Dogs, as well as any living being, need both food and water to survive.

For one reason or another, you might experience your pet not wanting to eat any food at all. Don’t worry: up to 5 days is how long a dog can go without eating. Regardless, they should never reach this limit.

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating Anything?

First and foremost, we’d like to note that dogs are pretty resistant to starvation. It is highly unlikely they die of starvation unless we’re talking about stray ones. These pets can even survive a month without food.

How long a dog can go without eating depends on its health. As for healthy dogs, they can withhold eating without severe issues for about 5 days, even 10. However, if there is no water available, signs of dehydration will show up within 24 hours.

In the case of puppies, their starvation threshold is very small compared to older dogs: they can go only 12 hours without any food. Due to them not developing any fat reserves yet and having a quick metabolism, young ones will suffer serious symptoms in just half a day.

In regard to old dogs, they can survive as any normal dog: 3 to 5 days. Since they are direct descendants of wolves, it’s natural they can endure some days without eating. The problems arise when they are sick, which is often the case for senior pets.

How long a sick dog can go without food depends on the type of illness it’s suffering. Normally, sick ones can go between 2 and 3 days without eating. Unfortunately, if the digestive tract is affected, then your pet will endure much less.

This is due to the digestive system being the one responsible for obtaining energy. If it’s not working well, dogs can’t get enough energy to maintain their other organs. If they don’t eat while in this state, their condition will deteriorate pretty quickly.

Why Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Eat

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There are a lot of reasons why your dog doesn’t want to eat: some of them might be mild issues, while others are indications of severe sickness. It’s important to detect which one is the case for your dog before you act.

Picky Eaters

Would someone like to eat the same meal every day without complaints? Of course not: the same is true for some dogs.

Certain pets get bored by their ordinary meals and wish for more extravagant dishes than the regular kibble they eat all the time. As a countermeasure, you can either change your dog’s diet or add an appealing topper or oil to their regular diet.

Mouth Issues

Dogs don’t like eating when it pains them to do so.

Sensitive teeth, mouth ulcers, and dry mouth usually make dogs avoid eating thanks to digestion being an uncomfortable experience. Eating less, or not eating, then becomes a symptom of an underlying issue.

For example, sensitive teeth are poor mouth hygiene, often derived from plaque. Uremia and other mouth infections are caused by kidney disease. Lastly, dry mouth happens when a dog is dehydrated thanks to intestinal worms or just low water intake.

Stress and Anxiety

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Stress and anxiety are reasons not to be discarded: dogs won’t eat while they go through hard times.

A common condition among sole pets with only one parent is separation anxiety: your pet will try to not let you go and will be pretty restless before you leave the house. This, of course, affects how much they eat. Be mindful that certain breeds are more prone to it.

Moreover, new homes and pets also cause a lot of stress to our pets. Unfamiliar environments make dogs, and any other house animal, more nervous and heavily impacts their behavior. In return, they eat much less or even stop eating.

A dog’s psychological health should be a top priority to any owner.

Upset Stomach

Not eating is a common symptom of an upset stomach. However, there are many possible agents behind an irritated stomach.

  • Mild Stomachache

From time to time, especially when eating a spicy or heavy meal, a dog’s stomach will be irritated. Eating less or outright not eating is a common response to this.

Don’t panic! This is a natural response and, if this is the case, your dog will eat soon after getting over its indigestion.

  • Affected Digestive System

This is a more serious situation and can lead to life-threatening issues if not treated.

An upset stomach is just one of the many signs of an affected digestive system. Typically, diseases like kidney failure, liver failure, dehydration, intestinal parasites, reflux, and infections are to blame.

For instance, dogs with acid reflux won’t eat because they know they’ll probably end up vomiting anything they eat. The same logic applies to intestinal parasites and kidney failure.

Unfortunately, there are other symptoms that we’ll notice during troubled digestion. Diarrhea, lethargy, throwing up, pungent or fishy smell, and depression are among the most frequent symptoms.

Instinctive Response to Sickness

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A lot of dogs’ behavioral patterns can be traced back to wolves, and one of them is eating less in order to overcome sickness.

Animals tend to eat less when sick, but not because they are so sick they can’t eat, but rather to relocate energy towards their immune system.

Digesting food takes energy from one’s body, so, instead of using that energy for processing food, dogs use that energy for recovering quicker. Although it’s a good mechanism on paper, there is a big flaw to this: if not recovered, your pet’s health will worsen way faster.

How Can I Make My Dog Eat Again?

In such a predicament, the very first thing you have to do is bait your dog into eating by giving them their favorite meal or treat.

If they don’t care about it or reluctantly eat it to appease their owner, then your dog has an underlying health issue. If this is the case, you’ll need to take your pet to the veterinarian.

Regardless, if they do eat it like always, then a minor problem is the culprit. In general, the most effective method to make your dog eat again is changing their diet to a more easily digestible meal. Viable options would be wet kibbles, soft treats, and canned dog food.