How Long Can a Dog go Without Food and Water?

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Thanks.

Food is a basic necessity that every living creature must get to survive. Without it, the body becomes weak, then weaker, and eventually, die. But since all breathing creatures are not the same, how long can a dog go without food? Two, three, seven, or ten? Well, this is going to be amongst our topics today but before we even get to discuss it. How did you get to think of that question? Are you just curious to know or you’re afraid your dog hasn’t eaten anything since the last 26 hours?

Anyways, whichever the case, your dog can’t last very long if he’s not eating anything. This, nonetheless, doesn’t mean you start preparing a small grave at your backyard. No. That’s very mean and unethical. It’s like burying your sweet, close friend when she is still breathing, which is the same as killing. If your dog is not eating and you’re worried how long she can survive it, the first thing for you to do is determining the cause. Do your investigation early and respond to it accordingly.

Similar Article: The 8 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Stomach And Diarrhea

Similar Article: The 8 Best Dog Food For Dogs With Allergies

how long can a dog go without food

What Can Be Making My Dog Not To Eat?

This should be the first question to write down immediately your daughter tells you “Airi” is not eating her food. There are several reasons Airi (your dog) may be disinterested in food and fail to eat. Some of the most common causes include:


Sickness is the major cause of a dog not eating. It usually affects the canine’s appetite and metabolism, making her completely lose interest in food. This can be a sign of a prevalent disorder, which can be either acute or life-threatening. We highly recommend visiting a veterinary immediately you notice your dog’s feeding bowl is still filled with the food you poured 24 hours ago. During this time, nonetheless, you have to ensure your dog remains hydrated to avoid causing more problems

Dental Problems

If your dog has dental issues, he may as well refuse to eat his food. This will happen if he gets to feel pain when chewing food or even he finds it hard to open his mouth. At this point, you have to help check if the pooch is having a broken/ loose tooth, severe gingivitis, or oral tumor.

Change in Diet

When changing diet, we highly recommend dog owners not to rush into it. Just because you found your Beagle chowing down the contents from the trash can doesn’t mean he can ingest and digest any meal provided. Dogs usually have very sensitive tummies and once you abruptly introduce a new diet to him you’ll provoke the condition.

Some pooches will even turn down the new diet (particularly dry dog food) if they’re used to yummy table scraps like fresh bacon or steak.

Behavioral Problems

Just as with humans, there are dogs which are born just picky and they won’t eat because the feeding bowl is dirty. Some will even turn down the meal because there’s an aggressive dog in the area.

New Surroundings

Also, your dog can fail to eat if you introduce him to a new surrounding which he feels uncomfortable. This is quite often with those who travel with their pets but it’s resolvable by bringing creature comforts, such as a favorite toy and bed.
Having highlighted some of the reasons which can make your dog lose appetite, let’s now discuss how long a dog go without food.

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food?

From the reasons we have discussed above, a condition like severe gingivitis can give you the jumps. Your dog will have trouble putting food in his mouth, leaving you confused how long it will take to heal and how he will survive. Even if the dog won’t be active, the body, definitely, needs the energy to support and promote optimum functioning of the vital organs.

As such, without the fuel (provided by food), the normal physiologic processes of the body will get affected. Over time, the body of the dog will cease to work completely and death ensues. For you to understand this context, let’s look at 2 crucial metabolic rates that usually facilitates the breaking down of nutrients in the body.

Resting Metabolic Rate

Resting metabolic rate, or simply RMR is the measure of how the body of your dog burns energy when resting. It’s the amount of energy that the body uses in performing the basic functions like breathing while doing nothing. The number of calories this process uses depend on a variety of aspects, such as age, weight, etc.
Resting metabolic rate is usually interchangeably confused with the basal metabolic rate (BMR)

Basal metabolic rate

This is a measure of the total calories your dog’s body requires to keep the basic (basal) organs fully functioning while doing nothing. In short, it’s the minimum number of calories your pooch needs to live. For optimal accuracy, the BMR is often measured in a lab setting which has very restrictive conditions (e.g. in a dark room).
Changes in your dog’s activity level hardly affect the basal metabolic rate but increased muscle mass increases BMR. This is because the muscles are metabolically “hungry” and it’ll take more energy to maintain them.

How Long Can A Dog Survive Without Food Then?

So, considering the Rest and Basal metabolic rate, a healthy dog which is in perfect conditions can last a minimum of 5 days without food. This applies if your dog has normal physiologic functioning and the reason for him not eating is due to behavioral problems.
If the canine has a medical problem like gingivitis or periodontal disease, nonetheless, the rest metabolic rate might increase. Which, in turn, promote an increase in basal metabolic rate. This happens because the prevalent pain can cause other symptoms like fevers and chills. To maintain optimal temperature, the body will need more energy, hence, depleting the glycogen stores and decreasing the survival time of your dog.

how long can a dog go without food

In about 3-5 days, the body of the unwell dog will be already weak to even pump blood, causing difficulty in breathing. If the canine has not been using water as well, the situation will even be worse. This now takes us to the next discussion question on how long can a dog go without water.

Before we discuss the question, though, let’s have a brief review of what causes dehydration and how to detect it in your dog.

What Causes Dehydration?

While the body can go up to a week without food, it can only survive a few days at most without water. Water is a very key component in various body functions, including digestion, waste removal, joint lubrication, and the transportation of nutrients. If your dog doesn’t take water, the body will become dehydrated and start losing body fluids, which includes the electrolytes with minerals like potassium. In no time, the processes of the body will begin to shut down, leading to a slow and painful death.

  • Apart from not taking clean water, your canine can also experience dehydration because of :
  • Being in a new, unfamiliar place and he gets cautious or nervous to drink water
  • Diseases, such as diabetes and kidney disorders, and he stop drinking water altogether
  • A traumatic experience, for example after dental surgery or castration, can make the dog too stressed to drink water
  • Also, reduced appetite can make your dog not to eat and drink

Perhaps you only live with your Toy Maltese or Beagle and incarcerating career, how can you tell your furry friend is experiencing dehydration?

Warning signs of dehydration in canines

  • Sunken, dry eyes due to the reduced water content in their muscles.
  • Lethargy (weariness or lack of energy) because of less blood flowing through your dog’s muscles
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Excessive panting
  • Dry nose, which can get cracked quickly
  • Difficulty in swallowing or digesting food, particularly dry dog food
  • Depression, whereby the dog is dull and dispirited even when around its toys or family members
  • Low skin elasticity: this is the easiest sign to tell your dog is suffering from dehydration. The skin tends to take a longer time to fall back into place after holding it into shape.

How long can a dog go without water?

As we had stated at the beginning of this topic, a dog can last longer without food than it can without water. If healthy and free of any medical condition, the pet has a maximum of 5 days without water. After that, the pooch will get in pretty poor shape that he might even need immediate medical care to prevent long-term damage.

Just as with the food, the period your dog can go without water can be affected by a variety of aspects as well. For instance, an active dog usually drinks a lot of water to help restore which it excretes. Also under a severe summer sun, the body requires a lot of fluid to cool off and maintain optimum temperature. Both the activeness and heated scenarios, the dehydrated canine will last lesser time than the less active counterpart under cool place.

how long can a dog go without water

In a situation where your dog has diarrhea and is vomiting, the time he survives without water will even be lesser. In fact, you need to find a way the pet will drink water within 16 or 20 hours. Otherwise, you’ll need to take your furred friend to the emergency veterinarian.

How To Ensure Your Dog Is Well-Fed And Fully Hydrated

In case you only share the apartment with your Chihuahua or beagle or Toy Maltese, that’s a member of your family. If you know you won’t be available in the next 8 hours or so, remember to leave behind enough food and water. You can even upgrade your home with a good surveillance system so that you can be monitoring your pet while away with ease.

For instance, with a good security camera which has a motion detection feature and supports remote access. You can remain connected with your one family and you get to know what he is doing. You can even place your dog’s feeding and water bowls within the view angle of the surveillance camera. Hence, alerting you via a push notification when the motion sensor detects the movement of your pet towards his bowl.

That’s now true embracement of the ever-changing technology for the good of your loved ones.

But in situations where you know, you will be away for over 24 hours, ask someone to come feed and water the dog for you. And if it’s a weekend vacation to the Bora Bora Island, why not take your dog with you? He can appreciate the scenery as well and don’t forget keeping you company.

Keep in Your Eye

Anyways, my point is that you should make sure your dog is having enough nutrition and water every day. Speaking of nutrition, always provide high-quality dog diet, which is complete and well-balanced. As you get the food, by the way, it’s worth to note the two different dog food versions and the feeding guide of each.

If you picked the dry dog food, always remember your dog will be needing double the water in every bowl of kibble. But if you have opted for the wet food, you might not need to provide a lot of water. The stew making up most of the canned diets usually comprises of 80% moisture, which is a lot of water. This moisture level makes it the best food formula in cases where your dog has an upset stomach or has difficulty chewing the dry crumbs.

My Dog Has Refused To Eat, What Should I Do?

If you find yourself in a situation where your dog has refused to eat or drink, our first recommendation is to visit your vet. Then, you can now start helping him eat or drink using a small bowl or even spoon-feeding. If the problem is drinking water, you can try the wet dog food or chicken and beef broth.

The good thing about the broth is that you can mix with food compounds like rice and create your own wet dog food. Hence, improving its palatability, digestibility, and help solve your fears with positivity.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top