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How Long Can Dogs Go Without Food?

  • 10 min read

The following information is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not constitute pet medical advice.
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How long can dogs go without food? If your dog begins to show some lack of interest in food, as a pet owner it’s only natural that you get worried. Most of the time, your worry is because you really don’t know how long your furry friend can go on without food before they get severely malnourished.

Dogs don’t just decide to go on a fast, just like humans, (except when we decide to avoid meals for a specific reason) a loss of appetite usually has an underlying cause which is mostly health related.

This article will give more insight into How Long a Dog Can Survive Without Food, possible reasons for skipping meals and what you can do to help them and prevent malnourishment.

A Dogs Appetite – How Long Can Dogs Go Without Food?

Dogs are usually known to have a ravenous appetite and devour any food within reach. That’s why you might have heard someone say something like, “you eat like a Dog”. But what happens when your dog stops eating like it normally should? There are various reasons why your canine might experience a loss in appetite.

A temporary loss of appetite in your dog is not something to become immediately worried about. Just like humans, dogs are sometimes not hungry and this is normal, especially when they’ve just had a snack. However, a more prolonged loss of appetite maybe a serious sign that should be promptly investigated.

depressed dog
Depressed Dog

Reasons a Dog May Loose Appetite

As stated earlier, there are times when a dog will simply not be excited about a bacon or whatever their favorite snack is. To help them, you need to know what exactly the problem is. Here are a few reasons why a dog may experience loss of appetite:


The most probable reason why your dog has lost his appetite is that he is sick. When you look up different symptoms for dog illnesses, you will see that loss of appetite is the most common. Whether it be bacterial or viral infections, dental issues, or more severe illnesses, dogs will not even want to think about eating when they can feel something wrong going on inside their body. As soon as you see that your dog’s loss of appetite is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, bloody stools, and other concerning signs, take them straight to the vet so you can diagnose and treat them as quickly as possible.


Many dogs don’t feel like eating after surgery, and in some cases, this is due to the anesthetic medications that can upset the stomach, diarrhea, and constipation. If your dog has undergone any type of surgery, her appetite should return within 24 hours, and if not, contact your veterinarian.


Poor oral health can cause a dog to avoid eating. They might refuse to eat because chewing causes them pain. Puppies might also stop eating because of the discomfort they experience from teething or having loose teeth. Adult dogs, however, might suffer from periodontal diseases that should be addressed immediately.


Dogs are sensitive creatures, and they like their environment a certain way. When there’s a disruption to that sense of order they have, it can be a very stressful situation for your pup, and that might cause him to stop eating. Tons of stressors can cause a hormonal imbalance in your dog. For example, moving to a new home, being away from their pet parents, introducing a new household member, leaving their litter, losing a fur friend, or being left in a kennel or someone else’s care.


Just like humans, pets can become depressed, especially after the loss of a loved one or a litter-mate. They may act a bit lethargic, and just not feel like eating. If your family friend is mourning the loss of a loved one, try to offer some extra attention, and if this doesn’t work, contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may prescribe an appetite stimulant or an antidepressant.

Recovering dog
Recovering Dog


Many dogs today are overfed and overweight. A lot of that is due to the feeding guidelines written on the back of commercial dog food. Some guidelines would tell you to serve 4-5 cups of food to your pup, but not all dogs can finish that recommended amount. Forcing your dogs to eat more than they need can cause digestive problems and lethargy, which will lead to more appetite loss. It is about understanding calories- just like you do with your food. If the dog is taking in more calories than expending them- then you will get a dog that is obese or not eating when food is presented.

Additionally, giving them too many doggy treats to reward them for good behavior or just to show them some extra love can lead to overfeeding. Remember that treats should be no more than 10 percent of their daily calorie intake. As tempting as it is to give your dog all the doggy treats he wants, don’t. Your dog will only end up relying on those treats as their sustenance instead of the real food they should be eating. 


Sometimes people say that dogs like to eat anything, but that’s not necessarily true. Since dogs have a more sensitive nose than humans, they can smell if the food in their bowl has gone bad. Make sure to read the label of any dog food you’re giving your pet to make sure it hasn’t expired. If you’re feeding your dog fresh food, make sure nothing is rotten or growing molds or has been left out in the open for too long.

If your dog is on a prescription diet, there’s a big chance that he won’t like the new food being presented to him and refuse it.


If your dog’s appetite was fine until you went on a trip with them or moved to a new location, it may be that your pup won’t eat because of traveling or the unfamiliar surroundings. Some animals may get car-sick, and others become nervous or uncomfortable in new places. It may take a day or two after a move for your pet to settle in and start eating again. Also, some pups are sensitive to new additions to the household, such as a new pet or a baby, and this may also cause a temporary loss of appetite.


Some canines just don’t have a big appetite, and you shouldn’t worry about that. There is nothing wrong with them. They were just born that way, and it’s in their genetics. For example, thousands of years ago, Huskies were bred to run and carry sleds all day. Their bodies have adapted to working all day and not stopping for any lunch breaks, so their metabolism is highly efficient, and they can go on happily about their day even with just a tiny amount of food in their system.


Sometimes, dogs stop eating because they don’t like their food or have gotten sick of it. If they’re picky enough, they might tolerate hunger just to avoid the unwanted food. Often, you’ll know this is the case if they avoid their kibble but welcome treats and other food. In that case, you’ll know it’s time to try another brand.

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food?

Every dog is unique and there is no set number of days that is “safe” for dogs who have gone on hunger strike, however, healthy dogs can typically survive up to five days without eating, but only if they have access to drinking water. In extreme situations, dogs have been known to survive without sustenance for much longer, but not without any severe health consequences.  

Please do note though that a change in appetite can be a sign of something quite serious, so if you are in doubt please make an appointment to see your vet.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Not Eating?


It’s hard for us to remember that dogs probably know their body more intimately than we do. Sometimes, fasting is their instinctive response to digestive distress or other health conditions, so it’s often best to let them be.


Some causes like pickiness are easier to solve. For instance, you can try to buy your dog’s favorite food, and if they start eating, ensure that you get enough for them.


Research shows that sick dogs recover faster and better when they eat sooner. So, try your best to encourage your dog to eat. Something other than their regular kibble might whet their appetite. Try some bland food like boiled chicken breasts or vegetables like pureed squash to aid their digestion.


If your dog refuses to eat for the second day in a row, they won’t have the energy required to support proper organ function. At this point, it’s best to get them checked and possibly treated for any medical conditions that might be causing their loss of appetite.

How long can a dog go without eating

What if My Dog is Healthy, But Still not Eating

If you have seen the veterinarian, and there is no medical reason for the inappetence, and he is healthy, try the following tips to get your pup to eat.

  • Cut back on treats and table scraps. Dogs who fill up on in-between meal snacks may feel too full to eat a regular meal.
  • Exercise your pet before mealtime. Just as with humans, fresh air and exercise can stimulate an appetite.
  • Feeding your pet on a regular schedule, at least twice daily. This way your dog will get used to a regular feeding routine.
  • Try to make mealtimes fun and entertaining, such as investing in a toy that dispenses food, or have your pup complete a task and reward him with a treat.
  • Experiment with feeding environment. For example, if you have other pets, feed your finicky eater in another room, or separate from the rest of the pack. Or if your pet has neck issues, try elevating the feeding and drinking bowls to make him more comfortable.
  • With your veterinarian’s OK, try feeding a different kind of food, such as canned food if you usually feed your pooch dry food.
  • Warm up the food. Try warming up food in the microwave. This will release aromas that your pet may not be able to resist.

Final Thoughts – How Long Can A Dog Survive Without Food?

Can dogs survive without food? Yes, but for a few days with water to drink. There are many reasons a dog will loose appetite and it is important to find out what the problem could be and seek ways to address it.

No Dog should be neglected if they are not eating. If you’ve tried all you can and still can’t get them to eat, a wise choice would be to see the nearest vet.

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