Sometimes, dogs will refuse to eat, either because of an underlying medical condition or being finicky. But the real question is this: how long can a dog go without eating? Most dogs can get by without food for as long as three days. Hardy canines can push this to seven days. However, no matter how enduring a pooch is, it’s never healthy to deprive them of food. If your doggo has stopped eating for two days, you should bring it to the vet immediately.
How long can my dog survive without food?
Domesticated canines are not designed to endure starvation for long. Without food, its body will start to weaken. Thinner breeds like Greyhounds will easily succumb to death when deprived of food for as long as three days.
Healthy dogs can survive without food for up to five days, given that they have a clean and steady water supply. However, if the canine has a medical condition or health problems, its survival in the absence of food will spiral dramatically.
You should also take into account other factors like the weather. Any change in weather will increase your dog’s energy expenditure, which will make it starve faster.
Also, if your dog doesn’t have a lot of stored energy on its body, it has very little time to borrow before starvation becomes lethal. If your dog is forced to move a lot during the non-eating days, their stored energy will deplete fast.
How long can a puppy go without food? Unlike adult dogs, pups can’t go without food for longer than 12 hours. Due to their smaller bodies, puppies will suffer hypoglycemia when not fed within 12 hours. After a day or two, your pup will be in lethargic condition. The second or third day might be the final straw.
Never let your dog starve for days. If the pooch is refusing to take any food, you must be alarmed. The only solution to this problem is to bring the dog to the vet’s clinic.
What happens when a dog stops eating?
Once your dog stops eating, its body will not receive any source of energy. Also, your dog’s body organs will be deprived of the nutrients that it needs to function.
On the first day, your dog may appear slightly weak, while other canines may not show any symptoms at all. However, on the second day, your pet’s condition will worsen. You will notice a sudden decrease in activity, reluctance to get up, and irritability. This is also the same day when you should bring the dog to the vet immediately. Waiting longer will only make matters worse.
However, if your dog doesn’t eat on the third day, it would be deadly. Many dogs can’t survive past this day without food. Worse, since the doggo is too weak to get up, it may not have enough strength to get to the water bowl.
Never self-medicate your dog if it has stopped eating for two days. The vet is the best person to talk to when it comes to these problems. The vet will put your dog in an IV drip to replenish the lost fluids and to supply the pooch with nutrients. This will allow the vet to buy time to diagnose what’s wrong while reviving your dog’s health.
What causes a dog not to eat?
Poor appetite or the refusal to eat can be due to a lot of possible reasons. Many dogs are known to be hefty eaters. So if the pooch suddenly stops eating, pet owners will be baffled and scared.
To give you an idea, the following might be the reason why your dog isn’t eating:
- Medical condition. This is probably the most common reason why dogs will refuse to eat. The likes of pancreatitis, parasites, allergies, internal obstructions, and cancer will affect your dog’s appetite. This should be addressed right away with the help of a veterinarian. In this case, you need to treat the main culprit to regain your dog’s appetite.
- Finicky attitude. If the vet has ruled out any medical problems, your dog is probably just finicky. However, picky eaters will usually eat once it becomes starving. You must try to make meals more enjoyable with a drop of fish oil or by introducing a new dog that’s smellier and tastier.
- Vaccinations. Some dogs refuse to eat after getting their shots. This is normal, and dogs will usually eat generally within 24 hours. However, if such habit lingers the next day, it pays to call the vet to raise your concern.
- Lifestyle changes. Did you just welcome a baby at home? Is someone dear to your pooch passed on? These sudden changes will affect your dog’s emotional state. The doggo may refuse to eat due to stress and depression. You can always ask the vet to address this.
- Diet changes. If you switched your dog to new food and it stopped eating, the new menu might be unappealing for them. Make sure that you do the switch slowly so your dog can adjust to the new food. Aside from avoiding finicky eating, the slow introduction of a new diet is necessary to prevent adverse reactions like diarrhea and vomiting.
Feeding a sick dog who won’t eat
If you have a sick dog that just won’t eat, you have to act fast. The canine’s compromised situation will make it prone to the fatal repercussions of food deprivation. To help feed your sick dog, you can do the following:
- Make it soupy. Some sick dogs find it hard to swallow or chew food. In this case, try adding warm, low-sodium broth to their kibble to make it easier to ingest.
- Syringe-feeding. If you have a young pup that refuses to eat, you can syringe-feed it. Take note that pups can’t go without eating for more than 12 hours. Make sure that you speak with the vet before you perform this, so you’ll know what to do this.
- Let them eat grass. Is your dog refusing to eat food but seems to be attracted to grass? If so, let the dog be. Eating grass is observed among dogs, which the pooch uses to appease its upset stomach. Just make sure that your lawn grass doesn’t have pesticides or toxic substances.
- Appetite stimulant. If all else fails, the vet can prescribe an appetite stimulant to your dog to induce its eating habits. However, before the dog prescribes this, it will first identify what’s causing your dog’s refusal to eat.
Why is my dog not eating its food but eating treats?
There are two possible reasons here: it’s either the food is not good-tasting or that your dog has gum problems.
Some dogs are picky eaters, and they will shun food that they don’t find appealing. In this case, try adding smelly flavors like fish oil or canned pumpkin to entice your pooch to eat. However, if your dog isn’t sold to your additions, it’s probably time to switch to a new dog food product.
On the other hand, dogs who only prefer treats might be dealing with gum diseases. It’s possible that the treat is much softer than their kibble, making it easier to chew and swallow. The crunchy kibble probably hurts the dog’s gums.
If this is the cause, you need to take your dog to the vet to treat the gum problem. Remember those gum problems can branch out to severe conditions like heart issues and infections. Immediate medical attention will save your dog from further pain and your pocket from hefty vet fees.
So how long can a dog go without eating? Two days is a rule of thumb. However, you shouldn’t wait for 48 hours to lapse before you take action. Refusal to eat is a serious problem, which can put your dog’s life at risk if you don’t find any solution. The vet is always at your service, whatever your dog is going through.