If you’re searching for how long can a dog go without food then it must either mean your dog is refusing to eat due to an illness, perhaps a mystery or your trying to starve your dog for whatever reason. Hopefully, it will be because of the former and not the latter. Here on the JugDog blog we are going to look at dogs digestive system in general before looking at why dogs may go without food for unusual length of time before giving a comprehensive answer to the question at hand – how long can dogs go without eating and consuming food.
How much should a dog eat in a day?
A dog’s metabolism differs from dog to dog and the amount of calories varies from dog foods which makes this question almost impossible to answer exactly. However, dogs are generally feed 1-3 balanced meals a day. On some rare days my dog may go for most of the day without a meal but may eat some treats along the way – on occasion he may go a day without eating if he’s particularly tired or unwell but otherwise that’s the limit. Generally, 1-3 meals of wet and dry food should be what an average dog should eat.
How long can a dog go without eating food?
The length of time a canine can go without eating food depends from one canine to another and is affected by many factors such as
- Dog’s age
- Dog’s general physical and mental health
- Time of the dog’s last meal
- Whether or not the dog is currently sick or on medication
- How hydrated the dog is
Therefore it’s fair to say there is not set time how long any single dog could go without food. However, in general, a healthy dog can survive for 3-5 days with no food whatsoever. This assumption is based on the dog not being a puppy, elderly or unhealthy. If you have a puppy, older dog or a sick dog then the length of time the dog can go without good can be considerably reduced.
Never, ever let your dog go without food for too long. If your dog has suddenly lost their appetite then you need to seek medial help at once – your dog is likely to be suffering from some sort of illness that needs to be treated. In some cases, elderly dogs can refuse to eat as they prepare for the end – however this is not the article for that subject today!
With the right kind of treatment your dog’s appetite should come back.
What can cause dogs to not eat their food?
There are a few reasons which can cause a dog to go without food, here we’ll list them and give you some tips on how to help
Sickness can affect a dog’s appetite and their metabolism. A lack of appetite and refusing food is usually a symptom of a wider problem. If you’re dog has been refusing food for 24 hours then it’s time to take them to the vet. Ensure they are well hydrated during this time as going without water can cause more problems than going without food.
Many dogs who turn their nose at grub may have an underlying dental problem which makes it difficult or painful to eat food. If your dog hasn’t eaten in a while take a look in their mouth for signs of a dental problem.
Some dogs experiencing new surroundings, perhaps because of travel may sometimes be put off their food. If this is the case, your dog should start eating again once they’ve settled in. In the event it doesn’t and it’s now been more than 24 hours then a trip to the vet may be needed.
Bringing creature comforts like their favourite toys and preferred bed helps a lot with travel problems.
RELATED: Dog Beds Which Are Water Proof
Behaviour problems causing dogs to not eat food is a tricky one to figure out, here are some behaviour problem causes:
- Is the dog bowl dirty?
- Are you trying new food that they just don’t like?
- Is there an aggressive dog in the area?
- Is the height of the bowl too high?
- Are they dehydrated?
- Are they full because they’ve been fed too many treats?
There are a lot of things that could be causing problems so it’s always good to investigate them all before panicking, why not install a dog camera and watch them? As with many of the other points above, give it 24 hours before getting medical help.
What happens to a dog if they don’t eat?
A dog not eating and who is starving is a terrible and depressing sight to behold. Being hungry is no fun so being starving is a miserable existence. Starvation has a few phases which can change the appearance and behaviour of a dog over time which gets worse and worse.
Within 24 hours of starvation a dog will be mostly fine. However, the glycogen stores will start to be used up instead of using up the nutrients in food. Blood sugar is one of the most important things for a dog to keep normal. For the first 24 hours there should be enough in the dog’s stores to keep them going at a relatively normal level.
As the glycogen stores become depleted the dog’s body begins to create energy from other sources, this is called gluconeogenesis. The dog is now quickly becoming unstable and unhealthy with very little energy to do anything but survive. This is a critical time to get your dog to the vet or fed as death quickly looms at this point.
Your dog is now breaking down the fat for energy full time and the effects of starvation will be clearly visible. The liver is also releasing ketones into the bloodstream as a form of energy. There is nowhere else for the dog to get energy from and unless they are given medical attention they will eventually perish.
The key takeaways here is that how long can a dog go without food is around 3-5 days but not eating should be a cause for concern after 24 hours. There may be a lot of reasons why you’re dog isn’t eating so you should consider them all before seeing medical help – it may be a simple reason which can be resolved quickly and easily.
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.