How Long Can a Dog go Without Eating

How Long Can a Dog go Without Eating

Author WDF Staff


Living things need food to survive; that is a simple fact. Nothing can survive without food, and our dogs are no different. However, dogs will often refuse food, which is when many of us start to worry about their health. That is entirely natural, especially if your dog is enthusiastic about food. They will usually eat anything, and suddenly, they are not eating. It can be very stressful for dog owners whose dogs won’t eat, and there is usually one question we all ask ourselves, “How long can dogs not eat?”

What to do if my dog is not eating?

The first thing you need to know is that dogs often refuse to eat, and if that behavior just started, there is no need to start worrying about it just yet. Keep a close eye on your dog and if the behavior continues for 12 - 24 hours, call your vet. They will let you know what you should do next.

Typically, dogs can go without eating any food for at least 5 days. The most important thing is to keep your dog well hydrated while this is happening. However, we know you will probably get very worried about your dog, so it is a good idea to start reading about possible reasons why your dog might not be eating. Some of the most common reasons dogs might refuse food are;

  • Sickness
  • Emotional issues
  • Their owner isn’t close
  • Medications
  • Habits
  • Changes in the recipe in their food

You can read more about these reasons here - Main reasons dogs are refusing food.

As you can see, there are many harmless reasons dogs might not want to eat, and as soon as these problems are settled, your dog will likely dive headfirst in their bowl. There is some difference in how long healthy dogs and unhealthy dogs can go without food.

Unhealthy dogs

Dogs that are sick will need more energy to fight whatever is bugging them. Their immune system is compromised, and they might be fighting a fever or an infection. That requires the body to burn calories and proteins. Unhealthy dogs can go up to 3 days without eating, but it is absolutely vital they are adequately hydrated. If your dog refuses to eat and drink for more than 24 hours, you should call your vet and ask for advice. They might advise you to bring your dog for observation. One of the things they will definitely do is get an IV going. Your dog will need plenty of fluids.

Healthy dogs

Healthy dogs who refuse to eat can go without any food for 5 days if they are drinking enough water. 5 days is the minimum of how long a dog can go without eating; some can even go up to 7 days. However, you should never let that happen. If you notice your dog is not eating for more than 24 hours, you should call a vet and schedule a check-up. Your dog might have some condition without any visible symptoms.

What if my dog doesn’t want kibble?

Some dogs can only seem like they don’t want to eat anything, but they are not eating because they are picky. Perhaps the manufacturer changed the food’s recipe, and your dog no longer finds it appealing. Luckily, there are pretty easy solutions for that.

You can check your dog’s will to eat by offering them a tiny piece of food they usually find irresistible. Just make sure that food is safe for them. Don’t offer your dog things like chocolate, raisins, or foods containing xylitol. These things are toxic to dogs and can have tragic consequences.

Offer your dog a slice of ham or a bit of unseasoned chicken meat. If they refuse something so delicious to them, you can start worrying. Not eating can be a sign of toxicity as well, so make sure you check the dog’s immediate environment for signs of things they might have ingested. Check your home and yard for toxic plants. If you are not sure which plants are toxic to dogs, check out this article - Plants toxic to dogs.

You can always “spike” your dog’s kibble with things like chicken meat, greek yogurt, or broth. That might not be a long-term solution, but it might get some food in your dog and help them recover from whatever is bugging them. Another thing you can do is change your dog’s usual food. They could have grown sick of the food they are eating, and you can pick one of these foods - Dog food for picky eaters.

In conclusion

Dogs can stop or refuse food for different reasons, and most of the time, it is nothing serious. You shouldn’t start panicking right away. Try giving them things they find irresistible and see how they react. There is always the option of changing their diet. Keep a close eye on them and if the problem continues, call your vet. Healthy dogs can usually go up to 5 days without eating. Still, you should never let the situation go on for so long without contacting your vet.

World Dog Finder team

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