How Long Can Dogs Go Without Food?
How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating Food?
Has your dog ever stopped eating for some reason and caused you concern? Have you worried about how long dogs can go without food?
There are a multitude of factors which will affect how long a dog could survive without food, which makes the answer to this question variable.
Some dogs may only be able to survive a short time such as a few days, whereas others may survive for upto 10 days without eating, so long as he is drinking. On average, it it said to be around 3-5 days.
That being said, it is imperative that you seek medical attention from the vet if you notice your dog is not eating or drinking.
What are the reasons a dog would stop eating?
There are a number of reasons your dog might lose his appetite. In this article we’re writing on the assumption that your pup has stopped eating, rather than for example, your pup is lost and therefore without food.
- Medical Problems
Many illnesses cause a reduced appetite. Some of the more notable problems include:
- Dental – cavities, broken or loose teeth, tumours, gum disease
- Gastrointestinal – stomach upset, parasites, obstruction
- Organ failure such as kidney, liver
The side effects of some medications may reduce appetite in dogs, they may also make him feel sick. Contact your vet if this side effect is continuous.
- Mental and behavioural Issues
Mental problems such as depression or anxiety can cause a dog to stop eating
Behavioural issues such as being a fussy eater, moving home – a new environment, a new baby, or intimidation from another dog at mealtimes, can all have an impact.
- Change of Food
Changing your dog’s diet may cause him to stop eating. This is why changing your dog’s food gradually is important, not only to avoid any stomach upset, but to allow them to slowly build up to a new taste experience!
How Long Can a Dog Survive Without Food?
How long your dog can survive without food will depend on his underlying health and other factors.
These factors include:
- Pregnancy & lactation status
- Pre-existing illnesses
- Hydration status
Younger and more senior dogs will not survive as long as a fit, middle aged dog. Bitches who are pregnant or lactating have higher calorie requirements and therefore would also need food sooner.
Dogs with underlying medical problems are likely to need earlier intervention, and dogs who are not drinking will also run into trouble earlier.
What do I do if my Dog Stops Eating?
- If your dog suddenly stops eating but otherwise appeared to be perfectly fine and healthy, you may be able to give him a little time such as 24-48hours, before approaching the vet. If he is drinking and appears happy, that is.
- Consider reasons why your dog may have stopped eating. Have you been travelling or moved house, changed his food, or is he showing any signs of being unwell?
- Can he be tempted with a tasty treat? A nice piece of fresh meat or a tasty chew? If he will take treats, perhaps the causes of his food refusal can be narrowed down to a specific food related issue, rather than a medical reason.
- If your dog appears unwell, or he’s very young, old or has an underlying medical condition, it is wise to seek advice immediately.
If your dog stops drinking water too, it is important to seek help early, as dogs cannot survive for more than 2-3 days without water.
Take home messages
Fit and healthy dogs can survive without food for a considerable time, however there are various factors which can influence how long a dog can survive without food.
The causes of a sudden food refusal are varied, and thought should be given to both physical illness and mental and behavioural issues.
If your dog stops eating, provided he is an otherwise fit adult pooch, it may be OK to wait a day or two to see if he will start eating again, but contact a vet within 48 hours if it continues, or immediately if your dog is ill or more vulnerable.