How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

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Dogs are direct descendants of wolves, who can go for days without food if hunting is scarce. However, dogs tend to be gluttons, so if your beloved canine suddenly stops eating, we dog parents tend to get anxious and panicky.

For most dogs, going off their food for a day or two isn’t necessarily a cause for panic, as healthy dogs are known to be able to go three to five days without eating. In this blog post, we’ll look at all the reasons that your pooch might be shunning its food and how you can help your dog eat. 

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

All dogs are different, and a dog’s health and appetite can depend on several factors such as their environment, activity level, and breed. It is generally accepted that a healthy dog can go three to five days without food. 

However, this doesn’t apply to smaller breeds that are prone to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. In addition, young puppies have to eat all the time to keep up with their rapidly growing bodies. 

If your dog is already suffering from an illness, going without food can be a cause for concern. 

Don’t forget to check this important article: What Is A Dog’s Ideal Diet

When To Seek Professional Help?

While most dogs are gluttons and love food, some dogs can be finicky eaters that are picky about their food. If your dog usually has a good appetite and hasn’t eaten for three days, it might be time for a trip to the vet to rule out other medical reasons. 

In addition, if your dog hasn’t drank any water in 24 hours, dehydration is a real concern and you might need medical intervention. Your vet might ask you about your pet’s medical history and will most likely perform a thorough physical exam on your dog. 

If your dog is showing other symptoms of illness such as lethargy, diarrhea, weakness, and vomiting, you might want to take your dog straight to the vet. A lack of appetite and some of these symptoms could mean severe illnesses such as parvovirus and distemper. 

Reasons Your Dog Isn’t Eating

There are several reasons why your dog could be off its food like a medical reason, cognitive problem, or simply being picky.

Medical Issues

The medical list of why your dog isn’t eating is extensive. However, below are some of the most common symptoms you need to look out for.

  • Allergies
  • Upset Stomach
  • Infection
  • Dental issues
  • Parasites
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Oral tumors
  • Inflammation of esophagus
  • Generalized pain
  • Conditions such as cancer, organ failure, and diabetes

Cognitive Problems

Like humans, dogs are prone to moods and stress. If there is a big change in life such as a loved one being away or moving homes, your dog could be sensitive to these abrupt changes and go off its food. 

Some dogs are known to go off their food for days if their owners go away, even on a short trip. In addition, some of these life changes could trigger depression and anxiety in dogs. Depressed dogs will be less active and playful, as well as have a disturbed sleeping schedule. They may sleep all day and night or may not sleep at all, which can cause mood swings and irritability. 

They may not show interest in things they used to love before. For example, a depressed dog might not even go near a treat or toy they enjoyed before.

An anxious dog can exhibit behaviors like excessive whining, shaking, unexpected aggression, hiding, and pacing. If you think your dog might be undergoing extreme stress or depression, it is best to consult with a vet to rule out possible medical reasons, then seek a canine behaviorist to help your dog. 

Picky Eating 

Although most dogs love food, the rare few are unmotivated by food and extremely picky about what they eat, similar to we humans that simply don’t like the taste of certain foods. 

Just as you might not enjoy the taste of broccoli or Brussels sprouts, your dog may turn up his nose at certain items in his food bowl. Or, if he’s getting food that isn’t nutritionally balanced, he may not be getting all the nutrients he needs, leading him to lose interest in his meals. Finally, some dogs develop bad habits, such as begging for table scraps or scavenging for food around the house. 

As a result, they become less interested in their regular dog food. If your dog is a picky eater, talk to your veterinarian to find out if there is any underlying medical reason for his behavior. In addition, make sure you are providing him with a high-quality diet that meets his nutritional needs. 

Ways to Get Your Dog to Eat

If your dog is off their food, you can try to entice him to eat by switching up their plain, dry kibble with some wet food instead. You can also use naturally-flavored broth like chicken or beef to wet their kibble and make it more appetizing. Make sure that the food you’re offering is high quality and nutritious. Dogs can be picky, but they’ll usually eat if they’re getting something that tastes good and is good for them. 

In addition, you can try serving the food in a new way or in a new location. Eating can be a monotonous task for dogs, so mix things up to keep their interest piqued. 

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in eating right away, give them some time and then try again. With a little persistence, you should be able to get even the most stubborn dog to eat.

Final Thoughts 

Overfeeding our canine companions is a common mistake many dog owners make. We often give in to those big, soulful eyes begging for just one more treat, not realizing that we may be doing more harm than good.

So, the next time your dog starts giving you the puppy eyes at dinnertime, resist the urge to give in and remember that he or she can probably go a little longer without food than you can. And if you’re ever unsure about how long your dog can go without eating, always err on the side of caution and consult your veterinarian.

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