If your puppy has had diarrhea, has exhibited symptoms of abdominal discomfort or has lost interest in eating, your veterinarian may recommend that you feed him a soft, bland diet for several days until he begins to feel better. A soft, bland diet will not aggravate his stomach or digestive tract and can help him feel better while keeping him nourished.
Visit Your Veterinarian
There are a variety of reasons why your puppy might display symptoms of illness such as lack of interest in food, diarrhea, lethargy, whining, crying or vomiting. Before changing his diet, you must first bring your puppy to a veterinarian to rule out potentially serious illnesses such as parvovirus, commonly known as parvo, which can affect puppies and can be fatal.
Once your veterinarian has ruled out major illness, he may prescribe medications for your pet and will often advise you to feed a soft, bland diet to your dog. The diet includes easy-to-digest foods that are less likely to upset your puppy's stomach and keeps him energized while he recovers from his illness. The diet usually lasts for several days and is usually fed in small amounts throughout the day.
However, the veterinarian may recommend that you withhold food altogether for up to a day until your puppy can hold down fluids. Water should never be withheld from your puppy. If your puppy becomes dehydrated, your veterinarian may give your puppy intravenous fluids while he's in the office.
A soft, bland diet is comprised of foods that require minimal chewing and will not upset your puppy's sensitive stomach. Boiled meat such as chicken or lean ground beef provides necessary proteins but removes fats, which can upset the puppy's stomach further. Other proteins that can be used are low fat or fat free cottage cheese and plain yogurt. You can also feed him cooked white rice, plain cooked oatmeal, boiled sweet potato or plain canned pumpkin. The soft, bland food should be prepared using a ratio of 1:3 for meats and proteins and 2:3 for grains and carbohydrates. To that, add two tablespoons per serving of plain canned pumpkin or boiled sweet potato.
Feed small amounts of food at several times throughout the day or as your veterinarian has advised. Even if your dog turns away the food at first, try offering it a few hours later. If your dog vomits after eating the soft, bland food, follow your veterinarian's instructions. He may advise you to withhold food once again for a certain period of time or he may advise you to continue to feed small amounts, depending on your puppy's diagnosis.
Reintroducing Regular Food
Follow your veterinarian's instructions when you reintroduce your puppy to regular food. If your puppy has done well on the soft, bland diet, you will need to readjust him to his regular feeding routine. Since many dogs are usually fed a diet of doggie kibble, your puppy may at first snub his kibble. Your veterinarian may advise you to mix his soft, bland food into his kibble gradually over a day or two to acclamate him to eating plain kibble again, or he may advise you to switch back to kibble immediately.
Leeann Teagno has been writing professionally since 2006. An English major, she continues to study information systems management at American Public University. Teagno is an organic gardener, cook and technology buff with past employment in mobile communications. She also volunteers at an animal shelter and operates a home bakery.