Skip to main content

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?

Laura Day

July 13, 2019

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating

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

Well, first things first, don’t worry too much! Dogs can survive for a while without food. In the meantime, you have a lot of reading up to do on why they may not be eating and what you can do to help your perfect petregain their appetite in no time.

How long can a healthy dog go without eating?

Most healthy dogs can go up to five days without food, though that number is only true if your pet is still drinking plenty of water. Some can even go up to seven days without, though you should never let things get that far without taking your dog to the vet.

How long can an unhealthy dog go without eating?

If your doggo is not in the best of health, he will likely be worse for the wear after going five days without eating. The most yours may be able to survive without food is three days, less without water.

Why won’t my dog eat?

Dog Go Without EatingThis is probably your most pressing question. The answer is not simple; there are several reasons why your dog isn’t eating anymore. Some require just a simple vet visit and others may require a more lengthy healing process. Learn about a few of these reasons below.

Medical Conditions

The list of medical conditions in which a dog may lose his appetite is lengthy. Some of the most common, though, are these:

  • Upset stomach
  • Infection
  • Allergies
  • Pain due to wounds or arthritis (Arthritis is more common in senior and adult dogs)
  • Gingivitis or other dental issues
  • Parasites
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Serious conditions like cancer, diabetes, organ failure, etc. These require the most urgent care as soon as possible.

If you know that your puppy pal is suffering from any of these illnesses, know that his lack of appetite may be caused by them.

Mental Conditions

A couple of mental conditions that occur in dogs can definitely cause his loss of appetite. These are depression and anxiety. Curiously enough, the same symptoms occurs in humans suffering from these illnesses as well. Let’s talk about the signs of depression and anxiety in your dog and how they can best be treated.


A depressed dogs may exhibit any or all of these symptoms:

  • Dogs with depression are not as playful or generally as active as other dogs.
  • Their sleeping schedule may change. This could mean that your pup sleeps all day and night, only sleeps in the day, or just does not get enough sleep at all. This can cause irritability over time.
  • Indifference to things they once enjoyed. Is Fido not going for the treats he so desperately loved before? Has his new chew toy been left untouched? If so, then he may have depression.

It is important to note that these symptoms occur in other medical conditions as well. The best course of action is to go to the vet and have all other things ruled out first. They will probably then ask you questions about how your home life has changed, how often you are with your pup, etc. If your dog is diagnosed with depression, the doc will recommend certain medications or a new treatment regimen to help him come through. Talking to your vet about your dog’s diet and eating habits is always a great place to start.


Barking Dog

Anxious dogs tend to be a little more volatile, and their behaviors will let you know it. These include:

  • Aggression
  • Trembling
  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Hiding
  • Tucking his tail between his legs
  • Trying to run away constantly
  • Inability to go outside without panicking
  • Aversion to being touched

These are all pretty classic signs that your dog is anxious along with a suppressed appetite. When this occurs, you will go to your veterinarian and look for the best course of treatment. They can either give you medication or more tips on keeping your pup calm in the future. These may include:

  • Spending more time with your dog. The most common form of anxiety dogs develop comes from being separated from their owner(s) for too long. This happens especially frequently if you work or travel a lot.
  • Giving them some space away from loud noises and other people. You should dedicate a space of your home for your pup to go when he feels too afraid of the world around him. Dim the lights a little, give him a spacious crate to lie in, and make it quiet.
  • More socialization. Your dog may be so scared because he was never properly introduced to the world around him. If you do not start the socialization process early, it becomes more difficult for your dog to get along with other people and animals later on.

He’s Picky

Cats have a reputation for being picky eaters, but dogs can be finicky about their food, too. When this happens, all you can do is try different foods until he decides that he likes one and then you stick with it. This requires a lot of patience because you could be going through a lot of money trying to find a diet that he can work with. However, be diligent and you will come out victorious!

What You Can Do

No matter what is causing your dog to turn his nose up at his food, you have to take him to the vet to get to the root of the problem and get him hungry again. Only a professional can officially diagnose the issue and make your pup healthy again!

In the end, all you have to do is take the advice of a doctor and follow through. If your dog needs medication to stoke the fires of his hunger again, administer them. If he simply needs more time with you to be okay, give him a little TLC. Remember–your dog needs you just as much as he needs food.