How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food?

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food?

There are many reasons that your dog may stop eating. It is not uncommon for a healthy dog to stop eating for a day, or two. If your dog has been ill at all, during this time, (If they have vomited, or had diarrhea.) then you need to take them to the vet straight away.  It is a myth that a dog can go without food for days, and still be fine.

Research shows that dogs need to eat, even when they are sick, and not feeling well enough to eat by themselves. Your dog can be fed through an IV tube, at a vet hospital, and will recover better.

Much like a human, in the hospital, who is unwell, and does not feel like eating, but still has to, your dog also needs good nutrition to get better. Your body and your dog’s need adequate nutrition to match their energy levels, even if they are resting.

There are many reasons that your dog may not be eating. You must never ignore a loss of appetite in a dog. In fact, you need to watch over them even more closely as there may be very serious underlying health problems, that you are not aware of, effecting their health.

Dog Anorexia

If your dog is not receiving adequate nutrition he, or she, will become weak, and their health may deteriorate. At your vet, your dog’s eating will need to be monitored carefully, to measure how much food your dog is eating, if any. Your dog may need to be attached to a feeding tube.

When a dog looses their appetite it is called ‘anorexia.’ There are many reasons that your dog many not be eating. Dogs, like people, may just not be feeling well, and not have a good appetite, for a couple of hours, or a day or so.

If your dog has had an upset tummy, a few days break form eating will give the gastro-intestinal tract a chance to mend. However, you need to make sure that your dog is drinking water.

Like humans, your dog runs a risk of becoming dehydrated. A dog that is nauseous also sometimes drools a little. Much like humans, your dog will not feel like eating if they are feeling nauseous. They will turn their head away from any food.

It will not matter what food you try and tempt your dog with, if they are not feeling well, they will not eat it, whether it is steak or their favorite treat. If your dog is not eating and is also lethargic, seek medical attention straight away.

Reasons Dogs Don’t Eat

There are many reasons that your dog may not be eating, that are not strictly related to physical health.


There may be psychological reasons that your dog is not eating Like a human, your dog may be stressed out, and feeling anxious – moving home is very traumatic for animals, and your pooch may not feel happy in a new place, yet.

In unfamiliar surroundings your dog will not feel secure enough, yet, to eat. Moving to a new home is upsetting to animals, and it will take the time to adjust to the new environment.

You should provide your dog with comforting smells, and a calming collar can also help your pooch to feel less anxious. (It has special medication in it, that will be absorbed by the skin.) You can leave a t-shirt (that you have worn) close to your dog, as they will not be familiar with the smells in your new home, and your scent will be a comfort.

Motion Sickness

Dogs also suffer from motion sickness. If you have taken your dog in a car, he or she, may not be feeling very well, and need time to rest, before their appetite returns. There are also far more serious health reasons that lead to a loss of appetite.

If your dog has any kidney problems, then you need to be concerned about possible kidney failure. A loss of appetite may also be related to serious illnesses, like cancer, liver problems, heart problems, and pneumonia.

If your dog is not eating and is also very lethargic, you need to take your pet to a vet straight away.

Dental Disease

Eating may be painful for your dog. You will need to have your dog’s teeth checked by your vet. Dental disease and infection in the mouth will make it painful for your dog to chew.

Your dog may need to have his, or her, teeth professionally cleaned, and may require anti-biotic medication.

It’s a good idea to make sure that your dog is given treats which are designed to clean the teeth. Harder dog biscuits help to keep teeth clean and should be included in the diet.

Especially if you live in an apartment and your dog doesn’t have access to sticks, which they would naturally chew on, in your garden.

Eye & Ear Infections

Infections in the body can also effect your dog’s appetite and appetite. Dogs are prone to fungal skin infections and eye, and ear, infections. They are fairly common, and easy to treat, but if your dog is in pain, and not well, they may not eat well.

The ear flap, in some breeds of dogs ( such as a cocker spaniel), is very long and covers the ear canal. Moisture can be trapped in the ear canal, and yeast infections can develop.

Some breeds of dogs also have a third eye-lid and more watery eyes. Routine cleaning of eyes and the ears, of some breeds, is necessary for some pet owners. Neglecting to do this can lead to infection, illness and a loss of appetite.

How Long Can Your Particular Dog Go Without Food?

This depends largely on the specific age of your dog, the weight of your dog, their general health condition, and the climate conditions, in your area.  If it is very hot, or cold, your dog will need more hydration, or, for example, more energy rich food.

For example, an older, thinner dog has fewer body reserves, and will not be able to survive for very long without sufficient food, especially in a colder climate.

A younger and healthier dog, with enough energy reserves, and access to water, would probably be able to survive a few days without food. Like humans, dogs can be in good, or poor, health.

Dogs can also suffer from arthritis, epilepsy and numerous other diseases. A dog that is not in good health will not be able to go without food for a long time, at all, without their health deteriorating quickly.


A healthy, young dog can go without food for a few days, but you need to watch over them carefully and check their activity level. If your dog has been ill, at all, during this time, you need to take your dog straight to a vet.

A loss of appetite can indicate far more serious health problems. Your dog may need tests for their heart, kidney, and liver function to be checked.

Always take an older dog to the vet, if they are not eating. This is very important for older animals – being dehydrated alone – is a serious health concern.

Your animal may be drinking a lot of water, but still be dehydrated, if their kidneys are not working well. Don’t take a chance. Kidney failure is fatal.

If you didn’t feel well enough to eat, then you would get medical advice. The same general principles apply to dogs. If you notice that your dog is not eating, be sure to monitor them closely, and measure the exact amount of food they are eating. A loss of appetite should never be ignored.

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