How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?
For many of us, animals are more than pets – they are a part of the family. Unfortunately, we don’t speak the same language. As such, we need to learn how to recognize what they’re trying to communicate to us in other ways. Especially when it comes to possible health issues, which can result in a lack of appetite.
This is particularly noticeable in dogs, so one of the first questions we should ask is: how long can a dog go without eating?
How Long Can a Dog Go Without Food?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, not least the dog itself. Reports range from anywhere between a week and a month.
Puppies and young dogs are more likely to go longer periods without food. Conversely, dogs getting on in age will feel the consequences of less food much sooner.
Poor health can be either the cause of a lack of appetite, or its consequence. Dogs in their prime will eat plentifully and heartily, while those that are sickly are more prone to refusing food.
Nevertheless, we can agree that the more time passes without proper nutrition, the more danger your canine friend is in. It is crucial to pay attention to just how long it’s been since their last meal. If the threshold passes 48 hours, your concerns are justified. It is time to look for solutions.
The Telltale Signs
The longer your dog goes without eating, whatever the reason, the more symptoms you will notice. In order to avoid serious complications, look out for the following things:
Hunger can make your dog much less alert and active. It may be more sluggish during everyday activities such as playtime and walks. It will have a distinctly lowered sense of alertness. What’s more, you may find that it does not respond the way it usually does.
Pooches that haven’t eaten in a while are understandably irritable. You may notice a lack of tolerance on their part. Furthermore, this agitation can soon grow into blatant aggression.
Even if the dog is drinking water, a lack of proper nutrition can result in dehydration. Please make sure that your dog is getting enough water even if it’s not eating sufficiently. Going a long time without water can have much more radical consequences on your dog’s health than being without food.
Why Is Your Dog Not Eating?
1. It is a picky eater
Dogs are really no different than any other creature. They can be as finicky about their food as any child.
A lack of variety can easily result in your dog simply finding the food boring.
Alternatively, perhaps your dog is mildly allergic to some types of food, or maybe it upsets its stomach.
You can easily get to the root of this problem. A simple test including your dog’s favorite treat can show you if it’s refusing to eat the same old food every day, or if it’s something more serious.
2. Adjusting to new surroundings
Relocating is one of the most stressful changes in the lives of humans and pets alike.
The source of the problem is twofold here.
First things first: traveling. Being stuck in a vehicle of any sort is not an ideal scenario for anyone. Depending on how your dog handles rides, it’s understandable if their appetite is somewhat lacking afterward.
The second thing to consider is the new environment. The dog will inevitably have to go through an adjustment period and get familiar with everything new. As a result, they may not feel like eating for a while.
Toothache is one of the most common factors in a dog’s refusal to eat.
Think about the last time you had a toothache yourself. It didn’t matter if you were hungry; the mere prospect of eating made it all worse.
Dogs are the same. Cavities, loose or broken teeth, or even sensitive gums can make the poor thing reluctant to eat.
As a matter of fact, this goes for any other illness. If the dog is feeling any sort of discomfort, it won’t eat. It’s as simple as that.
Vaccines are a part of every healthy pet’s life. Moreover, they are necessary. They are crucial in making sure our furry friends avoid a whole host of diseases, both chronic and acute.
However, some of the vaccines can cause a temporary change immediately afterward. The cocktail the dog has received will need some time to settle in their organism. As a result, the overall loss of appetite is a highly common effect.
Fortunately, it’s temporary, and a small price to pay for the well-being of your dog. In the long run, the advantages of having your dog vaccinated outweigh the disadvantages.
5. Personality and Preferences
No two dogs are the same, just as no two humans are the same. Each comes with an array of preferences and personality quirks. Not to worry, however - the more time you spend with your dog, the better you will get to know exactly what it needs.
Depending on your dog’s size, it is worth keeping in mind the height at which you keep their bowl. For instance, the bowl height may just be at an uncomfortable level. That in itself is reason enough for them to get their food elsewhere, or not eat at all. Fortunately, there are plenty of useful products you can find to accommodate your dog’s needs.
Uncomfortable surroundings are another thing to take note of. If your dog is a quiet, unassuming type, they will prefer similar environments. Be careful where you put the bowl. In general, loud places with a lot of traffic can be highly distracting.
Similarly, dogs can be fussy about company. Some won’t eat unless you or another family member is with them. Conversely, other dogs just prefer to have their meal alone. This goes especially for other animals. If there is another dog or cat around, they may feel threatened and discouraged from eating comfortably.
How Can You Help?
1. Introduce Variety
You wouldn’t want to eat macaroni and cheese every day for the rest of your life, would you?
Though some may argue that it doesn’t matter if a dog likes or dislikes what it eats, the truth is that the dog’s preferences have a huge impact on its diet. Introducing more diversity to their daily meals can seriously improve their nutrition.
Keep a close eye on how your dog behaves upon being given a certain food. Does it scoff it down, barely chewing? Or does it take its time, eating with a little less zeal expected from a dog? This is a significant indicator of what type of food it prefers.
2. Reduce Treats
Certain treats are very high in calories and can fool your dog into thinking it’s full. They can make it go a while without eating anything concrete. The truth is, treats don’t have enough nutritional value and cannot hope to replace a well-rounded meal.
Try to reserve the treats for special occasions in order to avoid reinforcing negative eating habits.
3. Schedule Feeding Times
Stability is healthy.
To prevent your dog from going some time without eating, add more certainty to its feeding times. Establish a consistent schedule you will both strictly keep to. Of course, it’s understandable if your own life is somewhat unpredictable, but having at least one meal a day at the same time every day can do wonders.
In that case, your dog won’t have to wonder when it will eat next. It will know when to expect food and look forward to its meals instead.
4. Create a Safe Environment
This is especially important if you and your family have just moved.
Give your dog some time to get used to the new surroundings. Help it familiarize itself with all the new places it can go. Additionally, you can even make a show of feeding it the first few times, just so it quickly memorizes where its bowls are.
Please ensure that the surroundings are not disruptive or uncomfortable. The dog needs to feel safe. If it begins to connect stress with eating time, it will soon start to avoid eating.
5. Visit a Veterinarian
Depending on how long your dog went without eating, you may need to take it to the vet.
As previously mentioned, you don’t necessarily have reasons for concern if it has only been a day. Two or more days, however, and you should start looking into it.
Visiting a vet is the safest, most productive option. There, you can get all the advice you need from a professional. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay close attention to your dog’s behavior. After all, the vet will need the rundown in order to give you the best treatment they can.
You can also expect the vet to take samples and run some tests on your dog. It is always better to be able to exclude potential illnesses, and these tests will help with that.
There are many different ways to interpret your pet’s intentions and desires. Start from yourself and note your own reactions to discomfort - your pets aren’t too different, they simply have their own ways of expressing what they need.
Keeping track of the dog’s everyday habits, including nutrition and how long a dog can go without eating, can teach you the rest of what you need to know.