how long can a dog go without eating

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

If your canine has recently lost his appetite and started refusing food, you may be thinking, how long can a dog go without eating?

In extreme circumstances, healthy dogs can survive without food for weeks, even months, if they have a good weight, good shelter, and freshwater.

In normal cases, they may refuse to eat or drink for several reasons related to behavioral or medical issues.

A dog can survive 3 to 5 days without food unless it is also displaying signs of serious disease.

If she is refusing to eat or drink and also showing signs of sickness, take her to the vet as soon as possible.

If your hound has recently stopped eating, it is critical to pinpoint the possible reasons so that you can take the right steps to restore his appetite and treat the underlying medical issues.

In this article, we will explain how long can a stray dog survive without food, why it happens, what you should do about it, and much more.

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

When it comes to an adult dog’s day-to-day life, he can live without eating food for about 2 to 3 days.

A thoroughly healthy hound can survive for 5 days without eating.

Nonetheless, food provides them requisite energy and essential nutrients, and poor eating habits will be harmful to your canine’s general health and wellbeing.

Even if there is no reason for refusing to eat food, try to help him restore his appetite.

If your pooch is sick, very old, very young, underweight, or food refusal is followed by signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, visit the vet immediately.

If he looks healthy, you can wait for 48 hours, but try to get him to consume something during this timeframe and make sure he is drinking water.

On the flip side, if she is pregnant, has recently given birth, or is lactating, she won’t be able to survive without food for too long.

how long can a dog go without eating
How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating

What Factors Determine How Long Can A Dog Survive Without Food?


Age plays an important role in determining how long can a dog go without food before dying.

Death due to not eating is uncommon in pooches that are less than 6 months old.

Weather And Shelter

Keeping a dog outdoors in extreme weather can make it difficult for him to survive without food.

According to research, cold weather might be harsher on a starving mongrel than warm weather.

Body Condition

A hound’s body condition affects his ability to starve for a long time. 

If he begins starving at a normal or above normal weight, he will be able to go without eating longer than a mutt who was already skinny before starvation. 

Access To Water

Dogs that do not have access to both food and water won’t be able to survive longer.

On the other hand, if they have access to water, they can survive for 11 to 20 days without food easily.

Activity Level

A dog’s activity level is a vital factor in starvation survival. A four-legged baby who does not perform the exercise will need fewer calories than a doggie that performs exercise.

Why Does A Dog Refuse To Eat Food?

He Is A Picky Eater

Dogs have a reputation for being picky eaters. When it occurs, try to feed him different types of foods until he picks one, and then you stick with it.

This process demands a lot of patience because you will have to spend a significant amount of money to find the right formula that he enjoys.

Lifestyle Modifications

Many mutts refuse to eat when they first come to their shelter because they are anxious, going from a warm, comfortable home to a cold shelter.

But, these transformations won’t make them that miserable and sad that they stop eating altogether.

A new apartment, a new pet, feeling alone, or any other change in their lifestyle can lead to anxiety, and your furry fellow may take some time to feel right to eat again.


Some medications can decrease your four-legged baby’s hunger and make him feel sick. That’s why; they show disinterest in the food.

If your mongrel is taking medications regularly, check the label for language warnings. Also, consult with the vet and inform him that your pooch has lost his appetite.

The chances are that the vet will change your doggie’s prescription to another medication that won’t reduce his desire for food.

Medical Issues

Several health problems can cause the dog to lose its appetite. The most common medical issues are:

  • Allergies
  • Upset stomach
  • Autoimmune ailments
  • Parasites
  • Pain due to arthritis or injuries
  • Dental problems
  • Life-threatening diseases like cancer, organ failure, diabetes, etc.
  • Infections

If you know that your beloved companion is suffering from any of these diseases, know that he is refusing to eat due to any of these illnesses. 

Emotional Or Mental Problems

Stress, apprehension, depression, etc., can instigate them to stop eating food. This should not be unanticipated because we also lose appetite when we are stressed, depressed, or upset.

Luckily, mental and emotional problems can be treated. In many situations, you can treat them yourself by determining what is causing them to feel sad and making suitable modifications.

For instance, if your mongrel is anxious, you may find that spending time with him, giving him a new interactive toy, taking him on a walk, or playing with him makes him feel better.

However, if you have tried to treat his mental and emotional problems but gained no success, take him to the veterinarian.

how long can a dog go without eating

What Happens When A Dog Does Not Eat Food For A Long Time?

If he won’t consume food for a long time, he will lose weight and become skinnier. Starved canines experience transformations in their blood parameters.

A research that was conducted in 2013 found that starved hounds experience the following changes:

  • Low albumin
  • Decreased red blood cells
  • High blood waste product
  • Low blood calcium
  • Low platelets

The study also found that they don’t go into ketosis when they are starving as humans do. Lengthy fasting also affects their organs. They may experience:

  • Liver cell shrinkage
  • Thyroid gland atrophy
  • Wasting away of skin structures
  • Ulcers, bleeding, and bruising of the stomach

How Long Should You Allow Your Canine To Fast?

As we mentioned earlier, healthy mutts can live without food longer as long as they have shelter and water.

However, dogs who decide to starve are a different case completely.

It is normal for them to skip one or two meals sometimes. But a healthy canine won’t refuse to eat his food for more than 2 or 3 days unless he is dealing with an underlying health problem.

Hence, we would advise you to take a healthy pooch to the vet if he has not consumed anything for 2 days. You should not wait for him for a week to eat something.

If he has diarrhea, cough, breathing issue, vomiting, or weakness, you can visit the vet even sooner.

If he eats occasionally, you should get the vet involved when he has lost more than 10% of his body weight.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Stops Eating?

Lack of appetite affects all dogs differently; therefore, you should use your judgment while figuring out the steps to take for your little one.

You can do the following things if your mutt suddenly stops eating:

Don’t Panic

Remember, all canines at some point in time refuse to eat for a short duration without going through any severe side effects.

If your baby looks healthy and completely fine, fasting for 24 or 48 hours won’t hurt him.

Find Out The Reason Your Dog Has Stopped Eating

Check his food, reflect his daily lifestyle, and examine the label on any medications he has had in the past few days.

If you can find out the reason your dog has refused to eat, you can most probably make transformations to help restore his appetite.

Give Him His Favorite Treats

You can give him his favorite treats to see if he is simply being a finicky eater or any other reason is triggering him to refuse to eat.

If he eats his treat such as cheese, chicken, hot dog slice, etc., it means he does not like the food you are currently feeding him.

Get In Touch With The Vet If He Does Not Eat For 2 Days

If he continues to refuse to eat for 48 hours and is healthy and not showing distressing health symptoms, then talk to the vet about the situation and ask for his advice.

If you think that he is sick, take him to the veterinarian immediately. 

How Should You Feed A Dog Who Refuses To Eat?

No matter how long they can survive without food, you should inspire them to eat food. Restoring their hunger as soon as possible is necessary to cure the disease.

On the flip side, if he refuses to eat because you have modified his food, try to switch him to the new food slowly.

If you are feeding him a dedicated formula for disease and he refuses to eat it, talk to the vet to discover other options or consider the need for change.

If you have recently got a new dog or have a canine who is recovering from surgery or disease, here are some tips you can use to get him to eat food again:

  • Dogs love wet food because it is extremely tasty. If your hound is sick, you can feed him wet food that is exclusively designed for that specific ailment. However, if he is thoroughly healthy, you can choose any option without any hesitation.
  • You can also try to feed him pureed food in small amounts. You can put this highly digestible food directly into his mouth using a syringe without a needle. Bear in mind; the syringe should be positioned at the side of the mutt’s mouth. You can add water or soup to the puree to enhance hydration.
  • If you prepare food for him at home, make sure the chunks are bite-sized. Avoid adding salt, sugar, oil, bones, etc., in his food because all these things are unhealthy.
  • To add flavor, you can add spices and herbs to their food, but it is not generally recommended. The smell of the herbs (fennel, ginger, mint, and dill) and spices will stimulate their appetite. Add a small quantity to cooked food to help revive his appetite.
how long can a dog go without eating

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can A Canine Die From Fasting Too Long?

Yes, they can die from fasting too long, just like humans. They can survive for 4 to 5 days without eating. However, if they don’t eat for 2 days and also show signs of sickness, contact the veterinarian instantly.

2. What Happens When A Pooch Does Not Eat Food For 24 Hours?

If he does not eat for 24 hours, it is not a big deal, and you should not be worried about it. If he does not have diarrhea or vomiting and simply refuses to eat, there is nothing to worry about. But if he refuses to eat after 48 hours, contact the vet.

3. Will A Dog Ever Starve Itself?

If he is a fussy eater, he won’t starve himself just because he is a bit selective about his food. Although they can refuse to eat food for about one day, if they continue to refuse to eat, bring them to the vet.


If your pooch has stopped eating, it can be distressing for you, but you need to know that these kinds of fasts will resolve themselves in a few days and are not a big deal.

They sometimes skip meals for many reasons, and as long as they are completely healthy, you don’t need to worry if they decide to skip their meal.

However, observe your mutt, look for any other signs, and get in touch with the vet if the fast surpasses 2 days or so.

We hope you enjoyed reading our article “how long can a dog go without eating,” and we encourage you to share it with your loved ones if you find it helpful.

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