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How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Eating Or Drinking?

When bringing home a new puppy, putting together a proper feeding regimen is critical to their overall health and wellness.

If you have a hectic schedule and cannot tend to your pup throughout the day, it is important to know about their eating habits.

So, how long can a puppy go without eating or drinking?

In short, a three-week-old puppy can go around two hours without eating.

At around month four, you should feed your puppy every five hours.

If you are out for more than five hours by chance, you should always ensure you feed them within at least two hours after the recommended five hours.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the specifics.

The First Three Weeks

The first three weeks after birth are one of the most critical times to ensure you are correctly feeding your puppy.

When a new puppy is born, they are entirely reliant on their mother for nourishment.

Although puppies are born unable to see or hear, their poignant noses are more potent than ever, and they can still smell, leading them to their mother for nourishment.

At this stage of life, it is critical to ensure your puppy is getting enough nourishment.

If a three-week-old puppy goes more than two hours, their immune system could become compromised and then become sick.

Therefore, you should always keep a close eye on your newborn pup to make sure they are eating enough.

Between Four and Eight Weeks

By the time your puppy reaches the four-week mark, they should be able to eat some puppy food and water, with some nourishment still coming from the mother.

It is important to gradually introduce them to puppy food at this stage and slowly try to make them less reliant on their mother’s milk.

At this stage, you should ensure that your puppy goes no more than five hours without food.

You could exceed this by one to two hours; however, we don’t recommend this.

If your puppy is around six to seven weeks old, they can last up to eight hours without food; however, nourishment in this stage is critical, and not feeding them for this amount of time is not recommended.

At week eight, the puppy should be completely reliant on regular food, as the mother will begin to wean them off of her milk.

This is why dogs are available for adoption at the seven to eight-week mark, as they are no longer reliant on their mother’s milk.

It is essential to feed your pup at least three to four times each day at the eight-week mark.

Because nutrition is so critical at this stage, it is crucial to consult the recommended servings on the bag.

Eight Weeks and Older

By eight weeks, you should fully transition your puppy to eating puppy kibble.

At this stage, it is important to ensure they are eating at least three to four times daily.

We recommend feeding them like this until they are around twelve weeks or three months old.

It’s also important to note that the puppies will be adopted and transitioning into a new home around this time.

Therefore, it is critical, especially at this stage, that they are kept on a strict feeding regimen and don’t miss any meals.

As your puppy begins to grow, the increments between meals can increase.

When they are around three months old, your puppy’s feeding increments can decrease to around 2-3 daily.

When your puppy is about six months old, it can go without food for nearly seven hours.

Can My Puppy Go Without Food Overnight?

Most puppies can last throughout the entire night without having to eat.

However, it is essential to feed them as soon as you wake up, as they will naturally be hungry.

It is important to note that this could vary between puppies, as some may have anxiety, while others may even sleep longer than usual.

Both of which are very normal and not an area of concern.

What If My Puppy Isn’t Eating?

As you get to know your new puppy, you will begin to recognize their various eating habits.

Some puppies may not want to eat every time you feed them, which is perfectly fine; it just shouldn’t be made a habit.

However, if your puppy rejecting food becomes more commonplace, it is important to consult a vet.

This is especially critical for young puppies, as their bodies tend not to store as many nutrients and other substances that are conducive to life.

There could be various reasons why your puppy may not want to eat.

Let’s go over each in more detail to inform you of the signs and symptoms of these particular issues.

Your Puppy is Picky

Like people, some dogs can be picky eaters; however, it is best not to encourage this behavior.

If your pup is not eating the food you are giving them; it is best to continue trying to feed them the same food, as they will only become pickier in the future if you change food multiple times.


Many puppies experience anxiety at some point, as they are still adjusting to their new home and the world around them, which could cause them to stop eating.

This could be due to separation anxiety, which is quite common for many puppies still adjusting to their new life.

If you believe that this is the root cause of your puppy not eating, you should ensure that you do not change their routine.

Keeping a routine allows puppies to feel safe and not worry about the unexpected.


If your puppy is not eating for a long time, this could mean that they have fallen ill.

If this is the case, take your pup to the vet right away and consult with them on the best steps forward.

This is often the case if your puppy goes over a day without wanting to eat.


This is why deworming treatments are critical for pups, as it prevents any parasite from harming them.

If your puppy has a parasite, it will give them a stomach ache and won’t feel like eating.


Because your puppy is still growing and their adult teeth are coming in, they may experience some pain or soreness that will make it difficult for them to chew.

Therefore, we recommend that you pour some water over your puppy’s food to soften up the kibble.

If any of these issues persist, you should take your puppy to the vet to receive a professional opinion.

Getting Your Puppy to Eat

Getting your puppy to eat again is somewhat of a challenge.

However, it is possible by following these simple steps.

  • Moisten their food: This is especially relevant to the teething issue; however, you can apply this method to nearly any issue that we referred to above. This will make chewing kibble much more manageable, especially while they are teething.
  • Chicken: If your dog is just a picky eater, adding some chicken or other dog-friendly meat to their meal will entice them to eat and help them look forward to their next meal.
  • Wet Food: If you are primarily feeding your puppy dry food, try throwing some wet food into the mix, as the smell will often attract them to their bowl.
  • Hand Feeding: Feeding your pup by hand could sometimes encourage them to eat. If this works, especially if they are anxious or teething, it may benefit from continuing until they eat independently.

Final Thoughts

Raising a puppy can be a challenge for both you and your pup.

However, it is vital to ensure that your puppy receives enough nutrition during these crucial stages of growth.

It will allow them to grow into a happy and healthy dog, which is sure to be a loyal, loving, and playful companion for many years to come.

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National Canine Research Association of America