If you are a dog parent, chances are your dog has developed diarrhea at least once, and the vet recommended a bland diet. But what exactly is a bland diet? And what if the treatment works too well and from having diarrhea, the dog becomes constipated?
When your dog has diarrhea, you will do anything to stop the bouts, but sometimes that can result in an opposite problem – constipation. Sadly, a bland diet the diarrhea first aid can result in constipation. Luckily, this is not a particularly common occurrence.
In this article, we will talk about bland diets for dogs and the possibility of the bland diet making dogs constipated. We will discuss what to do in case your dog becomes constipated and when it is time to call the vet.
WHAT IS A BLAND DIET?
Bland diet, despite the non-descriptive and boring name, is a vet-recommended approach for managing gastrointestinal upsets manifesting with diarrhea. The more appropriate title would be “gastrointestinal-friendly” because of its soothing effect.
Dog Bland Diet Not Pooping – What Do I Do?
The bland diet is a true limited ingredient food that consists of a single carbohydrate and single protein source. A bland diet is often easier for dogs to digest! Traditionally, the carbohydrate source is white rice, and the protein source is lean chicken meat. For dogs with chicken sensitivities, this ingredient can be replaced with turkey or grounded beef.
The ratio of white rice to lean meat is 3 to 1 or, in more practical terms, 75% of rice and 25% meat. Both ingredients are boiled and plain (no salt, oil, or spices). The serving of the bland diet matters too.
Eating and Dietary Changes
Namely, after measuring your dog’s daily amount of bland diet, you need to divide it into 4 to 6 smaller meals. Here is a short dosage guideline for calculating your dog’s bland diet intake:
- Dogs less than 5 pounds – ½ cup
- Dogs 5 – 15 pounds – ½ to ¾ cup
- Dogs 16 – 30 pounds – 1 to 1 ½ cups
- Dogs 31 – 50 pounds – 1 ½ to 2 cups
- Dogs 51 – 75 pounds – 2 to 3 cups
- Dogs 76 – 99 pounds – 3 to 4 cups
- Dogs over 100 pounds – 4 to 5 cups.
In most cases, you should expect an improvement in the dog’s stomach upset around day five after switching to a bland diet. In such cases, on day six, you can start slowly reintroducing the regular food. The overall bland diet treatment should not last for longer than ten days.
Keep in mind that a dog not pooping on a bland diet must not be fed anything else – no treats, no kibble, and definitely no table scraps.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A BLAND DIET?
The purpose of the bland diet is to rest the gastrointestinal system while ensuring proper nutrient intake. Namely, when the digestive system is under a lot of stress, it needs to rest to recover.
On the other hand, the dog needs to eat and consume nutrients that are essential for overall health and for faster recovery from illnesses (including for the recovery of the digestive tract). The bland diet is a perfect balance – it provides the necessary nutrients while being easy on the stomach and intestines.
Diarrhea and other GI Issues
However, the bland diet is a temporary fix – it is not intended for long-term use and should not be used as a substitute for regular dog food after the GI tract heals and recovers.
In case you are wondering why the answer is simple – it is not nutritionally complete and balanced. For example, to keep the intestines working and ensure regular bowel movements, dogs need dietary fiber – a scarce nutrient in bland diets. Therefore, dogs fed a bland diet for longer than they should are at risk of becoming constipated.
DOES A BLAND DIET CAUSE CONSTIPATION?
Yes, in theory feeding your dog a bland diet can result in constipation. As mentioned above, the reason is simple – the chicken and rice slowed things and the combo lacks dietary fiber. However, in practice, this does not occur very often. Namely, when veterinarian recommends a bland diet, they give specific instructions on how to use the bland diet and for how long.
Basically, as soon as your dog’s stomach upset starts settling and the diarrhea is less watery, you need to switch your dog back to regular food. To prevent upsetting the already sensitive digestive tract, the return to regular food should be slow and gradual.
Something similar is just switching your dog from one to another food brand – first, you give three-quarters of the old food (bland diet) and one-quarter of the new food (the dog’s regular food), then mix the food in a 1:1 ratio. Once the dog adapts, you can give only one-quarter of the bland diet and three-quarters of kibble.
The fact that a bland diet has the potential to cause constipation is not a reason to be avoided. A bland diet is helpful in certain situations – it just needs to be correctly used. In the bland diet’s defense, it was never intended for long-term use. Instead, it is a temporary solution and must be used as such.
HOW LONG CAN A DOG GO WITHOUT POOPING ON A BLAND DIET?
When a dog is constipated and you are trying some home remedies to get things going, holistic veterinarians recommend giving the natural therapy around 2 to 3 days before seeking traditional veterinary help.
Therefore, it is safe to assume that this is the timeframe you should give your dog. Namely, after switching your dog to a bland diet, it will still take your dog a couple of days for the stomach rumble to settle. However, if diarrhea stopped more than 2-3 days ago and in the meanwhile, your dog has not pooped at all, it is highly advisable to call your veterinarians and explain the problem.
However, keep in mind that the bland diet and constipation issue is concerning only if the dog eats but does not poop. On the other hand, if your dog is vomiting the bland diet, the not-pooping part is expected (there is nothing to be pooped). In such a case, you should also seek help but do not list constipation as one of the reasons for calling the vet.
SUMMING UP: BLAND DIET AND POOPING ISSUES IN DOGS
Lean boiled meat and plain boiled white rice, a.k.a bland diet, is perfect for managing diarrhea in dogs with sensitive tummies. However, the lack of fiber in the bland diet can make the dog constipated or produce little poop balls.
Basically, a bland diet is something like a medicated approach and serves as a short-term solution. Using the bland diet as a substitute for regular dog food increases the chances of causing constipation.
All in all, if your dog has an upset tummy, switch it to a bland diet but do not overfeed it. In case the bland diet results in constipation, wait for 2 to 3 days and if there is no poop, call the vet.