How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

Food is essential for the survival of all living beings.

Without it, everyone would become ill, and they would all pass away.

Your dog is not an exception; to maintain its health and strength, he must consume an adequate and well-balanced diet.

But what do you do if your dog refuses to take his food at the times when he should take food?

The first and most important to say is: don’t worry too much!

Dogs can go for extended periods without eating.

In the meantime, you have a lot of reading to educate yourself on the possible reasons why they are not eating and what you can do to assist your ideal pet in quickly regaining their appetite.

How Long Can A Healthy Dog Go Without Eating?

There isn’t a clear answer to the question.

Some veterinarians answer to the question “how long can a dog go without eating” is: five days for most healthy dogs, while others say up to 10 days.

Remember that only healthy dogs are eligible for this and drink the recommended amount of water daily.

When dogs raise their resting metabolic rate (RMR), just like humans, their calorie requirements increase.

The length of time a dog may go without eating is determined by several factors, including any pre-existing medical concerns, the amount of water they are drinking, the weather, and the amount of exercise they get.

How Long Can A Sick Dog Go Without Eating?

Have you ever been so sick that the smell of food made you want to throw up?

When a dog is ill, he will frequently cease eating to aid in its speedy recovery; the less energy spent on digesting food, the more power can battle the sickness.

Even if this is helpful for your sick dogs, it is still something that you should keep an eye on.

If you go more than two days without eating, the situation may get even direr.

In 2015, the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition conducted research in which they looked at the diets of 490 dogs who had been hospitalized for just one day.

They discovered that dogs who consumed an adequate amount of eating food to satisfy their requirements for resting energy had a greater chance of being released alive.

Those who didn’t were not as fortunate as those who did.

Is It Normal For A Dog To Go Without Eating For A Specific Time?

Yes, it is!

When dogs still drink water and are generally healthy, they can handle being without eating for a while.

However, contact the vet after 48 hours or if your dog shows other symptoms.

No defined number of days is “safe” for dogs on hunger strike, but most healthy dogs may survive at least three days without food if they drink water.

When your dog refuses to eat, their appetite loss is more significant.

Changes in appetites can be substantial, so if in doubt, visit your vet.

Reasons Why A Dog Won’t Eat / Wants To Be Without It

There can be as many reasons as you think, but the primary reasons behind eating issues are as follows:

He Has Medical Conditions

Reduced dog’s appetite or refusing food could indicate medical conditions like kidney problems, liver problems, diabetes, inflammation (viral or bacterial), fever, cancer, the proportion of respondents (womb infection), pain all over the body, gastroenteritis, etc.

Your Dog Has A Dental Problem (Medical Conditions)

Dog Tooth Brushing

Your dog may not eat if he has tooth decay, gingivitis, a fractured tooth, an abscess, or an oral tumor.

Your vet will check your dog’s mouth at their clinical exam for concerns.

There’s A Change In Food

Your dog’s change in eating habits may also be due to the ingredients in the dog food they usually eat having been changed.

The vet suggests that you don’t always feed your dog the same type of food to avoid this problem.

The (Wrong) Time Of Day

time watch

Some dogs eat at set times.

Your dog may only eat at noon or after dark.

Irrespective of your dog’s preferences, feeding them at the same time daily is standard.

If they eat once a day, don’t worry.

Your Dog Is Picky

dog food bowl not eating

If your dog refuses particular foods, nothing is significantly wrong.

Your dog could be a picky eater.

This condition is more common in dogs fed a range of foods, table scraps, or inconsistently.

Different Medications

Is your dog currently taking medication?

That drug and/or routine change could be causing stomach upset.

Trigger: Social Issue

A new environment, person, or pet can distress your dog.

Environmental changes may cause dogs to stop eating.

Then they may lose appetite.

Separation anxiety and dread are others.

You Feed Bad Or Contaminated Food

Your dog eating treats but not food may indicate that the food you’re feeding is terrible.

If the food isn’t good, dogs stop eating.

If your dog suddenly stops eating a particular brand they’ve been used to eating for years, it may be spoilt.

Old food could contain substances that are either toxic or unpleasant to taste.

It’s stale, moldy, or infected with harmful microorganisms.

The Mental Health / Emotional Trigger

sad dog

Dogs might stop eating when a move or other significant environmental change is stressed.

Your dog may become anxious when introduced to a new environment or a new human or canine family member.

Until they calm down, they might not feel like eating.

Fear of being left alone is another potential reason.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Eat

Most Important: No Panic

Being a dog owner, you should remember that dogs can go without food for short periods without any long-term problems.

That answers the question “how long can a dog go without eating”?

A one- or two-day fast isn’t a big deal as long as your dog usually behaves and doesn’t show signs of illness.

Second Step: Try To Find Out The Reason For Your Dog Not Eating

Look at the label on every medication your dog has taken, look at the food your dog is eating, and think about your recent daily activities.

Your dog may be able to regain appetite if you really can figure out the reason he stopped eating in the first instance.

This May Help: Get Your Dog’s Favorite Food

Dog liking mouth

Investigating whether your pet’s refusal to eat is due to pickiness or other issues is often worthwhile.

First, try providing your pet with healthier versions of her favorite foods, such as canned food or semi-moist dog food, a carrots stick (for dogs), boiling chicken or hamburgers, salmon, etc.

Wet food with a meat flavor is bland but tasty and works well to stimulate a pet’s appetite.

The best way to get your dog to eat depends on the situation, but it could be switching his food or giving him some treats he likes.

So see if he’ll eat a meat slice or two, a piece of cheese, or some cooked chicken.

If he quickly consumes them, it indicates that food-related issues may be at the root of the problem and that dog’s appetite is here.

Try Him To Go Without Eating For 48 Hours

To figure out if something is wrong with your dog, make him fast for 48 hours.

Then, if your dog still refuses to eat after those two days, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Of course, this strategy assumes your dog is healthy and not displaying any concerning medical symptoms.

If you suspect your dog is ill for any reason, contact your veterinarian right away.

How Long Should You Wait Until You Contact Your Vet / Vet Clinic When Your Dog Stops Eating?

Contact your vet if your dog is refusing food for 48 hours.

As mentioned before, your dog can be without food for 48 hours.

That’s the question to your main question “how long can a dog go without eating?”.

However, only wait those 48 hours if your dog isn’t showing any other signs of distress.

This tip can’t be used for sick dogs!

You also should contact the vet within 24 hours if your dog doesn’t drink.

Always keep an eye on the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy

  • Diarrhea

  • Gagging

  • Wheezing

  • Vomiting

  • Weakness

  • Weight loss

If you notice any of those symptoms and your dog is not eating, always contact your vet immediately!

What Do Vets Do For A Dog Who Won’t Eat?

Dog at vet

Expect your vet to complete your dog’s physical examination during your appointment.

He’ll want to ensure your dog isn’t showing any severe undernutrition or dehydration.

The physical exam will also assist your veterinarian in determining why your dog isn’t eating.

If your vet’s physical examination does not reveal a likely cause, he will likely recommend additional tests for your dog.

X-rays to rule out pain or injuries, urinalysis, and blood tests are all possible tests.

He may also recommend these tests to confirm a suspected diagnosis based on the physical exam.

With just about any luck, your vet would be capable of determining why the problem is happening and suggest a good way to fix it.

If your dog has a severe illness or doesn’t start eating on its own, your vet may give it a feeding tube.

By doing this, the vet’s staff can ensure that their dog gets enough food while they figure out and resolve the issue.

How To Get A Dog To Eat And Drink

After answering the question “how long can a dog go without eating?”, you want to know how you can motivate your dog to eat and drink.

Making your dog’s food or water more appetizing is one strategy for getting your dog to consume it.

If your dog isn’t eating because of anxiety, this may help.

However, if your dog isn’t eating because of an illness, this is less likely to be effective.

You could try putting some beef or chicken broth in your dog’s water.

Adding a flavoring to the water can encourage your dog to drink more.

Add some seasoning to your dog’s food to improve its flavor.

Keep your dog off fatty treats and think about mixing in some boneless, skinless chicken breast instead.

You may also try seasoning it with a bland, canned dog or baby food.

The idea is to improve the flavor of your dog’s food so that they’ll be more interested in eating it.

Can Weather Have An Impact On Your Dogs Food Behavior And About How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

In hot weather, dogs, especially those acclimated to lower temperatures, may experience reduced activity.

After a long winter, even the most energetic dogs may be lazy on the first few days of spring.

Still, your mind is looking for the answer to this question: how long can a dog go without eating?

In Winter, cold weather, shorter days, dreary weather, and a lack of activity and stimulation can cause dogs to stop eating and have low dog appetites or show signs of lower energy.

The Importance Of Drinking Water

A dog, like a human, needs water to live.

Therefore, the question is not only “how long can a dog go without eating?”, the question needs to be used also about drinking water.

Healthy dogs can go three days without water, but that number quickly drops to zero.

After three days without water, your dog will need medical attention and rehydration.

The ratio of water to food is a good rule of thumb, with the former being double the latter.

A constant supply of clean water is a need for your dog.

Increasing the amount of water used could be necessary depending on the weather.

If it’s a hot day and you’re feeling parched, your dog may feel the same way.

If it hasn’t touched the water in its bowl in 12 hours, it’s time to make an appointment with the vet.

Dehydration, which can cause a cascade of other issues, is a potential outcome.

One may argue that water use is more crucial than food consumption.

The danger is that you’ll become so preoccupied with eating that you’ll completely ignore your body’s water needs.

If your dog refuses to eat, you should at least try to get them to drink water.

If your dog doesn’t drink or eat in more than 48 hours, they need to see a vet immediately.

Don’t Stress Over A Single Missed Meal

Don’t stress if your dog skips a single meal.

Wait to worry about your pup until he shows other concerning symptoms or has gone longer without eating.

Your veterinarian can determine the cause of the reason why your dog isn’t eating; they will be able to offer you practical options for treatments.

Your vet may give your dog an anti-nausea injection or prescribe oral medication if they aren’t eating because of sickness.

The vet may suggest a dental cleaning and/or extractions if your dog is not eating due to tooth pain.

Your veterinarian may recommend an appetite stimulant if they cannot identify a specific cause for your dog’s anorexia.

Your veterinarian may help you figure out a feeding schedule that works for your pet and includes tasty food high in calories and nutrients.

When Do I Need To Worry About My Dog Not Eating?

After 24 hours without water or 48 hours without food intake, you should be worried about your dog’s health.

If your dog also exhibits additional symptoms of illness, such as nausea, diarrhea, lethargy, or weakness, you should go to the vet.

Your veterinarian will inquire about your dog’s health and lifestyle to determine the cause of their loss of appetite.

The next step for the vet is to conduct a complete physical assessment on your dog in search of any underlying health issues influencing their desire.

If your veterinarian’s examination doesn’t reveal any clear reasons for the lack of appetite, they will likely suggest laboratory testing.

Your veterinarian’s clinical suspicions based on your dog’s medical history and physical exam will determine which diagnostic tests are necessary to rule out possible sources of pain.

At some point, you may notice that your dog is not eating.

That’s the point where you ask yourself “how long can a dog go without eating?”.

There are several reasons why dogs refuse food.

However, it would help if you took your pet to a vet for examination and diagnosis.

It is advisable to find out what ails your dog early instead of waiting until it is too late and your sick dog is malnourished.

Ideally, you should only wait for 48 hours.

If the behavior persists, you may want to ensure that your dog gets enough fluids, such as water, then visit your nearest vet office for expert help.

The only response that can be given to the question “how long can a dog go without eating?” is “it depends.”

Most dogs who are otherwise healthy may endure up to five days without food without putting their health in danger.

However, a small dog with underlying medical disorders needs immediate medical attention.

If your dog goes more than 48 hours without eating (or more than a day without drinking), you should get in touch with your vet to determine the next step for your pet.

Never wait too long if you ask yourself how long can a dog go without eating.

If he stops eating for any (unknown) reason, wait some hours and then contact a vet.

Before You Go…

Now you know the answer to the question, “How long can a dog go without eating?'”.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.