How Long Can Your Dog Survive Without Food?

It is totally alarming if your dog won’t eat. As an owner, it is your responsibility that your dog is always enriched in nutrients and minerals, but what if suddenly your dog won’t eat? When can you say that it is still normal that there is no food intake?

In this article, we’ll learn more information about how long can a dog survive without food intake and what are the possible reasons why dogs sometimes suddenly won’t eat.

How Long Can Your Dog Survive Without Eating?

The number of days a dog survives without food depends on different factors such as the dog’s weight, height, age, mental health, physical health, hydration level, and the last meal that they ate.

On average, a dog that is matured and healthy can survive without food for about 3-5 days, but for a puppy or dog that has low immunity can only survive a short span of time. When you delayed their feeding schedule, expect that they will eat more than usual.

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Eat

Even if you feed your dog with their usual meal at the right feeding schedule, it can’t be avoided that there are some circumstances that your dog would suddenly won’t eat. These are some of the reasons:


If your dog is stressed out, it can greatly affect its appetite for food, or it may have some digestive problems. There are a couple of reasons why your birds can be stressed such as a new environment; they see a stranger that they perceive as a threat, unusually loud noises from fireworks or storeman, and a comfortable environment where they can rest.

When your dog is nervous from different kinds of stimuli, there are higher chances that it will become stressed which leads to loss of appetite. If you know your pet very well, you would know if they feel uneasy with what’s happening around them, that is why it is your obligation to make their surroundings favorable.

Your Dog Is Sick

When your dog refuses to eat within 24 hours, and you notice that it is still energetic in playing and barking, there is nothing to worry about. However, if their loss of appetite is accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting, be alarmed because there is a possibility that your dog is sick.

golden retriever dog eating on his food bowl

In most cases where your dog has vomited and is suffering from diarrhea, you may need to take it to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Behavioral Problem

When the reason why your dog refuses to eat is based on how they behave, it might be a challenge to change the perception of your dog unless you would learn the trick on how to possibly change their eating behavior. These are some of the behavioral problems that trigger the dog’s urge not to eat.

Some dog species would not eat if their food bowls were dirty if you offered them a new food that they are not satisfied with if they are interested in playing with a thing that they are curious about, and if they are just seeking your attention.

There Is Something Wrong With The Food

The choice of food plays an important role in whether your dog will be a voracious eater. If you are feeding them the same food but you notice that suddenly they don’t want to eat it, inspect it. There is a possibility that the quality of the food served is not in good condition; it could be spoiled, especially if it is a home diet.

For commercial diets, there is a possibility that it has something to do with its texture. Try to give them other kinds of food if you notice that it is the food that affected their appetite. There is also a tendency that your dog is just a picky eater, especially when you have given them a treat before their actual meal.

What Will Happen If Your Dog Won’t Eat For Days?

If your dog has not eaten for days, it causes several problems such as weight loss, malnutrition, reduced alertness, increased aggression, lethargy, and worst it could die. If you have not fed your dog for just a day, there is a tendency that they will become more receptive to anything that you will command in return for a treat or food.

If you have not fed the dog for more than two days, except that it will have a rapid weight loss and malnutrition that is accompanied by different behavioral problems. 24 hours without food is just fine; your dog has stored energy still. The problem arises when it already reaches 48 hours without nutrients and food intake.

Final Thoughts

As a responsible pet owner, it is your responsibility to keep them healthy and active. Don’t let the hungry, but if your dog doesn’t eat, know when to act.

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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