How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating | What Expert Advice! [ Important Facts ]

Any dog ​​who can go two or more days without eating and without the temptation to eat means that there is something wrong and only a vet can help identify the problem.

All living things need food to survive. Without it, everyone would get sick and eventually die. Your dog is no exception; It must eat a balanced and adequate diet to stay healthy and strong. But what if your dog doesn’t want to eat dog food when It should?

Well, first of all, don’t worry too much! Dogs can survive for a while without eating. In the meantime, you’ve got a lot to read about why they’re not eating, and what you can do to help your pet get their appetite back on track in no time.

We will try to understand how a dog’s digestive system works and what might cause it to fast from eating.

How long can a dog live without eating?

The period of “starvation” depends from one dog to another. The following factors generally influence this period:

  • Dog age
  • The physical and mental strength of the dog
  • The time of the dog’s last meal
  • State of health or well-being of the dog
  • Dog hydration levels


A healthy dog ​​can live without food for three to five days under any circumstances. This hypothesis concerns puppies, the elderly, and the unhealthy. However, conditions such as age (in terms of puppies and sick dogs) may not last the entire period like that of a healthy dog.

It’s rare for dogs to refuse to eat if you suspect loss of appetite, seek medical attention immediately. Your dog may be suffering from an illness that requires the attention of a veterinarian. Don’t be surprised that some dogs are not in the mood to eat, as they are preparing to die (due to age).

How long can a dog go without eating when It’s sick?

When dogs are not feeling well, they often stop eating. In some cases, this can actually help them improve faster, but only for a small period of time.

This is especially true if the dog’s illness is related to Its gastrointestinal tract, which gives It the opportunity to recover. However, more than two days without food can make the situation worse.

In 2015, research was presented at the meeting of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition based on a study of 490 dogs hospitalized for at least one day at the University Veterinary Hospital of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

After looking at a variety of parameters, the researchers found that dogs who ate at least enough to meet their resting energy needs were more likely to be discharged alive. Dogs that did not eat on their own when they first arrived performed poorly.

How long can a dog go without eating

Some reasons your dog refuses to eat


A sick dog loses Its appetite thus affecting Its metabolism. Refusal to eat and lack of appetite can mean a bigger problem. A dog that has not eaten for 24 hours should be taken to the veterinary clinic. When you go to the vet, make sure the dog’s hydration levels are reasonable if not close to normal.

Dental problems

Dogs who turn their nose when they see a meal may have an underlying dental problem that makes it difficult to eat. Watch your dog’s mouth for any signs of dental problems.

New environment

Some dogs may take a long time to adjust to a new environment. Some can adapt to long breaks without food as they move from point A to point B. You may need to take your dog’s toys to help It acclimate to the new setup.

Behavioral problems

It’s hard to try to relate behavioral issues in dogs with zero or reduced appetite, but here are some tips you can use to analyze animal behavior:

  • Dirty bowl
  • New food or they don’t like what’s on the menu
  • Does the dog feed among aggressive dogs?
  • The height of the bowl should not be too high
  • Is the dog dehydrated?

The three phases of a dog that does not eat

Animal lovers can’t stand the sight of a hungry dog, which is why hunger is such a miserable existence. When a dog goes into starvation, these three phases affect the dog’s appearance and behavior as the starvation progresses from phase I to phase III.


Phase I

This stage occurs within the first 24 hours, which does not indicate any serious changes in the dog. Internally, glycogen will start to be depleted as they replace nutrients missing from dog food. Blood sugar at this stage should be normal to keep the dog’s metabolism at a healthy level.

Phase II

As the dog’s glycogen supply begins to decrease, the body begins to seek other sources of energy in the body (  gluconeogenesis  ). The dog becomes unhealthy and unstable with very little energy which only keeps It alive. If you still don’t know what is causing your pet pain, take your dog to the vet as death is looming at this point.

Phase III

At this point, the dog has started to turn the remaining fat into energy, and the effects of a hungry dog ​​are now visible. The liver also releases ketones into the bloodstream as energy. Since the dog has no other external source of energy (food), at this point the dog needs medical attention if it does not receive it, it will eventually die.
How long can a dog go without eating

My dog ​​refuses to eat or drink. What should I do?

If your dog suddenly refuses to eat or drink, your safest bet is to call the vet. If your dog is sick and refuses to eat or drink, It may have an upset stomach.

Start small. Offer a small bowl of water or even try feeding with a spoon. If your dog doesn’t take water, try chicken or beef broth. Keep trying every two hours.

If it’s been 24 hours without fluid, call the vet. They may need to give your dog fluids intravenously. You can also give water using a syringe – 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time.

If your dog doesn’t feel like eating dog food, your best option is to offer small amounts of rice cooked in chicken broth. You can also offer boiled chicken. Again, start slowly. If your dog doesn’t eat in a day or two, contact your vet.

What should you do when leaving your dog home alone?

Typically, your dog needs twice as much water as food each day. If you are going to be leaving your dog home alone, be sure to provide plenty of water.

If your dog is staying outside on a hot day, be sure to provide extra water and add ice, then try to keep it in a shady spot. An automatic water bowl dispenser is preferable because it fills automatically and is more difficult to spill. Make sure the bowl you are using cannot easily tip over.

Depending on how long you have been away, you may also want to leave food or feed it yourself when you return. Ideally, you can have someone drop by to check on your dog if it’s particularly hot.

If you have to leave for more than 24 hours, you should have someone come to feed and water your dog or come on board so that they receive the proper care. Leaving your dog without food or water for 24 hours can lead to serious health problems and should be avoided.

Final Thoughts

We all know that all living things get their energy from what they consume. In order for your dog to be protective and perform all of Its daily activities, It will need to eat its daily food rations.

Energy is consumed even when they are asleep because the energy must be active to keep the dog alive. As a rule of thumb, never try to figure out how long your dog can go without food, as the longer you delay It, the higher the risk of starving It.

At some point, you notice that your pet is not eating or is not interested in what you are providing. This behavior can signify some underlying issues. Treat your dogs, visit a veterinarian, and seek advice.
You will be happy and content when you help your pet early enough. You don’t have to count on days to make things worse for your pet. Sometimes waiting two days may not be reasonable unless the dog shows no signs of serious illness, but make sure the vet is aware.

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