, pet stores, and even some grocery stores)

Avoiding asking too much from the gut (by providing easily digestible foods) while still providing necessary building blocks for healing can sometimes be enough to allow the gut to reset and heal itself. If a bland diet alone is not enough to heal your dog’s GI issues, it certainly helps.

What If the Bland Diet Doesn’t Work?

If the issues persist and the vomiting and diarrhea go on for more than 12-24 hours, or the symptoms get worse at any time, then it’s time to loop in the vet. Your vet may recommend diagnostics to rule out something more serious than simple GI upset. They will also likely prescribe medications and treatments to speed their recovery; even hospitalization may be required depending on the cause or severity of the symptoms. At least now you can pursue those options knowing you did everything you could to help them at home before seeking veterinary reinforcements.

Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Palmer is Alaska’s only comprehensive animal hospital. We are available by appointment, in addition to accepting emergencies and walk-ins. With CT, MRI, and Ultrasound available on-site, our facility provides advanced treatment options for your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.