how long can a dog survive without food?

How Long Can a Dog Survive Without Food?

There are some instances where a dog will stop eating. Most of the time this is a sign that a dog is sick or has a medical condition, and anxiety can also cause a dog to temporarily refuse food as well. However, in some cases, dogs may stop eating simply because they do not like their dog food.

In most cases, healthy adult dogs can go for up to five days without food relatively safely. However, after this point, their health will likely deteriorate quickly. It is also important to note that this five day mark does not apply to a dog drinking water. This is because dogs can easily become very dehydrated even just after one day of not drinking water.

This number also does not apply to senior dogs, young puppies, and dogs with health issues because they typically need to eat more often in order to maintain their health.

In this article, we will be exploring this question. We will also be explaining what can cause a dog to not eat food and what dog owners can do to get their dog eating Alright, let’s get into it.

We Think You’ll Like: Best Cheap Dog Food

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?
Photo by Alex Gruber on Unsplash

The exact amount of time that a dog can go without eating is entirely subjective, and it differs depending on the dog. This is because things like age, weight, and overall health can change how long a dog can survive without food drastically.

For example, a young puppy will not last very long without drinking milk or formula, and sick or elderly dogs will likely need a steady stream of food intake to keep them healthy.

The dogs that can go without eating the longest are healthy dogs that are in their young adult years and are a healthy weight. It has been estimated that the dogs that meet all of these criteria could technically survive without food for about three to five days without any serious negative effects. However, the dog would need to remain hydrated throughout that time.

Top Three Reasons Why Your Dog Is Not Eating

Top Three Reasons Why Your Dog Is Not Eating
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

It is actually not unheard of for dogs to refuse food. In fact, this is a fairly common sign that a dog is anxious or experiencing a medical problem. In addition to this, some dogs are known to just be picky eater as well. Here are the three reasons why your dog is not eating food.

Your Dog Is Anxious Or Stressed

Your Dog Is Anxious Or Stressed
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

It is actually pretty common for dogs to have a dramatically reduced appetite when they are feeling anxious or stressed. This will not only lead dogs to refuse their meals, but this is often also extended to treats and even human food.

Normally this stress just lasts for a short period of time. However, in some more extreme cases, dogs will refuse food for an extended amount of time as a result of chronic stress or anxiety. Extreme changes in a dog’s environment can cause this such as moving, a new family member, or dramatic changes to their routine.

If you suspect that your dog is refusing food as a result of stress or anxiety then it is a good idea to take them to the vet. This way the vet can rule out a medical problem and provide you with treatment options for your dog’s anxiety.

Your Dog Does Not Like The Food You Have Given Them

Let’s face it, some dogs are just picky eaters. Although this can still be pretty bothersome to their owners, dogs that are refusing food simply because they do not like the food in front of them is not as big of a problem as you may think.

The best way to get a dog to eat in this case is by trying out different foods for them. This could be dry food, canned food, or a mixture of both. Of course, it is still important to make sure that these meals are still nutritious and not too calorically dense.

Your Dog Is Not Feeling Well

Your Dog Is Not Feeling Well
Photo by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash

There are many instances where sick dogs will refuse to eat, and this is sometimes one of the first signs that people notice when their dog has a medical condition. Although this does include dogs with a sensitive stomach, other types of conditions can cause a decreased appetite as well.

Some other illnesses that can cause a dog to stop eating besides an upset stomach include but are not limited to:

  • Gingivitis and dental problems
  • Food Allergies
  • Injuries
  • Neck and Back Pain
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid Issues
  • Severe digestion problems
  • Blockages in the GI tract

Oftentimes these conditions occur with other symptoms along with a noticeable decreased appetite. If you suspect that your dog has a decreased appetite as a result of an illness then it is recommended that you take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Will Dogs Starve Themselves To Death?

No, healthy dogs will not starve themselves to death. This is because dogs are very instinctual animals, and they will eventually eat food when they are hungry. Unfortunately, some picky dogs may need some convincing to eat. However, no healthy dog will let themselves starve if there is food around.

How Often Should You Feed A Healthy Dog Food?

How Often Should You Feed A Healthy Dog Food?
Photo by Kabo on Unsplash

Generally speaking, it is best to feed adult dogs twice a day. This is because feeding your dog two smaller meals as opposed to one large one can help to prevent medical conditions like bloat. In addition to this, feeding your dog two meals a day can help to prevent them from feeling hungry throughout the day.

It is important to note that puppies usually need to eat three times a day, and some other dogs will need to eat more often as well due to medical issues. For example, dogs with a feeding tube may need smaller portions of food fed to them throughout the day.

It is recommended that you feed your dog the recommended serving size for their age, weight, and breed. In addition to this, some more active dogs may require more food as well.

You can look up the recommended amount of food that your dog should be eating a day easily on the internet. Many dog food brands will also include some recommended serving sizes on the back of their packages of dry and wet food products.

We Think You’ll Like: Best Large Breed Dog Food

Will Healthy Dogs Refuse to Eat?

Will Healthy Dogs Refuse to Eat?
Photo by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash

Occasionally healthy dogs may refuse to eat. Most of the time this occurs because the dog is picky when eating food or is feeling anxious or stressed. Although healthy dogs refusing to eat can be troublesome to pet owners, refusing the occasional meal should not worry you too much.

What Should A Dog Owner Do If Their Dog Doesn’t Eat?

What Should A Dog Owner Do If Their Dog Doesn't Eat?
Photo by M Burke on Unsplash

There are several things that dog owners could do if their dog isn’t eating their dog food. The first thing that you can do is switch up their dog food. This is because sometimes dogs will not eat simply because they do not like their food.

If this is the case then there are several things that you can do to make their meals more appetizing. The first option is to hydrate their food with things like bone broth or mix in some canned food to make their meals smell and taste better. You could also try to change their food altogether. In most healthy dogs that are just a bit picky, doing this will usually increase their food intake.

For the dogs who will not take treats, or canned food, and do not appear to have an upset stomach then it is likely that they are experiencing chronic anxiety or stress. In these cases reducing their stress whenever possible will usually help them eat enough food. However, in extreme cases, a trip to the vet may be necessary as well.

As we have just mentioned, there are some instances where you should go to the vet if your dog stops eating. These instances are in the cases of a sick dog or dogs with severe anxiety. Going to the vet will allow you to get your dog treatment and resolve their decreased appetite as they start to feel better.

What Other Things Can Cause A Dog to Refusing Food?

In some more rare instances, other things can cause a dog to stop eating as well. Things like hot weather and being distracted by things like other dogs can easily cause most healthy dogs to stop eating for a short period of time.

What Happens If A Dog Doesn’t Eat For Three Days?

If an adult dog does not eat for three days then you will likely not notice much difference in them. However, this may not be the case for puppies, elderly dogs, and sick dogs. This is because in these cases the dog will likely need food more often in order to be as healthy as possible.

Can A Dog Go 15 Hours Without Food?

Yes, most dogs can go 15 hours without food. In fact, this actually occurs more often than you may think, even for sick dogs. However, it is recommended that dogs do not go 15 hours without drinking water as this could easily cause dehydration.


Healthy adult dogs can survive without food for an estimated three to five days without food before they experience negative effects from it. However, it is recommended that dogs be fed at least once a day whenever possible. If your dog has not been eating for more than 24 hours then you should take them to the vet, especially if you believe that you may have a sick dog on your hands.

Similar Posts