How long can a dog go without eating?

how long can a dog go without eating

It may be that dogs are refusing food due to a medical or behavioral problem. In any case, pet owners who notice that their pet won’t touch food should be concerned, especially if the pet has always had a positive relationship with food. But how long can a dog go without eating?

According to experts, healthy dogs and cats can go “three, four or five days without eating, and even more.”

Water is more important than food. It can be a big problem if your dog does not eat or drink water. For example, if your dog has already been diagnosed with kidney disease, you need to take him to the vet immediately. Due to the disease, dogs in this case need immediate medical attention.

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how long can a dog go without eating?

How long can a dog go without eating?

How long can a dog go without eating varies from dog to dog and is influenced by many factors, such as:

  • age of the dog
  • The general physical and mental health of the dog
  • Time of the dog’s last meal
  • Whether the dog is currently ill or taking medication
  • How hydrated the dog is

Therefore, it is safe to say that there is no set time limit for how long a dog can go without food. A healthy dog, on the other hand, can go 3-5 days without eating. This assumption is based on the fact that it is not a puppy, an older or a sick dog. If you have a puppy, an elderly or a sick dog, you can greatly reduce the time when the dog can not tolerate anything good.

Never leave your dog hungry for an extended period. If your dog suddenly loses his appetite, you should seek medical attention right away because he is most likely suffering from a medical condition that requires treatment. In some cases, older dogs may refuse to eat as they prepare to die – but that’s not the topic of today’s article!

If no one is at home to feed the dog, you can use an automatic feeder. We can set it to feed the dog when you want. As a rule, you can feed a dog 4-5 times a day with such a feeder.

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1-2 days without food

Healthy dogs should have no adverse effects during the first 10-12 hours without food. However, hunger gradually increases over the next 12-48 hours. Typical symptoms include:

  • physical restlessness
  • bad breath
  • Squeaking and whining
  • listlessness 

During this time, the body first accesses the stored carbohydrates and then the energy in the blood (“blood sugar”) (“glycogen stores”). In the case of very young puppies, even 48 hours without food can be fatal. The same is true for pregnant and growing dogs. So, if you frequently forget to eat, I recommend an automatic feeder. This finally put an end to the feeding issue.

3-4 days without eating

Over the next two days, the hunger grows steadily. In addition to the symptoms listed above, there are the following side effects:

  • lack of energy
  • irritability and aggressiveness
  • Slowed metabolism
  • muscle breakdown

The dog’s body primarily uses the stored fat reserves during this time. Because 1 kilogram of fat contains approximately 7,700 kcal. A dog weighing 20 kilograms requires approximately 1,100 kcal per day. It can survive for approximately 7 days longer if it is one kilogram overweight. Important: If your dog does not eat for more than 48 hours for no apparent reason, I recommend that you take him to the vet as a precaution.

5-7 days without eating

During this time, the body’s remaining fat reserves are depleted. If these are not met, organ damage or death may result. Dogs and wolves are 99.9% genetically identical. This also explains why they are constantly attempting to suppress hunger and suffering. What are the reasons? Weak-looking wolves are not only easier prey for other predators, but they are also less likely to protect the pack.

You hardly notice dogs when they are about to starve for evolutionary reasons. This is true even if your body is already severely underweight. Severely overweight dogs can sometimes go up to three weeks without food because their fat reserves compensate.

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dog with stick

How Much Should a Dog Eat in a Day?

The metabolism of a dog varies from dog to dog, and the amount of calories in dog food varies, making an exact answer nearly impossible. Dogs, on the other hand, are typically feed 1-3 balanced meals per day. On rare occasions, my dog can go the majority of the day without eating but munch on a few treats in between – he can go a day without food if he’s particularly tired or ill, but otherwise, that’s the limit. The average dog should eat 1-3 meals of wet and dry food per day.

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What can cause dogs to refuse to eat their food?

Several factors can cause a dog to go hungry. Here we list them and offer suggestions on how you can help.


The disease can have an impact on a dog’s appetite and metabolism. Appetite loss and refusal to eat are usually symptoms of a larger problem. It’s time to take your dog to the vet if he hasn’t refused food for 24 hours. Ensure that they are well hydrated during this period, as a lack of water can cause more problems than a lack of food. Check to see if they are in pain, if they have been dewormed and if they are getting enough rest.

Dental problems

Many dogs who wrinkle their noses at food may have a dental problem that makes eating difficult or painful. Check your dog’s mouth for signs of a dental problem if he hasn’t eaten in a while.

New surroundings

Some dogs who are in a new environment, perhaps due to travel, may become averse to their food. If this is the case, your dog should resume eating after settling in. If this is not the case and it has been more than 24 hours, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order. Bringing comforts such as favorite toys and a favorite bed can help a lot with travel issues.

Behavioral problems

It is difficult to identify behavioral issues that cause dogs to refuse food. Here are some examples of behavioral issues:

  • Is the dog dish filthy?
  • Do you try new foods that they dislike?
  • Is there a vicious dog nearby?
  • Is the height of the bowl too high?
  • Are you dehydrated?
  • Are they upset because they got too many treats?

There are numerous potential problems, so it’s always a good idea to investigate them all before panicking; why not install a dog cam and keep an eye on them? Give it 24 hours before seeking medical attention, as with many of the other points mentioned above.

Also read:  How long can cats go without food? When should I become concerned if my cat isn’t eating?

What happens if a dog does not eat?

A dog that isn’t eating and starving to death is a frightening and depressing sight. Because starving is unpleasant, starving is a miserable existence. Hunger has several stages that can cause a dog’s appearance and behavior to deteriorate over time.

  1. A dog will be mostly fine after 24 hours of starvation. Instead of using up the nutrients in food, glycogen stores are depleted. Blood sugar is one of the most important factors in a dog’s ability to function normally. The dog’s supply should be sufficient to keep him at a relatively normal level for the first 24 hours.
  2. When the dog’s glycogen stores are depleted, the body starts generating energy from other sources, a process known as gluconeogenesis. The dog is now becoming unstable and unhealthy, with little energy left to do anything other than survive. It is critical at this point to take your dog to the vet or feed your dog, as death is on the horizon.
  3. Your dog is now burning fat for energy continuously, and the consequences of starvation are obvious. As an energy source, the liver also releases ketones into the bloodstream. There is nowhere else for the dog to get his energy, and if he is not given medical attention, he will die.

Conclusion: How long can a dog go without eating?

The main takeaways here are that a dog can go 3-5 days without food, but no food after 24 hours should be cause for concern. There could be several reasons why your dog isn’t eating, so consider all of them before seeking medical attention – it could be a simple problem that can be resolved quickly and easily.

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References: Pets Life Guide