How Long Can Dogs Go Without Eating?

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How Long Can Dogs Go Without EatingHave you noticed that your furry friend hasn’t been eating as much lately? For many new owners, their dog’s appetite is an indication of their health condition and when your dog won’t eat, you’ll probably think to yourself, “How long can dogs go without eating?” The answer to this will depend on whether you have a small dog or a big dog and if they have health problems, which we discuss below.    

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Eating? 

If your dog is suffering from a health issue, it may start to suffer roughly 3 to 5 days without food intake depending on its body condition. Dogs suffering from a serious disease might not be able to survive after a couple of days without food. When your dog stops eating, it can be a major cause of concern but it’s important to know about the many factors that can affect how long your puppy can survive without food. 

On the other hand, healthy dogs can last as long as 5 days without food but this will depend on whether or not the dog is also drinking enough water. Some dogs may survive up to 7 days without food, but they shouldn’t be left alone for such a long time without medical attention. 

But if your dog is going through a temporary loss of appetite, there’s no need to panic. Because dogs can’t starve themselves on purpose, most of them will be able to start eating again after a day or two. If you notice that your dog hasn’t resumed eating or drinking within 48 hours, this could be a serious emergency that warrants a vet visit.            

Reasons Why Your Dog Has Stopped Eating

When your dog has a decreased appetite, you’ll want to know what’s going on but it’s not always simple to find out why your dog won’t touch its food. Sometimes it only takes a few food changes to encourage your dog to start eating again. Other times, determining the cause can take a long time especially if your dog’s appetite loss is caused by a medical problem.    

Below are the various reasons why a dog might refuse to eat, along with various solutions to get your dog to eat again.   

Medical Conditions Behind a Lack of Appetite

While there are many different reasons even in medical terms as to why your dog might stop eating, these are the most well-known:

  • Upset stomach
  • Infections
  • Parasites 
  • Pain
  • Food allergies 
  • Autoimmune Conditions
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Dental problems such as tooth decay
  • Side effects of new medication

If you think that your canine buddy is suffering from one of these conditions, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with your veterinarian. However, a sick dog may also stop eating its regular food for a variety of reasons. One might be because they’re feeling nauseous, which may lead to a loss of appetite. 

A different reason could be that it’s in pain, and eating could be exacerbating its discomfort. Additionally, dogs will avoid food if they’re suffering from dental issues such as gum disease which makes it painful or hard for it to chew. Finally, there are also illnesses that may change your dog’s sense of smell and taste, which can make your dog’s food unappealing to them. 

As responsible pet parents, it’s up to us to track and monitor our dog’s eating mannerisms and to contact the vet if our dogs continue to refuse food and show other worrying symptoms. When looking for signs of illness, your vet will perform diagnostic tests to see what’s causing their appetite loss. This is the best way to get a prescription diet so that your dog can get the proper nutrition it needs.   

Mental Health Conditions

Some dogs, despite being healthy, may also be affected by mental health conditions that may also lead to appetite loss. Separation anxiety and depression are common reasons why your dog might stop eating. However, it’s interesting how dogs will go through the same symptoms that people do when they’re affected by such conditions. 

Signs of depression in your dog may include: 

  • A decrease in activity level or physical activity   
  • Change in sleeping habits, whether your dog doesn’t get enough sleep or it sleeps all the time
  • Sudden disinterest in things they used to enjoy like treats or toys

Your vet should be able to determine if your pooch is going through depression; fortunately, there are medications and treatments that can help it. On the other hand, an anxious dog that has lost its appetite which results in behavioral changes will have the following symptoms: 

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Pacing
  • Aggression
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Tail tucking 
  • Hiding
  • Refusal to eat
  • Aversion to petting

Apart from their reduced appetite, you will be able to quickly spot these symptoms of anxiety. Your vet will also be able to help determine the best thing for you to do; most of the time, chronic anxiety can be treated through medication.  

Picky Eating Can Be a Problem

If your dog isn’t usually a picky eater, it’s essential for you to pay attention when they don’t want to eat their food. First, check that their food isn’t spoiled — if you just introduced it to a new food, it might smell different from your pup’s old food. Dogs may avoid their food if they notice a change in texture, especially when it changes from wet food to dry food or from kibble to home-cooked foods.   

Food sensitivities and allergies are other common reasons why your dog may become a picky eater. A common allergen among dogs is chicken which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach upset. Changing your dog’s protein source can help to change this, or you can also call your vet to see what can be done to improve your dog’s eating pattern. 

If your dog is simply eating less than it usually does, you should spend some time tracking how much it eats before going to the vet together. But if your dog has stopped eating all of a sudden, then visit your vet immediately.

How To Get Your Dog To Eat

Before looking into solutions for the appetite loss in your dog, be sure to take notes on whether your dog has medical issues that might be the reason why it’s refusing food, and see your vet in the next 48 hours. In addition, if your dog isn’t drinking, it shouldn’t be left without water for over 24 hours, as it could face severe dehydration. If you have healthy adult dogs, there are many things you can try such as an appetite stimulant to encourage normal eating again. 

You can also try these solutions that are easy to implement, but try to analyze which one will work best for your dog’s needs. 

  • Try new dog food: Try switching your dog over to something new slowly over the next few days while gradually decreasing the amount of old food. Should your dog start eating again, it probably got bored of the old food. 
  • Go for a different protein: If your dog has an upset stomach or is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, try feeding it a different kind of protein. Avoid chicken since this is a common cause of stomach problems in dogs.
  • Give them chicken broth: When a dog refuses to eat their food, you can help stir their appetite by adding flavor. Chicken broth can make their food smell and taste better to encourage a bigger appetite. 
  • Take away their treats: One reason why dogs won’t eat their food is that they’re no longer hungry after eating treats after treats from your hand. 
  • Win your fights: A stubborn dog that’s holding out for different food will need to be left hungry for a while. Simply put dog food in front of them for 30 minutes — if they don’t touch it, don’t offer it again until the next time to eat. Their instincts will kick in after a while, and it will force them to eat sooner or later. However, you shouldn’t wait for them to eat for over 48 hours; when it goes on for longer, it’s time to go to the vet. 
  • Mix in some wet food: Dogs will often get bored with kibble, so try to add some wet food to their meal. Wet food will entice them to eat because it can add moisture while it also smells and tastes better compared to dry food.   
  • Try adding food toppers: Some dogs won’t eat for long periods of time to see if they’ll get a different type of food. Picky eaters will eat just enough to keep going but they won’t eat much. Using food toppers will come in different flavors that will help to encourage dogs to eat.     
  • Feed your dog at a new place: If you usually feed your dog in a busy corner of the house such as the living room or kitchen, it may be easily distracted and could refuse to eat. In particular, young puppies can easily become distracted by anything around them so give your dog a quiet place to eat. 

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Water?

As a general rule, missing out on a source of water is a major concern for dogs. Much like humans, dogs can survive 2 to 3 days without food but won’t last longer than 24 hours without drinking water. Your furry friend will likely show signs of dehydration after missing out on drinking water for more than 24 hours, so it’s a good idea to see your vet right away. 

This condition is particularly dangerous on older dogs and senior dogs, and when dogs don’t get the right amount of water they need, it may lead to kidney failure, kidney disease, and problems in the GI tract. The good news is that a dog’s body will be able to recover using an electrolyte solution, ice cubes, canned pumpkins, or anything with high water content. You can also use warm water to recharge their thirsty organs and give them a boost. 

When to Contact Your Vet

When it comes to healthy adult dogs, you can wait for 48 hours before going to your vet if it hasn’t eaten. But if your puppy hasn’t taken anything to drink in 24 hours, you should call your vet immediately. Below are a few symptoms you can check on to see if your dog is in need of medical attention:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Gagging
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness

If your pet hasn’t been eating and is showing these symptoms, it’s imperative that you seek veterinary care right away. 


Our dogs will be able to survive for up to 5 days without food, but won’t be able to last longer than 24 hours without water. To avoid signs of dehydration and to help them go back to their normal eating habits once they’ve lost appetite, it’s best to see the vet who will be able to determine the cause. When it comes to picky dogs, there are plenty of things you can try to create meals that will be more appealing to your pooch to stir their appetite.