How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?

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Many dog owners are often worried when they hear the question – “how long can a dog go without eating?” The truth is that dogs, like humans, need food to provide fuel for their bodies. 

This is especially important if your dog is unhealthy or is an older dog that needs to stay healthy. However, in this article, I will discuss the following things:

  • How long can a dog go without eating?
  • How long does it take for a dog to be hungry Again?
  • 5 Reasons why won’t my dog eat?

Can a healthy dog go without food for a long time?


Can a healthy dog go without food for a long time?

Many people don’t understand that a healthy dog can experience hunger pains as humans do. When your dog feels hungry, they will show the same signs you would if you were desperate for food. 

They may start looking around and rushing towards the kitchen when they feel their stomach growl. If your dog has been having access to food all day, then it is suddenly left alone without food. 

As a result, they might start getting anxious and restless. 
Read More: Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Can healthy dogs starve themselves for days or weeks at a time? 

The answer to this question is yes. Eventually, many experiments show a dog can go without food for a long time.

An experiment in 1912 described one of their  Scotch Collie dog breeds that passed 117 days with no food. However, Scotch Collie dog’s name was “Oscar.” 

However, they also claimed the dog was in good spirits and healthy. These dog breeds are known for their strength and probably allowed him to fight hunger for more than four months.

A couple of other earlier experiments included dogs that lived for 60 days and 98 days without food. But, they gave drinking water to the dog.

An unhealthy dog can go without food for a Long Time?

Generally, healthy dogs can go without food for a long time. They survive, but it considerably affects their health. 

Unfortunately, if dogs do not get enough nutrients and protein in their diet, they will become very dull and weak. Even it will become deadly when they go longer without food.

An unhealthy dog can go without food for a Long Time

In short, an unhealthy dog’s health condition will decline after three days without food. On the other hand, a sick dog survives 5-7 days without food.

How Long Does It Take For a Dog to Be Hungry Again? 

For some dogs, it takes less than a day. But, on the other hand, some dogs will be hungry again after only a few hours. Usually, it depends on their daily schedule. 

Suppose some dogs are very playful and engage in regular exercise. Then they will feel hunger soon.
MORE: Can Dogs Eat Cheerios?

Perhaps, few dogs eat well and sleep the whole day. As a result, they will feel hunger late. These types of dogs are sluggish and get fatty soon.

However, for most dogs, it takes longer than that. In nature, a dog is never too old or too tired to be hungry again.

If you feed your dog once every two hours, she may be starving for as long as five hours. But, of course, the length of time varies from dog to dog and the type of food you give them. 

Why won’t my dog eat?

Why won't my dog eat

The answer may result from several factors. Dogs will often refuse food when they are not feeling well, or for reasons we can’t understand. 

Also, there is a possibility that your dog is suffering from a food allergy. It means they cannot eat any one particular type of food. 

Generally, this could happen if they ate something previously that prepared very poorly. Another factor that can play a role is boredom. 

If you have recently changed your schedule, your dog might feel neglected. As a result, they try to prove themselves by showing how better they are than before.

5 Main Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Eat

Why Your Dog Won't Eat
  • Health Condition
  • Behaviors
  • Depression
  • Mental Situation
  • Broken Heart

1. Health Condition

Dog won’t eat if their health condition is not well. When a dog refuses to eat, it is usually sick. Therefore, it is essential to check the dog’s health status when figuring out why he won’t eat.

Initially, a simple blood test can tell you whether or not your dog has any serious medical condition that prevents him from eating. Perhaps, your dog is not getting proper nutrition.

As a result, it will cause his body to create an array of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms can include Weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessness, inactivity, and sometimes, depression.

It is always advisable that a dog undergoes a complete physical examination by a veterinarian every six months. It will ensure the early detection of any medical problems causing your dog to lose appetite.

2. Anxiety

Several issues may contribute to a dog not eating or having a suppressed appetite. Anxiety is the most obvious, but other possible causes include pain, illness, fear, or boredom.

The signs of anxiety include trembling, scratching, urinating in the house, licking, biting, drooling, pacing, panting, scratching, pawing, or digging. When your dog becomes anxious, he will sometimes eat less and not get enough food. If your dog does not eat, he will lose weight.

Unfortunately, it may be more common than you think. So don’t ignore this symptom. All of us get nervous from time to time due to depression. 

But when you notice your dog is not acting like herself, it may indicate anxiety or depression.

3. Depression

signs of depression in dogs

Dog stops eating because of depression. A depressed dog may exhibit any or all of these symptoms. Vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, panting, and excessive thirst are other signs of depression in dogs

Dogs may also exhibit destructive behavior, which is abnormal for them.

For example, they may destroy their sleeping quarters, chew up furniture, attack people, etc. 

When a dog suffers one or more of these symptoms, he needs clinical treatment as “depressed.” But, this is not necessarily true. 

However, many other factors can cause an average dog to behave in a way that seems out of character for him.

Usually, it may be more common than you think. So don’t ignore this symptom. We can all get nervous from time to time. 

But when you notice your dog is not acting like herself, it may indicate anxiety or depression.

4. Mental Situation

A couple of mental conditions in dogs can cause his loss of appetite.

These conditions are anxiety and depression. If your dog is suffering from one of these conditions, your dog won’t eat properly.

Mental Situation

When your dog starts licking his lips or shaking his head, it could be a sign of hunger. It may also be related to anxiety, like stress, boredom, fear, and other issues. 

If your dog isn’t eating and seems unhappy, it could be a sign of a medical issue or a mental problem. But, on the other hand, it could also be a behavior he has developed.

5. If something breaks the dog heart

Yes, they also have a cute heart full of feelings. So, yes, they have a pretty heart full of emotions. Dogs also fall in love with their owners, home, environment, etc.

Several reasons might break your dog’s heart. First, perhaps, you are not playing with your dog anymore as before. 

Second, you have to sell your old house and shift to a new one. In that case, your dog may stop feeding and get sick soon.


Dogs who are either very young or old will be more at risk of complications from not eating. So make sure you don’t leave them without food for too long. 

However, no matter how long can a dog go without eating. Keep feeding your dog until he is as hungry as before he got sick. Then, cut back on the amount of food you give him until he is eating his “normal” amount again.

Ask your vet if you are not sure how much your dog should be eating. Only professionals can advise you properly if your dog is not eating or losing its appetite.

Generally, the amount that your dog eats varies from dog to dog. But a good rule of thumb is one cup (8 oz.) of dry food per 20 lbs. of body weight.

Watch this Video to know how long can a dog go without eating:


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