A bland diet of chicken and rice is commonly recommended for dogs with digestive complications, particularly diarrhoea. But is this diet the solution to fixing the problem long term? And what are the potential impacts of continually feeding this diet?
What is the chicken and rice diet?
The chicken and rice diet is a combination of boiled chicken and boiled white rice, generally consisting of a 2:1 rice to chicken ratio.
Why is a chicken and rice diet recommended?
This diet is generally recommended by vets when dogs present with diarrhoea or some other digestive disturbance like vomiting or an upset tummy. A bland prescription diet may also be recommended.
The main reason for recommending a chicken and rice diet is because it is considered to be a soothing, easy digestible diet that will help to settle a dog's digestive system and help firm up his poop.
Will it help?
A chicken and rice diet may help your dog resolve his diarrhoea, vomiting or upset tummy, however, it may not. What will usually happen is that your dog will recover from his digestive upset, but then he will have another upset, and another upset, and another upset.
Ongoing digestive upset can wreak havoc in the gut mainly due to chronic, recurring inflammation that can be experienced with digestive upset. (The ongoing vet bills can wreak havoc on your purse too!).
The long term impact of poor digestive health is that it will affect overall health, potentially resulting in other health conditions developing, and even shortening the life span of your dog. And with the majority of the body's immune cells residing in the gut, digestive health is of paramount importance.
A chicken and rice diet is not going to improve your dog's digestive system. Its purpose is to resolve the upset. Without identifying the cause of the digestive upset, you're simply providing a bandaid solution that won't fix the underlying problem.
It is certainly not the solution for long-term digestive health.
Is a chicken and rice diet healthy for your dog?
In short, no. A chicken and rice diet is entirely unbalanced from a nutritional point of view. It is too high in carbohydrates and it is nutritionally deficient.
A diet that has a high proportion of carbohydrates (like many of the commercial pet foods available today) can result in a number of health conditions including skin conditions, obesity, diabetes etc.
A diet that is lacking in nutrients will likely cause health complications down the track because the diet won't be providing all the nutrients that a dog needs to thrive. For example, a chicken and rice diet is lacking in nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, riboflavin, Vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, zinc, and choline.
What alternatives are there?
There are safer, healthier and more effective ways to fix your dog's digestive issues. The starting point must always be to look at the diet and assess where you can make improvements.
The healthiest diet to feed your dog, which will in turn support his digestive system and overall wellness, is a diet that consists of human-grade whole food ingredients such as meats, bones, legumes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Once you've sorted out your dog's diet, you can then look at adding in supportive nutrients and supplements to help heal his gut so that he no longer experiences digestive upset.
If you want to learn more effective ways to help improve your dog's digestion, come along to my digestive care workshop for dog-loving humans "Beyond Chicken & Rice" on 5 October in Brisbane. Find out more and grab your ticket here.