Are you worried because your dog hasn’t eaten in a few days? or it isn’t even showing interest in food? Not to worry, you have probably identified the issue in time. A healthy dog can survive five days without eating, as long as it is drinking a reasonable amount of water.

But if your dog is showing no inclination to eat after a few days it means there is something wrong; you should take it to the Vet and get some help identifying the issue.

Why would a dog lose its appetite?

Unless it has refused food and water for 3 to 4 days, the biggest problem is not that it is refusing to eat, it is that there is an underlying issue causing a loss of appetite. To understand what the problem might be, you need to know how a dog’s digestive system works.

How much can a dog eat in one day?

Dogs are not unlike humans when it comes to having different metabolic rates, which means answering this question is not straightforward. Notwithstanding this fact, any healthy dog will want to eat a balanced meal once a day. Some dogs are on occasion, happy to grab a few treats throughout the day, but in the majority of cases, a healthy dog will not go two days without a substantial meal. To keep a dog healthy, it needs a mix of dry and wet foods to give it all the nutrients it needs.

How long can a dog go without food?

Once again, every dog is unique, and the length of time they can survive without eating will vary. But there are some key factors to consider that will heavily influence the length of a starvation period before it becomes dangerous to a dogs health:

  • The dog’s hydration level
  • Their mental and physical strength
  • The Age of the dog
  • When precisely the dog had its last meal

A healthy dog should be able to survive three to five days without food, regardless of the circumstances. This statistic is assumed to be true for even the unhealthy, the elderly and puppies. Age is a serious factor when it comes to sick dogs. Older dogs or younger puppies are less likely to last the entire period as a healthy dog should.

As I am sure you are aware, it is not healthy for your dog to refuse food, get the advice of your Vet immediately. It is linoleum that they have an underlying illness that needs the attention of a vet. If your dog is a little older, I am sorry to tell you that this may be a sign that they are preparing to die.

Common reasons why your dog is refusing to eat


Like its owner, when a dog is sick, it can lose its appetite as the disease affects its metabolism. But this is not to say you should ignore the problem. In some cases, it signifies a more serious issue. If a dog is refusing to eat for 24 hours, you should take it to the Vet. Check to see if it has a distended or swollen stomach, is it tender to touch. You should also not if their deworming is on schedule.

Issues with their teeth

Anytime a dog is suffering from a dental problem, it is perfectly normal for them not to want to eat, as it causes them pain and discomfort. Check the mouth for signs of dental issues.

Adapting to a new environment

Dogs are habitual animals when these habits are interrupted by long journeys or a change of home; it might take them some time to readjust. Expect them to get back to eating as usual once they have settled in. You can help them by recreating the routine they were used too in their old home.

Is your dog unsettled?

Bad behaviour can be a tricky one, it isn’t always easy to diagnose, but sometimes a lack of or reduced appetite is the result of a behavioural issue. Here are a few things to look out for, that might trigger a dog to stop eating.

  • Their bowl is dirty or smelly
  • They do not like the new menu, be careful before you suddenly change a dogs diet
  • Their dish is set too high, making it uncomfortable to eat
  • They may be dehydrated

How do you know your dog is in danger?

As much as we like to think we care for our pets daily, sometimes things slip through the loop. Suddenly you are faced with a dog that isn’t eating, and you are not entirely sure how long it has been. Here are the three phases a dog will enter when it is starving; each stage will affect its behavior and appearance as starvation progresses.

First phase

The first phase happens within 24 hours; you won’t see any noticeable change in the dog. Internally though it’s glycogen levels will begin to drop, and they are used to replace the nutrients it would typically get from food. Its blood sugar levels will remain at a healthy level.

Second Phase

Glycogen levels are now low, the dog’s body starts to target other sources of energy. The dog will begin to exhibit signs of being unstable and unhealthy as it has little energy to sustain life. If you see signs of this, take your dog to the Vet immediately.

Third Phase

Your dog will show clear and evident signs of starvation as its body begin to use all remaining fats sources to try to survive. The liver starts to release ketones. Unless the dog is given medical attention immediately, it will eventually die.

In conclusion

For a dog to remain healthy and proactive, it needs to eat a healthy and balanced diet. If you are worried about how long can a dog go without food,

the answer is that they need regular access to clean water and healthy foods. Anytime they go a long period without food or water, you run the risk of death or permanent damage to its organs. Regardless of your dog’s history, anytime it is not interested in food could indicate a more serious underlying issue. Do both of you a favor and seek professional advice for your veterinarian.