How Long Can Dogs Go Without Food?

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Author: Tilly Walker

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well!

Just like humans, dogs also need to eat to live and stay healthy. It’s also true that they get tired of the same kind of food and need different kinds. But, what happens when dogs just stop eating? How long can dogs go without food? Will they survive without eating food?

Key Takeaways

  • Healthy dogs can easily go two-three days without eating food. In the case of puppies, they require their food for better development of their body.
  • There are many reasons behind not eating food such as medical issues, changes in food, depression/anxiety, picky eaters, etc.
  • If your canine is a picky eater, and that’s the reason he is not eating, In such a scenario, give him time do not force-feed him.
  • Recommended if your dog is showing medical symptoms and not eating his food, then immediately take him to the clinic.
dog not having food
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It’s important to know everything about your dog, so you can handle the situation wisely and take him to the vet on time. We have jotted down the possible reasons behind your dog’s not eating his food, as well as tips to overcome the problem and avoid future health issues.

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How Long Can Dogs Survive Without Food?

Well, it solely depends upon your dog’s health. Generally, healthy dogs can go off without food for 3 days if they are drinking water. It has also been noticed that a few dogs have survived for 7 days without food, again depending on the health of the dog.[1]

If your dog is not healthy and does not drink enough water, he probably cannot even handle two days without eating anything.

If you notice that your dog is skipping a meal, try to figure out the reasons, and then take action to overcome the issues.

Reasons Your Dog Is Not Eating Food

As discussed above, most dogs can survive without eating food for a week, but there are also a few dogs, which cannot go more than 2 days without eating anything. So, let’s quickly get to the point and explore the possible reasons behind your dog’s not eating his food.

1. Your Pup Might Be Sick

Just like humans don’t feel like having solid food when they are not well. Similarly, the dogs also don’t feel like eating anything, when they are sick or under any prescribed medication.[2]

dog is sick
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So, if your dog is sick or under any treatment, it’s likely they will not show interest towards having their meal. No matter, if you keep his favourite meal in front of him, if he is not in a mood he won’t even have a bite from the dish.

2. Suffering From Any Underlying Health Issue

If your canine is suffering from any underlying health issue, then also it’s possible that he will stop eating his food. Loss of appetite, or start skipping meals is one of the common signs that your dog is suffering from any health issue.

  • Dental Issue
  • Alleges
  • Gastritis
  • Joints pain
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Intestinal Blockage

These are the underlying health issue and many other related one, in which dogs doesn’t feel like having their meal. And also give up on their regular life, like no activities, and no walking, they prefer to just stay in one place.

3. Might Be Under Depression

It could be possible that your furry pal is depressed, something is bothering him, and he is not able to express it to you.

dog under depression
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According to the survey, dogs show signs of depression like they stop playing, change their sleeping schedule, stop eating their meal, not interacting, etc. In this case, it is always advisable that you consult the vet.

Recommend taking him to the vet, and bringing out the solution as soonest, to avoid further health complications, which can occur due to not eating meals.

4. Change in Food

My friend, if you have recently made some changes in your pup’s diet, then be ready to face the consequences. Yes, you heard it right.

dog food change
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Dogs don’t like their diet to be changed, especially when they are comfortable with one. So, this could be one of the reasons behind his skipping meals habit and starving himself.

In fact, a change in eating schedule also can disturb your pup’s mood, and he might just not adapt to the new routine. It is suggested not to force him, and deal with the situation very calmly.

5. Picky Eater

Well, dogs are picky eaters. Just like cats, they are also finicky about their food. Easily, they don’t stick to one food, if he is bored with one type of meal will simply stop having their meal. So, this could be one of the reasons behind his skipping meals and starving for a long time.

During such a scenario, you have to keep more patience with your furry pal. This is because you are already trying a variety of food for your fido, which he can probably like. This procedure will take time, so don’t get frustrated with your dog’s behaviour of skipping meals.

How Can You Make Your Dog Eat Again?

The first thing you need to identify is the reason behind your canine’s not eating his food. If you know the reason, then you have a chance of overcoming the issue. For instance, if he is suffering from any underlying health issue or due to medicine, not feel like eating anything. In such cases, vets will guide you like they can advise you to try a healthy liquid diet so that he can at least get some nutrients in his body.

dog eating food
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If your dog is not happy with the food or gets bored with eating the same one. In such a scenario, try feeding him a variety of food till he agrees to stick to one. Till then do not force him to eat, it can lead to vomiting issues, and can also spoil his mood.

Another way you can attract your canine to eat again is by offering him tempting treats, and flavours, such as peanut butter, chicken broth, canned pumpkin, chicken with rice, etc. Or even tasty kibbles will also do, so at least he starts eating something.

When to Contact the Vet?

Most dogs can go without food for 3-4 days, but it’s best to consult the vet if your dog hasn’t eaten for more than 48 hours. Your canine might show up several symptoms also, which indicate a sign of illness, or an underlying health issue.

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting Sensation
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Loss in weight
  • Wheezing

If you notice any such symptoms with a lack of eating, it is recommended to immediately take him to the vet for better treatment and to avoid further health complications.


How long can a puppy go without food?

In the case of puppies, they need food for the development of their body. They cannot go without food for more than 12 hours. This is because puppies don’t have fat reserves like adult dogs, so they require food on time to fill their tummy, which helps in the development of the body.

What happens if a dog doesn’t eat for 2 days?

As per the survey, most of the dogs can go two-three days without food. But, veterinarians advise pet parents not to wait too long. If their canine is not eating, take him to the clinic to avoid further health consequences. Dogs can stay without water, and it won’t affect their health much, but without food is a bit of a complication for their health.

What can I do if my dog not eating but drinking water?

Dogs are also picky eaters, sometimes they just don’t like eating anything, and they skip their meals. If your canine is just drinking water, then he might not be hungry and only want to hydrate his body. However, monitor him closely and notice if is there any change in appetite, if he continues to stay on a liquid diet, then consult the vet for better guidance.

Is it OK to force-feed a dog?

Well, it solely depends upon the situation. For the past 2 days, if your canine has not eaten anything, you can use a syringe to feed him food. But, this is only suggested if the vet allows it after examining his health and determines that force-feeding won’t harm your pup, and it’s safe.

How long can a dog go without eating before he dies?

Dogs can go off without food for around two-three days. Without water, they can survive for three days. In most of the dog’s cases, it has been noticed that they can skip their meals for seven days also.


  1. Wu, M. F., John, J., Maidment, N., Lam, H. A., & Siegel, J. M. (2002). Hypocretin release in normal and narcoleptic dogs after food and sleep deprivation, eating, and movement. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology283(5), R1079-R1086.
  2. Hunthausen, W. (2009). Preventive behavioural medicine for dogs. In BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine (pp. 65-74). BSAVA Library.
  3. Why Is My Dog Not Eating? (2022, August 11). Retrieved October 22, 2022, from PetMD
  4. Times, E. (2020, November 3). Safely Feed Your Pup If You’ve Run Out Of Dog Food. Escalon Times. Retrieved October 22, 2022, from Escalon Times
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Tilly Walker
Tilly Walker is an avid animal lover and dog owner for several years. She owns a mix breed Cockapoo named Rio. She, along with her group of friends who wanted to help others learn more about the proper ways to take care of their pets, founded this website.

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