When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

There are several reasons why a dog may go off his food.

The dog may be sick, stressed, upset, or maybe on a hunger strike mainly because of food changes.

This is understandably upsetting for dog owners who often start to wonder how long their dogs can go without eating.

A healthy dog can go for several days or even months if they start at a good weight, have access to good shelter and water.

A sick dog can survive for days or even weeks without eating, depending on the particulars of the disease.

A sick dog, however, gets better fast with proper nutrition. Dogs fasting for an extended period is often because of underlying conditions.

You should never allow things to go that far without taking your dog to a vet.

In this discussion, we will try to help you understand everything about dogs refusing food, why it occurs, what you ought to do about it, and when to worry.

Why won’t my dog eat?

This is the most disturbing question for most dog owners.

The answer to this is not simple; there are many reasons why your dog might stop eating for some time.

Some reasons just require a simple vet visit, while others might need a lengthier healing process.

The common causes of food refusal in dogs include:

Health issues

Whether your dog has just got its vaccinations, has its teeth hurting, is feeling nauseated, or has any serious health issues like Parvo or Pancreatitis, your dog might stop drinking or eating.

When such happens, it is always a good idea to visit a vet.

Other health issues like Stomach upset, Organ failure, Allergies, Parasites, diabetes, cancer, or Intestinal obstructions can also be reasons why your dog can refuse to eat.

If you know your dog is suffering from any of these illnesses, this might explain the lack of appetite.

However, avoid panicking as many dogs may stop eating because of other reasons apart from these.

Picky Eating

Dogs may stop eating because they do not like certain types of food. Note that this can only happen occasionally.

Your dog might have been enjoying a given diet for months, then suddenly starts to refuse to eat it.

When this happens, the best thing is to try different foods with your dog until he decides on what to eat and stick with it.

However, this requires a lot of patience as you might need to dig deeper into your pocket trying to get a diet that will work well with your dog.

Keep in mind that some dogs get tired of the same food every day while others get upset when their diet is changed.

Changes in Lifestyle

When changes such as shelter or moving from a warm and happy home to a cold and loud sort of place happen, dogs get depressed, which might impact their eating habits.

A new pet in a new home being left alone for extended times affects its routines.

Monitor your dog, and things should get back to normal after a few days of trying to adapt to the new lifestyle.

Mental condition

Anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental conditions can make your dog stop eating.

A distressed dog may not be generally active or playful as other dogs, its sleeping schedule may change, and you might notice indifference to some of the things he enjoyed before.

Fortunately, these conditions are often treatable.

In several cases, you will have to figure out what is causing your dog to feel distressed or down and then make the appropriate changes.

If the situation persists, it is recommended you take your dog to the vet for a new treatment regimen to overcome this.

Factors that determine a dog’s survival time without food 

Some dogs can starve for a longer time than others, depending on several factors.

The factors that influence a dog’s survival time without food include:


Animals have different nutritional needs capable of maintaining them healthy at different stages of life.

Your dog is no exception.

Very old or very young dogs are more vulnerable to the effects of starvation than dogs in other growth stages.

Research indicates that death due to starvation is uncommon to healthy dogs older than six months and those of medium ages.

Starting body condition

The dog’s starting body conditions influence a lot on how long it can go without eating.

If your dog starts with a normal or above normal weight to starve, you will expect that dog to go for a long time without eating compared to a dog that is already lean or has a weight below the normal.

Activity level

The activity levels of a dog are another important factor to consider in starvation survival.

A dog walking freely or a dog working will require more calories than a confined dog.

A restricted dog can survive longer during starvation than a dog that is constantly in motion.

Weather and shelter

Environmental factors such as harsh weather influence a dog’s ability to survive starvation.

According to studies, dogs exposed to cold temperatures need two to three times the amount of calories they would at a more moderate temperature.

Increased calorie intake leads to greater fat storage and insulation and reduces or compensates for calorie loss from shivering and non-shivering.

Access to water

Water is one of the most important components in a dog’s body. A dog contains 80% water and 20% body mass.

A little drop in the water composition of your pooch will leave him dehydrated and at risk of getting into serious health issues.

Dogs that have access to water or have enough water in the body are known to survive longer than dogs without access to water or limited water in their body.

What should you do if you notice your dog is not eating?

Dogs, like any other living thing, need food to survive. Without proper food, your dog can get serious health problems and even eventually die.

To remain healthy and strong, your dog needs to eat a balanced and adequate diet.

If you notice your dog has reduced appetite, you should do your due diligence in determining the next step to take.

Some of the things you need to do when your dog is not eating include:

  • First, avoid panicking. It is normal for some dogs to stop feeding for a given period without encountering any severe effects. If your dog looks fine, fasting for a single or a couple of days is not a big deal.
  • Try to establish what the cause might be to your dog not eating. If you can determine the cause, take the necessary measures to restore the appetite.
  • Get your dog to feed on his favorite treat and observe to establish if your dog is simply a picky eater. If the dog eats them up quickly, then pickiness is the cause of the problem.
  • The eating routine also plays a role in the dog’s eating habits. If you feed your dog at a regular time, make sure you keep the same feeding routine. A dog will eat better during the normal time than a dog that is unsure when the next meal is.
  • Monitor your dog and keep a record of how long it has gone without eating. Do not let your dog go for an extended period without eating. If your dog does not eat between 48 to 72 hours, seek help from your local vet.

Tips for getting your dog to eat

If you have confirmed with your vet that there is no medical problem that is causing your dog to lose appetite, try the following tips for getting your dog to eat.

  • Rotate through different alternative dog foods. You can try different flavors, mix wet and dry food, switch between wet and dry foods in trying to determine the food that appeals to your dog.
  • Warm the dog food before giving it to your dog. Like human beings, dogs also prefer nice and warm meals.
  • Exercise your dog before meals. You can go for a walk with your dog; this will help in building up an appetite.
  • Add or mix the food with a tasty topper to see if it does the magic. A good option is fish, plain chicken, or low sodium beef.
  • Feed your dog at regular times each day
  • Try giving your dog some CBD. The National Cancer Institute reports that CBD increases appetite. We recommend Diamond CBD for Pets.

To ensure your dog is always happy and healthy, you must take good care of the food he eats and the time when he eats it.

If for some reason, your dog refuses to eat, observe for 48 hours and if the situation persists, talk to a veterinary professional.

Your vet will let you know what the issue is and what needs to be done.

Do not forget that your pooch needs you as much as it needs the food.

So, be close to him and give him the care he needs during this starving period.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

National Canine Research Association of America