How Long Can a Dog Go Without Food?

Has your pooch stopped eating recently, and now has you worried and wondering: How long can a dog go without food, and should you get help?

Well, the answer depends on your doggo’s age and health, but before contacting a veterinarian, eliminate any harmless reason for this behavior.

For reasons and solutions to this problem, read on below!

How Long Can a Dog Live Without Food?

In most cases, healthy dogs can survive around three days without food, with some breeds even lasting five days, provided they are sufficiently healthy and hydrated.

That said, the following factors will influence your dog’s resilience to hunger:

  • The dog’s age is the main factor in determining how long dogs survive without food, with puppies and senior doggos experiencing issues sooner than healthy adults since they have weaker immune systems and are more susceptible to illnesses;
  • Physical health is the second most important factor to consider since sick and/or medicated dogs often lack the appetite to eat due to various side effects that make it difficult to consume and digest their meals;
  • Mental health is another significant factor to consider because stressed-out and anxious pups will succumb sooner to their hunger than relatively happy dogs.

If your pupper has not had anything to eat in the last 24 hours, start monitoring them closely and be on the lookout for signs of other more serious illnesses.

If you notice significant weight loss or other serious symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, coughing, or lethargy even, contact an online vet for advice or take your dog for a check-up and/or blood work to pinpoint the issue.

Potential Reasons Why Your Dog Is Not Eating

Now that you know how long it takes for a dog to starve, the first step to avoiding such a grim result is looking at the most common reasons that may cause it in the first place:

  • Allergies—if your dog is allergic to something in its food, it may refuse to eat it since it may cause nausea and stomach pain;
  • Neck pain—dogs may not want to eat if moving their heads or neck hurts, which may be caused by arthritis, ligament damage, or other minor injuries;
  • Nausea—most often caused by motion sickness, infections, and certain medications, nausea is a surefire way for your pooch to lose its appetite;
  • Diabetes—in addition to causing appetite loss, diabetes brings about excessive thirst and urination; also, diabetic doggos will require special diets and medications;
  • Infection—if your pooch has been infected by bacteria, viruses, or parasites, its system will be in turmoil, and the last thing it may want to do is eat;
  • Gastritiscaused by infections, allergies, or certain medications, gastritis inflames the stomach’s inner lining, and eating may actually cause pain and indigestion;
  • Dental problems—this one is quite obvious since dental issues, such as plaque buildup, tooth decay, or gum disease, may cause pain when chewing food;
  • Anxiety—similar to humans, anxiety can cause a lack of appetite in dogs, but this condition is easily treatable after figuring out its root cause.

No matter what medical conditions your dog is going through, it’s essential to pay close attention to its behavior and ensure it has fresh water at all times.

How Can I Make My Dog Eat Again?

There are various methods to motivate your dog to eat again, but animal specialists, such as Dr. Philips Animal Hospital, recommend trying several approaches in order.

First of all, you should try waiting for a bit to see if your dog’s appetite returns since, like us, they aren’t always hungry. Just remember to give them water during this time.

You can also make its food more appetizing by mixing in some tasty treats, adding its favorite dry food brand, or—if your pup prefers—tasty canned dog food.

To make its meal taste better, you can heat it up as well, thus bringing out its fragrant smells and palatability; sick dogs typically don’t smell or taste that well anyway.

When they are in distress, doggos are also picky about what they eat, so you can try feeding them bland and easy-to-digest meals, such as boiled vegetables and broth with chunks of bread; however, canned pumpkin is also a palatable choice.

At the end of the day, if your pup still refuses to eat, you can try hand-feeding it since it comforts them when they are feeling unwell. Your veterinarian should tell you if your dog should also take appetite stimulants and instruct you how to feed it with a syringe.

Key Takeaways

Since the reasons why a dog might not be eating range from innocuous stubbornness to a serious disease, you have to monitor your pup if that ever happens to ensure it’s nothing serious—which is the case most of the time. While doing so, ensure it has enough clean water to drink, and if anything seems amiss, immediately take them to the vet.

How long can a chihuahua go without eating?

Despite their diminutive size, chihuahuas can go without food as long as any other breed, which is between three to five days.

How long can a dog go without food but drinking water?

Dogs that do not eat but still drink water can survive for five days before their body starts failing them since water is more essential to an organism than food.


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