Shipping Text / Shipping Price

Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?

By Bridget Reed


Most dogs love wolfing down a bowl of food whenever they get the chance. You might have noticed your pup trying to grab a second helping off the counter or the dinner table. 

In most cases, dogs will gladly eat any food they can get their paws on. However, there are times when your dog might not feel like eating. This could indicate a more serious problem, or it could just be a temporary loss of interest. 

Depending on how long your dog’s hunger strike lasts, you may want to wait for them to eat again on their own or take them to the vet to figure out what might be affecting their appetite.

The answer depends on several factors if you’re wondering how long your dog can go without eating. Keep reading to learn how much food your dog needs, how frequently they should eat, and when their lack of appetite is a cause for concern.

How Frequently Should My Dog Eat?

There’s no rule on how much food you should give your dog regularly. Their size and activity level may impact what nutrients they require in their bowl. However, you can follow guidelines to determine if your pup is getting enough food.

First, puppies should eat regularly every couple of hours, switching from their mother’s milk to dog food. If you have a very young dog, they’ll need a regular supply of essential nutrients and protein to keep their growth on track.

As your puppy reaches the six-month mark, you can start transitioning them from three meals to two meals every day. Typically, most dogs will continue to eat two meals a day throughout their adult life. We recommend feeding your adult dog once in the morning and once in the evening. 

For serving suggestions, you can check your dog food container; it should have a helpful table informing you how much food your pup needs, based on their weight. However, these numbers are only approximate, and you may want to increase or decrease the amount given by up to 50 percent. 

If your dog is unusually active or a total couch potato, they’ll have very different nutrition requirements than average. Their size and breed also impact how much energy they’ll need. Dogs that spend a lot of time in cold weather will need more food to keep them warm, so make sure to adjust your dog’s meals accordingly.

However, this assumes your dog is happy to chow down on whatever food you provide. If your pup starts sniffing around their breakfast and decides not to take a bite, you might want to know how many meals they can skip before you should worry.

A healthy adult dog can go three to five days without eating, assuming they’re drinking plenty of water the whole time. However, it’s unusual for a dog to lose their appetite suddenly. If your pup skips more than two meals in a row, you should call your vet just to be on the safe side.

Like humans, dogs need water more regularly than food. Going a full day without water can leave your dog dangerously dehydrated, so make sure you keep an eye on their water bowl as well. You should take them to the vet immediately if they've decided to stop drinking. 

Why Isn’t My Dog Eating?

There are plenty of different factors which might cause your dog to stop eating. Some will resolve themselves in a day or two, while others require quick medical attention.

While we can’t replace the services of a qualified veterinarian, we can inform you of some of the possibilities that could decrease your dog’s appetite. Here are the most common reasons your dog might stop eating:

Dental Problems

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from quite a few mouth problems. Your dog could have developed cavities, tooth infections, or gum disease, which can be hard to detect for your average dog parent.

While your dog may continue to eat their meals and silently tolerate mouth pain, it’s also possible that they could put their foot down and stop eating entirely. If your pup is still drinking plenty of water but seems disinterested in their food bowl, it might be too painful for them to chew through kibble.

You may also notice that your dog is happy to eat wet food but turns their nose up at dry food. They may prefer wet food for the taste and rich aroma, but it’s also possible that wet food hurts less to chew than dry food.

If your dog’s eating habits suddenly change, and you think their mouth may be the culprit, you should contact your vet so they can examine your dog. They’ll be able to inform you if they find any cavities or dental issues and resolve the problem so your dog can get back to chowing down.

Stress and Anxiety

Stressful situations and new environments may cause anxiety in dogs. They’re creatures of habit and could lose their appetite when faced with a sudden, unexplained change.

Stress is especially likely to be the culprit if your dog has stopped eating during a move or in the middle of a trip to a different location. Some dogs don’t like eating outside the comfort of their own home.

If you suspect your dog’s anxiety might be causing them to lose interest in food, you can allow them some time to adapt to the new situation. Make sure you play with them, give them opportunities to rest and relax, and show them that there’s nothing to fear.

If your dog still doesn’t touch their food after several meals, you should contact a veterinarian to ensure your dog is getting the nutrition they need.


Many dogs will lose their appetite while battling a sickness. If your dog seems listless, tired, or nauseous, they may be dealing with a virus or other infective illness. They’d be tucked up in bed, eating chicken noodle soup if they were human.

Most dog foods won’t be that appealing to a very sick dog, but it’s alright for them to miss a meal or two as long as they stay hydrated. Getting enough water is vital to helping them recover, so contact your vet if you notice they’re not drinking as much as usual.

Plenty of illnesses will resolve on their own, but your dog might need medical attention if they don’t seem to be getting better. Keep an eye on their symptoms, and contact your vet if you notice excessive vomiting, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues.

Prescribed Medications

If your dog already has a medical condition, their medicine may affect their stomach. For example, antibiotics can cause stomach aches, and other medications could make your dog nauseous. Chemotherapy can also cause a decreased appetite.

If you suspect that a prescription might cause your dog to stop eating, you should let your vet know. They’ll be able to brainstorm ways to increase your dog’s appetite or switch them to an alternate medication.

Food Preferences

It’s possible that your dog simply doesn’t like the dog food in their bowl. If you switch to a new brand of dog food and your dog loses interest in eating, you can safely assume the new food has something to do with it. 

Your dog’s favorite recipe might change its ingredients, and your dog might not appreciate the swap. If you suspect that your dog’s food is putting them off, the best solution is to try a different brand of dog food. 

Also, take a peek at how you store your dog’s kibble — plastic food-safe containers can absorb the oils from kibble and go rancid. This doesn’t often cause medical concerns, but it can make the food taste stale and unappealing. If your dog still isn’t eating, it’s best to contact your vet for further guidance.

What Kind of Food Does My Dog Need?

Satisfying your dog’s nutritional needs can be as easy as grabbing the first dog food you see, but that’s not necessarily the best meal for them. 

Your pup needs nutritionally balanced and complete meals to stay healthy. By choosing dog food with high-quality ingredients, you’ll be supporting their health and simultaneously providing them with a tasty bowl of food.

Picking the best dog food for your pup might sound intimidating, but it’s not as hard as it looks. The first step is to find a food with high-quality protein as its main ingredient, like our Turkey & Rice Recipe for Adult Medium Breeds. The first ingredient is fresh turkey, which will please your dog’s taste buds and give them the energy they need to play.

The next step is to choose a food appropriate for your unique dog, whether picking a recipe for their specific life stage or breed or buying a prescription diet to help manage an illness. 

For example, when feeding your puppy, you should always choose nutritious puppy food, such as our Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe for Puppies. It contains high calcium and phosphorous levels to support muscle and bone development while providing DHA from salmon oil to support brain development.

Finally, steer clear of dog food with unnecessary ingredients. That means no artificial preservatives or colors, no unnecessary GMO products, and no filler ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy. 

At Optimeal®, we believe your dogs deserve the best meal they can get, so our dog food collection is free of all these potentially harmful additives. We use high-quality protein without poultry by-products, so you can rest easy knowing your dog is eating well.

How Can I Get My Dog Interested in Food Again?

If your dog doesn’t want to eat, there are a few things you can try to revive their interest in food. These are short-term solutions and might not work in every situation. You should contact your vet for advice if your dog still won’t touch their meal.

Here are a few ways you can try to get your dog interested in food:

  • Pour chicken broth or beef broth over your dog’s food. Adding broth will add a great aroma that could entice your dog into eating again.
  • Add some plain chicken to their food bowl. Most dogs won’t be able to resist the taste, but make sure they don’t get too used to it. They might demand chicken for all their meals in the future.
  • Reduce the number of treats. If your dog gets too many treats, they might lose interest in their regular, “boring” food.
  • Try switching up their food bowl.

Caring For Your Hungry Dog

Taking care of your dog can be both rewarding and stressful. While there’s nothing better than coming home to a happy pup, you might not love stressing over whether they’re eating enough food.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to ensure your dog gets the nutrition they need. If they stop eating for a meal or two, there’s no need to get alarmed. 

If their hunger strike lasts any longer, you should take a trip to the vet and see what might be bothering them. With any luck, your pup will soon be back to devouring their meals and wagging their tail.


How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating? A Vet Explains | The Dodo

Why Is My Dog Not Eating? | PetMD

How Much Should I Feed My Dog? | American Kennel Club

Why Won't My Dog Eat? Learn About Reasons Why Your Dog Isn't Eating | American Kennel Club

← Older Post Newer Post →

0 THOUGHTS ON “How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?” :


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