How Long Can Dogs Go Without Food? (RISKS & SIGNS)

How long can dogs go without food? The answer is important to know. After all, you never know when they might run away and be on their own or you might have to leave them alone for a day.

Fortunately, dogs are robust and generally able to go without food for much longer than humans can. In fact, most healthy adult dogs can last for up to 24 hours without any ill effects.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should intentionally starve your dog or make them skip meals regularly. Doing so could lead to health problems down the road.

Ask your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s diet or how often they should be eating.

But if you find yourself in a situation where you need to leave your dog alone for a day, you can rest assured knowing that they should be able to make it through just fine.

Always give your dog plenty of fresh water as well as space and toys to exercise and play. If you know that you’ll be gone for a couple of days, we recommend using an automatic feeder to keep your dog healthy and happy.

Most healthy dogs can go without food for up to two days without any ill effects. However, if your dog is pregnant, nursing, or has a health condition, she may need to eat more frequently.

What If My Dog Hasn’t Eaten for 3 Days?

Dogs can go a day without food, but it is stressful for them
Dogs can go for 24 hours without food, though it isn’t recommended.

A dog that doesn’t eat for three days will become weak and dehydrated. They may also start to experience liver damage and other health problems.

Some dogs refuse to eat new food or lose their appetite due to illness. If you’re concerned that your dog isn’t eating, be sure to speak with a veterinarian.

Effects of Canine Starvation

How long can dogs go without food depends on the dog’s breed and its health condition before experiencing a lack of food. Here are a few things that starving dogs experience.

  1. Become aggressive in their quest for food
  2. Attempt to eat inedible objects including rocks and dirt
  3. Malnourished dogs can experience organ failure
  4. Muscle atrophy from lack of protein
  5. Apathy, lethargy, and ultimately death

Things That Might Cause a Dog to Go Without Eating

There are a few different things that could cause a dog to go without eating. Some medical conditions can make it difficult or even impossible for a dog to eat, while others may simply lose their appetite.

Psychological stress or anxiety can also lead to dogs refusing to eat and can even impact their ability to do daily activities, such as taking a walk.

Here are five potential reasons why your dog might not be eating:

Medical issues

If your dog is suddenly refusing food, and you don’t know why it’s important to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying health issues.

Some common medical causes of anorexia in dogs include kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, and gastrointestinal problems.


Dogs commonly refuse to eat food when they’re experiencing stress or anxiety.

If there have been any changes in your dog’s environment, such as a move to a new home, a new pet, or a new child, this could be the cause of their anorexia.

Dogs can also become stressed when they’re not getting enough exercise or attention from their owners. Leaving a dog for longer than a few hours can be enough to cause some dogs to stop eating.


Along with stress, anxiety can also lead to a loss of appetite in dogs. If your dog seems particularly anxious or nervous, it may be impacting its ability to eat.

Dogs frequently suffer from separation anxiety, social anxiety, and noise phobias. Dogs act out by barking, tearing up human belongings, defecating and urinating in the home, and refusing to eat food.

Loss of appetite

In some cases, dogs simply lose their appetite and don’t feel like eating. This can be due to a variety of factors, including old age, boredom, or changes in routine.

If your dog is otherwise healthy and there’s no obvious reason for their loss of appetite, it’s probably nothing to worry about, but take him for a vet checkup to make sure.

Picky eating

Some dogs are just pickier than others when it comes to food. If your dog refuses to eat every type of food you offer them, it’s time to consult a veterinarian or canine nutritionist.

They can help you figure out how to best cater to your dog’s individual dietary needs. We tested out some great dog foods to help our picky eaters nose up to the bowl.

5 Signs That Your Dog Is at the End of its Life

It’s hard to say how long a dog can go without food before it dies because the size of the dog, how active it is, and its general health all affect longevity.

However, here are 5 signs that your dog might be reaching the end of his life:

  • The dog stops eating or drinking water
  • Becomes very weak and lethargic
  • Has trouble standing or walking
  • Experiences seizures or convulsions
  • Body temperature falls below normal levels

Read More: Do Shock Collars Cause Seizures in Dogs? Not normally, but here are the circumstances in which it might.

How to Encourage Dogs to Eat

A dog will eat anything when it is starving
A dog will attempt to eat anything when it is hungry.

There are many reasons why a dog may stop eating, but here are 5 things you can do to encourage your dog to eat:

1) Try different foods. Some dogs may just be picky eaters. By trying different types of food, you may be able to find something your dog will enjoy eating.

2) Make mealtimes special. Dogs often associate food with positive experiences. Try making mealtimes a positive experience for your dog by offering praise and affection.

3) Add some excitement. Add a little excitement to mealtimes by hiding their food around the house or yard. This will stimulate hunting instincts and turn mealtime into a fun activity.

4) Slow down. Some dogs may just need a little more time to eat. Try serving their meals in a slow-feeder bowl or puzzle toy to give them a chance to savor their food and get a little extra exercise.

5) Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out medical problems.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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