How Long Can Dogs Go Without Food?

Is your dog running away from food and not eating its favorite food either? An adequate and balanced diet is vital for your pup. Otherwise, it would get unhealthy and sick.

Dogs would only survive for five days without food, but they will require water to stay alive that longIf your dog does not eat for 2 or 3 days, several diseases will find a way to attack them. These diseases include nutrient deficiency, anorexia, and more.

In some situations, dogs survive longer without any severe health issues. In this article, we will be helping you to know how long your dog can go without eating and when you should worry about it.

Moreover, we will also tell you why your pup isn’t eating and what can happen if you don’t eat food for three days straight. You’ll also know what you can feed your sick or old dog if they haven’t had any appetite for many days. Let’s not wait further and dive deeper.

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food Before Dying?

Image from Darwin’s Pet

If your pup is in good health but still not eating anything, it can stay alive for around seven days with only access to water. However, if your dog is not in a better condition, to begin with, it can go up to three days without access to water.

Let’s dig a little more to see what can happen to your dog if it doesn’t eat food for three days constantly.

What Happens If A Dog Doesn’t Eat For 3 Days?

If your pup isn’t eating anything for three days, it will suffer from nutrient deficiency, intestinal tumors, anorexia, fur loss, bad breath, and body odor.

Nutritional Deficiency

When it comes to a balanced diet for your pup, you shouldn’t over-serve his treats. Instead, your dog must take proper food, ensuring the checklist includes vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

If your pup isn’t eating food, it is definitely not receiving enough nutrients, and after two or three days, it would start getting weaker day by day.


There are so many tumor and cancer types surrounding the pups with no diet. When your dog stops eating, it can cause red and itchy skin, leading to different types of tumors.

Moreover, if Lipoma attacks your pup, it can cause a life-threatening condition as it usually hinders the ability to move around and be active in your pouch. There are also more hazardous tumors in town that can bring death to your little furball.


Anorexia is basically the lack of food intake, which is pretty standard in dogs. Hunger is physically driven in dogs, whereas appetite is mentally driven

Anorexia, when it reaches its peak, it turns into a life-threatening disease for your pup. Mainly, there are two different kinds of anorexia, pseudo anorexia and true anorexia.

Pseudo Anorexia

This anorexia type results in a lack of food intake. However, if your pup has pseudo anorexia, it would want to eat food but will be unable to. The reason behind this is weakness, difficulty in chewing and picking up the food.

True Anorexia

If your pup is coping with true anorexia, it can bring up the lack of food intake to a greater extent. This anorexia type visibly shows physical symptoms, which you should take into consideration seriously.

Fur & Skin Problems

When your pup doesn’t get the right amount of food and minerals, it suffers from malnourishment. An imbalanced diet and lack of appetite of your pup will start to affect its skin. As a result, the healthy coat of your pup will lose its shine and become dull. 

Other than that, a reduction in food for three or more days can also cause dandruff in your little furball’s hairs. Thus, the fur coat will lose strength with no food, nutrients, or energy.

Body Odor

if your pup doesn’t eat for three days or more, it can affect the anal sacs of your canine companion. Dogs have two scent sacs that are a kind of marking gland. When your dog doesn’t eat food and loses its appetite, it affects his body badly and causes extreme smelly secretion from it. 

Moreover, a decrease in diet also causes parasites and infections in your pup’s body. A healthy dog body has the strength to fight infection, but a pup with no energy can suffer from hormonal infection and allergies, which lead to odor to your pup.

When Should I Worry About My Dog Not Eating?

Image from 1-800-PetMeds

You should take notice if your pup hasn’t eaten anything for two days.

When your dog is off the food, it should be treated as soon as possible. Otherwise, it can turn into a life-threatening situation for your puppy. Here we have listed some reasons why your pup can suffer from a lack of appetite.

Dental Problem

Check out if your furball has any dental problems because it may not eat because of the pain. Take your pup to the vet and have it checked for any loose or broken tooth. Sometimes, pups also decrease appetite due to oral tumors or severe gingivitis.

Recent Vaccination

If you have recently vaccinated your dog, it can also be why your dog lacks appetite. Fortunately, many vaccinations help our furry companions prevent infection and diseases but, these vaccinations also have adverse effects on a dog’s diet. 


If your pup refuses to eat, then it can be a sign of a severe illness such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Bacterial or viral infection 
  • Fever
  • Kidney disease 
  • Liver disease 
  • Cancer
  • Pyometra 
  • Pain in the mouth or other body parts
  • Gastroenteritis

It is crucial to identify these diseases before the situation gets out of hand. So, once you notice your dog not eating for days, you should run to your vet and get some diagnostic tests done.

The vet will probably start with a blood or urine test to come to a diagnosis. After that, they may run some more tests to see the level of the damage the disease has done to your pup.

Unfamiliar Surroundings

Most dogs are pretty sensitive to their environment and the changes in them. If you have recently shifted to a new house or shifted your dog to a new kennel, then it can be the reason behind its loss of appetite. 

Moving to a new place usually stresses the pups and makes them uncomfortable. Not only this, but getting used to new stuff is also challenging for dogs, such as a new family membera second dogfood bowl, or changing weather. In such situations, your pup will not feel like eating.

So, you can try to trail down the recent changes in your pup’s surroundings and make them a bit more homely to the dog.

What Do You Feed A Sick Dog With No Appetite?

There are many different types of dog illnesses, due to which it might lose its appetite. You need to deal with their moody behavior in the best way possible.

Dogs need to eat when they’re sick because it helps them get better faster. However, some dogs won’t touch the food you put in front of them. If that’s the case with your pup, try these tips to help encourage your dog to eat:

  • Try moistening dry kibble by adding chicken brothor baby formula.
  • Offer small amounts at a time, so there isn’t too much pressure on your dog’s stomach.
  • Make sure you have an easy way for your dog to eat, such as a raised feeder or feeding mat.
  • Try warming the food up to room temperature for about five minutes.

When your dog eats, it can make all of the difference! Feed them first thing in the morning and last at night before bedtime. This way, they don’t associate mealtimes with other activities that might stress them out, such as walks or playtime. 

If your pup is still not eating after trying all of these tips, it might be time to take them to the vet. They can help you figure out what’s wrong and give your dog the treatment they need. And don’t worry, there is always hope for a sick dog! With proper care, they will get better in no time.

White Chicken And Rice

Even though your sick dog may not have much of an appetite, you can still tempt them with some delicious white chicken and rice. This dish is simple to make and easy for your dog to digest.

Start by cooking the rice according to package instructions. While the rice is cooking, cut up a cooked chicken into small pieces. Once the rice is finished, mix the chicken until everything is evenly distributed. 

Serve hot and enjoy! Your dog will be sure to appreciate this meal even if they’re not feeling their best.

Image from Wolf Spring

Shredded Chicken Breasts 

Sick dogs with no appetite will often refuse to eat regular dog food. A great way to get your dog to eat is by feeding them shredded chicken breasts. Chicken is a good source of protein and can help your dog regain its strength

You can either cook the chicken yourself or buy it pre-cooked from the grocery store. If you cook the chicken yourself, make sure to remove the bones and skin before shredding it. Once your dog has regained its appetite, slowly transition to its regular diet. 

Shredded chicken breasts are a great way to get your sick dog to eat without having to force them to take medication or supplements

Baby Food

If your pup is shaking its head on every other food, then you can try feeding it baby food. Its delicious smell and taste will help boost your dog’s appetite. Plus, it is easy to eat and digest, so it’s a win-win for your pup. 

You can quickly get baby food jars in various fruity flavors from your local store. However, don’t feed baby food to your dog regularly as it is high in carbohydrates and fats.

Also, some baby foods contain ingredients that are harmful to your canine. So, check the baby food ingredients you are buying beforehand to avoid any complications. 

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is another excellent food for making your sick dog start eating again. It will also treat diarrhea and settle your pup’s upset stomach due to its high level of fiber and vitamins. 

However, don’t serve raw sweet potatoes to the pup as it can block your dog’s intestines. So, you must remove the sweet potatoes’ skin, cut them into tiny pieces, boil or cook them for 20 minutes and then mash them to feed your dog. 


Fish is not only the favorite food of cats, but its smell also helps a sick dog to eat. It is also soft enough for feeding dogs with problematic jaws and teeth. Plus, you can also make your dog start eating if it suffers from anxiety and depression. 

It is also great for breastfeeding canines who have an upset stomach and don’t feel like eating. However, don’t give raw fish to your dog as it can cause some severe complications. Instead, it is better to properly debone and cook small fish pieces for your furry baby.

What Can You Give An Old Dog That Won’t Eat?

If your old pup is having difficulty eating the regular dog food, you can try feeding it some wet food or lean ground beef. You can also soak some dry kibble in warm water to make it easy for your old buddy to eat. 

Before making any changes in your old dog’s diet, make sure to determine the cause behind it. Here are some of the common issues that cause your dog to lose appetite for that purpose. 

  • Chronic pain
  • Constipation
  • Arthritis or back problems
  • Losing sense of taste or smell
  • Side effects of medications

Now, remedies for regaining appetite in any of these conditions will differ from each other.

Remedies For Making Your Old Dog Eat

For Constipation

You can try to give your dog fluids or wet food in constipation. In the case of wet food, you can go for canned food or simply add some gravy to your dog’s food. 

You can give it chicken broth with low salt and a bit of flavor to make it appetizing. Moreover, a spoon of canned pumpkin can also do the trick and open the gateways of your dog’s appetite.

Loss Of Taste And Smell

For this, you can also add some gravy, canned food, broth, or any delicious and bit colorful treats to your old dog’s meals. It will help make its meals more visually appealing and appetizing. Make sure to serve the food warm to increase its flavor and smell.

Pain And Discomfort

One of the reasons that dogs refuse to eat is their unbearable joint or back pains. For this, you can give your canine some bone broth, ground meat, or chicken, primarily liquids, to make it easy for the dog to swallow. 

But before this, you should contact your vet and ask them for advice or schedule a visit. You can also give gentle massages or strokes to your dog to keep his blood flowing and reduce the striking pain. You can also use heat packs that are warm enough to relieve the pain.

Side Effects Of Medications

Usually, medicines can cause loss of appetite as a side effect to dogs. You cannot stop the medication, though, but you can try to limit it or opt for some ways of encouraging your senior pup to eat.

Here are some of the medications that commonly cause loss of appetite in dogs.

  • Clavamox, Amoxicillin, Doxycycline, and Baytril (antibiotics)
  • Meloxicam, Metacam, and Rimadyl (for inflammations)
  • Proin or Propalin (for urine problems)
  • Lysodren (for Cushing’s Disease)
  • Tramadol (pain-killer)

However, if your vet says that this loss of appetite isn’t because of sickness, you’ll have to develop new ideas to make your dog eat. Here are a few tips to help old dogs with no appetites get the nutrition they need.

Image from Pet Plate

Add A Few New Things To Diet

Sometimes all your old dog needs is a little variety in its diet. If they have been eating the same type of food over and over again for many years, it can get quite boring.

In this case, you may want to try adding a few new things to their diet in order to tempt them. There are many different types of dog food on the market these days, so it should be easy to find something that your dog will enjoy.

Try Feeding Smaller Portions 

If your dog is not very hungry, you may want to try feeding them smaller portions more often throughout the day. This will help keep their blood sugar levels stable, and it will also prevent them from becoming too hungry at one time.

Try A Different Type of Food

If your dog is not eating because they are having trouble digesting their food, you may want to try a different type of food. There are many different types of dog food on the market, and you may be able to find one that is easier for them to digest.

Try A Different Time Of Day To Feed

If your old dog is only eating at certain times of the day, you may want to try feeding it at a different time of day. Often, it is your dining schedule that makes your dog eat at certain times and not others.

If you can change when your pooch is getting its food, this will give it a better chance to get hungry throughout the day so that it may eat.

Take Your Dog For A Walk

If your dog isn’t feeling well or has a bad back, it is hard for them to get up and move around. You can try taking your dog on a long walk or a short but strenuous walk. This has been known to help some dogs who aren’t eating as much to eat better afterward. After the walk, give them some time to rest before you try feeding them again.

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Pete Decker