Understanding How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food And Water


Dogs may sometimes lose their appetite and start refusing to eat. This is frustrating for many dog owners, who might not know the amount of time their four-legged friends can live without eating.

A healthy canine might survive for around three to five days without eating without experiencing any dangerous effects. However, fasting for an extended period might be a result of an underlying issue. A pooch with no access to water and food will often die from dehydration, rather than starvation.

Dogs require food to help keep their metabolism up. Food provides the energy the body needs to remain warm and to keep various organs functioning properly. The body system stores some of the energy and uses it in between meals. However, the lack of food for a prolonged period of time could have serious health risks, including fatal consequences.

If your dog lost appetite, it is essential to determine why, so you can take the necessary steps to deal with any underlying issue.

Dogs might lose interest in their meals due to a change in environment, emotional distress, an allergic reaction to medications, or nausea. Internal factors, pain, and dental issues may also make your pet lose interest in their meals. 

Chances are your pet is just picky or simply doesn’t like the food that you’re giving them. However, it’s crucial to establish that this is actually the case with a professional veterinary before ruling out any other explanation of the behavior.

Understanding a Dog’s Metabolism Rate

Understanding a puppy’s metabolic process can help show you why proper nutrition for canines is important for their overall well-being.

Like us humans, animals too have distinct metabolic rates, and their energy requirements will vary from one pet to another. Nonetheless, puppies will consume at least one complete meal per day.

In other words, some pups may go an entire day without their regular meals, but eat something during the day. Most healthy dogs cannot survive another day without eating. A dog needs a combination of dry and wet foods each day to receive all the essential nutrient components.

Metabolism refers to the process of turning food into useful energy. The process involves the digestive system, the muscles, the nervous system, and the endocrine system. Even when you’re sleeping, your system requires energy to pump blood, breathe, and digest.

The calories required to ensure the proper functioning of these background systems is known as the basal metabolic rate. With various physical activities, food intake increases considerably. A canine’s metabolic process functions in the same manner.

What Causes The Lack Of Food Consumption? How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

Limiting the caloric intake is crucial, but it’s best to contact your doctor to ensure a safe, gradual change. When a dog’s body system senses that it’s starving, it switches to starvation mode. This allows it to preserve energy by reducing the metabolic rate and converting muscle tissue into energy. That is the opposite of healthy weight control for dogs.

It is strongly recommended to work with your doctor to determine the right amount of calories your dog needs each day to maintain their metabolic process and enable them to lose body weight in a healthy way.

Apart from the problems that come with starvation mode, you already know how hungry pups can beg, search around the house for food and drive you bonkers. Therefore, proper nutrition along with physical activity is vital to maintaining a healthy metabolic process in your pooch.

So, let’s find out how long can a dog stop eating or drinking below:

Is Your Pet Feeling Discomfort? How Long Can Dogs Go Without Food?

How Long Can Dog Go Without Food?

All pets are unique in more ways than one. That’s why it’s difficult to give a general answer to the question of how long can a dog survive without food. Still, professional vets usually treat food refusal (anorexia) and poor appetite (inappetence) depending on the case.

So, how long can a dog live without food? Most dogs that are not ill will survive for around three to five days without eating.

That said, dogs that are sick, underweight, too young, or too old might not survive without eating and will need medical attention sooner than that. Similarly, pregnant or nursing dogs will have to eat sooner than pups in optimal health.

Here some possible reasons your pooch refuses to eat:

Pet Care: Types Of Things To Do When He Stops Eating Dog Food & What It Means


When Your Dog Is Sick

One of the most common reasons why my dogs may refuse to eat is when they are suffering from certain medical or health issues. Different conditions may result in meal refusal, including but not limited to the following:

  • Upset stomach
  • Bacterial, fungal or viral infection
  • Dental problems
  • Pain
  • Allergies
  • Parasites
  • Internal obstructions
  • Organ failure
  • Cancer

It is important to contact your vet to ensure your pooch has not lost appetite due to any of these problems, and if so, your vet will also help address the problem. However, you should not panic since many canines refuse to eat for various other reasons, as discussed below.

When Your Dog Is Diagnosed With Parvo

Most pups with Parvo [1] are at risk of premature death if not treated immediately. Most professional veterinarians agree that such pups should not be forced to eat. However, the main cause of concern is dehydration. Forcing your pooch to eat might lead to further illnesses.

Another common risk among small dogs is hypoglycemia. Generally speaking, if he has not eaten for one or two days, take your dog for a check-up.

When Your Dog Has Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a common, discomfort-causing, and potentially fatal ailment of the digestive tract that affects many cats and dogs. Fatty foods are believed to cause pancreatitis in dogs.

Treatment involves allowing time for the organ to heal. Nothing should be given to the dog for approximately 24 hours. The affected pup should also drink a limited amount of water. To help the pooch survive, fluids should be administered intravenously.

Avoid giving them any treatments on your own. Your veterinary service provider should make suggestions and provide the best prescription kibble to ensure your pet’s condition improves.

After Your Dog Had a Surgery

How long can a dog go without eating after surgery? Well, nausea is a common side-effect that occurs after surgery. Your dog may not eat anything until these diseases disappear. Always medical intervention. It’s possible for a dog to stop eating for 3 to 5 days, but he is weaker after the operation so work in consultation with your vet.

Consider Bringing Them For Vet Visit Next Time Their Diet Or Meal Routine Changes Significantly

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Water?

No matter why you’re wondering ‘how long can dogs go without water’, you should note that a healthy dog may do without water for up to three days. The duration could be less than three days if your dog has a certain illness or is very old or very young.

So, if your furry friend doesn’t drink water within a day, take him to your vet as soon as possible. Wet food contains water, so this might prolong the period a bit. However, hot weather can reduce hydration levels and shorten the time frame.

Before Your Dog Dehydrates

Similarly, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long a dog can go without water. The answer will vary depending on numerous things, including their age, size, temperature, and how much you’re exercising your dog.

A pooch can last a maximum of four days without taking any drink, but he will be in bad shape by this time, and immediate medical attention is necessary. That’s why you should not leave your dog with no clean water. Always fill their water bowl with clean, drinking water.


Some of the signs that show a dog is dehydrated include loss of appetite, lethargy, dry gums and nose, panting, sunken eyes, and poor skin elasticity.

Your veterinarian will most likely administer a prescription medication known as Lactated Ringer’s Solution for severe cases.

If the pooch is dehydrated but wants to drink, owners should give them water or Pedialyte (diluted 50/50 with water). Beef or chicken broth can also help rehydrate your pet and provide the necessary electrolytes.

Age Could Be A Factor For Conditions Like Slower Digestive Processes

When Your Dog Is Sick

When a dog is ill, he might not be willing to eat or drink anything. That’s fine for some time, but it might be a concern if a dog has diarrhea or is vomiting.

The amount of time a sick dog can survive with no water will depend on a number of things, including the cause of the illness. If you notice any changes in his behaviors, be sure to contact your vet immediately.

If there is also diarrhea, it will probably need some sort of liquids within 16 to 20 hours. If they are just not drinking, the dog will probably go about 20 hours before you need to take the dog to the emergency vet.

If the pooch is vomiting, make sure to keep him indoors for around 6 to 8 hours to prevent him from ingesting leaves or grass. Give him two tablespoons of fresh, drinking water for some time.

You may also give him omeprazole or famotidine to calm his stomach. If the symptoms persist, call your vet immediately.

After Your Dog Had A Surgery

If your dog stops eating after an operation, it may be because he feels nauseated. Just continue giving him fresh water as that might improve over time. If the pooch doesn’t drink water within 24 hours, call your veterinarian.


What You Should Do If Your Dog Suddenly Stops Eating

Considering that reduced appetite affects individual dogs differently, it is using your due diligence when determining the steps to take for your fasting pup.

Here’s what you need to do if your dog suddenly stops eating:

  1. Avoid panicking: Keep in mind that dogs usually stop for a short period without experiencing any severe side effects. If your dog seems to be fine, fasting for one or two days isn’t a big deal.
  2. Determine the reason why your dog won’t eat. If you find out the reason your beloved pooch is refusing to eat, then you should take the necessary measures to restore their appetite.
  3. Lure them with their favorite treats: you should determine if your dog is simply being a picky eater by giving them their favorite treats. If he quickly eats them up, then pickiness is a cause of the problem.
  4. Don’t let your dog go without eating for an extended period. Make sure to seek help if your pup doesn’t eat within 48 hours.

Circumstances Like Sickness, Stress & Depression Phase Could Also Lead To Lack Of Food Temptation

What You Can Do When You Can’t Feed Your Dog for a Few Days

If you plan to be away from home for a few days, it’s strongly recommended to seek the services of a professional dog sitter or take your pooch to a boarding facility to ensure he can get his regular meals and access to fresh water.

If there’s no dog food available or you simply can’t afford it for some time, you can provide alternatives like cooking chicken breast and serving it to them with rice. Other substitutes include canned meats, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs.

Once the situation is back to normal, you can introduce dog food meant for sensitive stomachs gradually to help prevent stomach upset.

Fix Hunger. Feed Them With Cheap Alternatives for Temporary Poor Home Conditions Phase


Frequently Asked Questions

Can a dog die from not eating?

Yes, a dog can die from not eating, just like humans. While they can go for a number of days without food, they might show signs of illness, you should contact your vet if your pup doesn’t eat for 24 hours or more.

What happens if a dog doesn’t eat for a day?

If a dog doesn’t eat for a day, there is nothing really to worry about. Provided your dog doesn’t have diarrhea or isn’t vomiting and simply doesn’t want to eat; it is not a huge problem. But if he doesn’t eat for longer than that, you should take the dog to the vet.

How to encourage a dog to eat?

You can encourage a dog to eat by following these tips:

  1. Give him canned food, as most dogs find it appetizing.
  2. Give him easily digestible food in small quantities.
  3. Use a syringe to administer food directly to his mouth.
  4. Add flavorful herbs and spices to his food to help restore their appetite.
  5. Prepare homemade food for your dog
  6. Give them pet-approved food, especially if he is suffering from a given medical condition.
  7. Use lots of food-dispensing puzzle toys to stimulate them mentally while filling their tummy.
  8. Add healthy treats to your dog’s regular meals.


At some point, you may notice that your pet is not interested in the food you’re offering. A dog not eating or drinking could be a sign of an underlying problem. Do yourself and your pet a favor by talking to your veterinary officer about your dog’s diet and eating habits.

You’ll be glad to help your dog early enough. Even if your pet does not show any signs or symptoms of a serious health problem, it is important to notify your veterinarian.