How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?

Whether you just adopted your first newborn puppy or already had a years-worth of the canine family, it can be pretty stressful when your dogs refuse to eat. Questions such as “why my dog doesn’t want to eat?”, “how to make them eat?”, or “how long can a dog go without eating?” are the most commonly found ones.

While it can be discouraging, when it comes to your dog, never act in panic or rush. There are many reasons for their lack of appetite, and it should be solved accordingly. To help you, here’s an in-depth insight into why your dogs don’t want to eat and how to resolve it.

Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Eat

According to FETCH by WebMD, loss of appetite in dogs is diagnosed as anorexia. Anorexia in dogs is different from anorexia nervosa, which belongs to humans eating disorders. VCA Hospitals noted that there are two types of anorexia in dogs: true anorexia and pseudo-anorexia.

Pseudo-anorexia happens when your dog is hungry but unable to eat—chew, swallow, and digest—due to obstructions such as cancer, problems in the nervous system, or gum inflammation.

Regardless of which kind of anorexia your dogs have, it should always be treated seriously. Continuous loss of appetite may lead to diseases or even death.

To further indicating the basis behind dogs’ loss of appetite, we’ve compiled several possibilities as your guide:

  • Illness

Medical conditions or illnesses play a great role in decreasing your dog’s appetite. Usually, your dog will show other symptoms that indicate a specific disease. While the loss of appetite doesn’t always determine an illness’s severity, it could be a significant sign of austere diseases such as cancer, liver problem, and kidney failure. By then, professional vet assistance is necessary to ensure their lives.

Aside from the diseases mentioned, these followings are common illnesses that are signaled by a loss of appetite:

  1. Allergy
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Parasite
  4. Autoimmune disease
  • Anxiety

Do you know that dogs, and animals in general, can also experience mental illnesses? Dogs with anxiety problems are usually more volatile and rash in action. For instance, they will howl when you leave the house—which may stem from separation anxiety, running around frantically without reasons, and shivering. They may pick up a habit to cower in the corner of a room as well.

Due to this condition, your dog may experience a suppressed appetite. However, do not worry. You can consult this with your veterinarian and ask for medication.

  • Dental Problems

Same as us humans, dental problems can inflict pain that suppresses dogs’ appetite. Whether it’s a lost or broken tooth, gum inflammation, or even an oral tumor, be sure to have them checked by a professional veterinarian before it’s too late.

  • Unfamiliar Environment

If you bring your dogs during travel, there’s a big chance that their loss of appetite is caused by unfamiliar surroundings. Dogs, usually younger ones, can also experience motion sickness, which is signaled by vomiting, yawning, or excessive drooling. You can minimize the risk by installing a dog seatbelt or making them face the window instead of the front.

  • Pickiness

Apparently, dogs can be extremely picky with their foods. Some dogs lose appetite if they’re being fed in uncomfortable situations such as around aggressive packs, in new places, or even when you use a new food bowl. However, don’t always assume your dog’s loss of appetite is due to pickiness as it will make you overlook possible diseases.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating
Dog Go Without Eating

How long can a dog go without eating? The answer ranges based on the condition of your dog. A healthy dog with prime psychologic functions can last for about three to five days without food. However, do not wait until it’s too late. If your canine friend doesn’t show any sign of hunger for about two days, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.

A different timestamp might apply for unhealthy dogs or dogs with preexisting health issues. The degree of dog’s activeness and the weather condition is also a definitive factor in determining how long can a dog go without eating.

What About Water?

Generally, healthy dogs can last for about four days without drinking. However, factors such as their daily activity and weather play a great role in decreasing the timestamp.

The rule of thumb is: if your dog doesn’t show any improvement in two days, it’s better to directly bring them to a vet. Waiting doesn’t resolve anything and might only make your dog’s condition unsalvageable.

“My Dogs Seem Fine Although They Stop Eating”

What should you do if your dog doesn’t want to eat but act normally? According to American Kennel Club, first and foremost, you should check on whether they still drink water or not. If yes, then you can wait for a day or two until they feel hungry again. This sudden loss of appetite may be caused by the change of weather, environment, or habit.

However, if it continues over two days or they start vomiting, coughing, or having diarrhea, it’s best to directly take the matter into a veterinarian.

Fasting for Dogs

Now that we’ve answered “how long can a dog go without eating?”, is fasting good for dogs as it is to humans?

DogFirst noted that fasting is, indeed, good for dogs, although to a measurable extent. Fasting helps to boost metabolism by optimizing repair, toxin depletion, and regeneration in the absence of eating. It also helps in fighting infection and inflammatory by letting the body rearrange energy distribution and putting extra barriers in your canine’s immune system.

How to Increase Dogs Appetite

While it’s important to know how long can a dog go without eating, it’s essential to rouse their appetite again after a long term of loss. There are many ways to get their hunger back depending on what you and your veterinarian decided on.

If the loss of appetite is caused by illnesses, then your veterinarian might prescribe you medicine and a diet plan. However, if it’s caused by pickiness, anxiety, or other behavioral problem, here are some tips to get their digestive system back on track:

  • Making their mealtime memorable. For instance, you can simultaneously play with them or give them a treat once they finished their bowl.
  • Cutting treats to regularize their hunger.
  • Giving them highly nutritious food.
  • Taking a walk before mealtime to make them feel hungry.

Can You Force Feed Your Dog?

Force-feeding might be essential if your canine is extremely picky or sick. You may force-feed them using either syringe or rouse their appetite by smearing the mashed food in their lips. If you use a syringe, make sure only to feed them in small amounts to avoid choking hazards.

It is important to note that while force-feeding can be done by every dog owner, it’s best to do it with a veterinarian nearby.


Generally, how long can a dog go without eating depends on their condition? A healthy dog can last for around three to five days without food and four without water. However, it needs to be noted that if their condition isn’t getting better on the second day, it’s best to take them straight to the veterinarian.

Furthermore, rousing your canine’s appetite can be done through individual feeding or veterinarian prescription. Nevertheless, make sure to completely understand the reason for their loss of appetite before giving them medication as it can lead to maltreatment.

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