How Long Can a Dog Go Without Food?

You woke up in a rush this morning.

In the process of getting ready and dashing out of the house, you forgot to refill Bingo’s food bowl.

So now you spend the better part of the day worried that he will starve.


Does this make you a bad person? You ask yourself.

Relax, it is human to err.

Forgetting to feed a pet has happened even to the best of us (by this we mean those who commit to routines like clockwork).


Which leads us to one important question;


Why would a dog go without food?

A dog will not voluntarily want to go hungry.

But there are instances in which the poor chap will be forced not to eat.

Here are some of them.


  • Change of environment – It may seem petty, but a dog would refuse to eat because of a new environment. Say you move to a new house or a new town. The furry fellow will spend the first week or month trying to adjust to the new sights and scents. He may find it hard to feed properly because of the distractive stimuli all around him.
  • Change of diet – One other reason why a dog would go without food is if the diet changes. Unlike humans, dogs can enjoy the same taste of food for years. If you introduce a new taste in their pallet, they may be wary about eating at first.
    The opposite is true as well. Introducing a delicacy that is way tastier than the original pallet will ruin your pup’s taste buds. Say he was used to kibble until you introduce an all-meat diet.
    Once you pick a diet for your dog, you have to maintain it till he becomes old. If you keep switching his meals, he will become a picky eater.
  • Digestive problems – If Bingo gets a rumbly tummy from the food he is eating, he will have reservations about eating again. This is especially true if you introduce a new diet abruptly. The furry fellow might develop pet diarrhea as he tries to adjust to the new menu.
  • Illness – Ailments can make dogs go without food for a while. It could be an infection in his stomach or sharp pain when he is chewing. An underlying disease can cause your dog to lose the energy to do anything; which includes eating.
  • Medication – Medication like antibiotics may cause your dog to lose his appetite. He may end up not eating as much as he used to. Some vaccines also cause loss of appetite in dogs.
  • Pregnancy – A pregnant dog will lose interest in food. Yes, dogs get morning sickness and mood swings during pregnancy. This will cause her to stop everything, including eating.

So if any of this is happening to your dog, how long can he go without food?

A dog can go for 5 days without eating.

In extreme cases, the poor chap may go up to 3 weeks not touching its food.

You are probably wondering;


How can a dog go for weeks without food?

In most cases, it is out of neglect by the owner.

A lot of pet shelters receive puppies or old dogs that are rescued from neglect and starvation.

Some dog owners will leave a dog behind as they move to a new house or state.

The dog is left behind to fend for itself and if help does not come sooner, the consequences are dire.

If you are truly an animal lover, never let your furry fellow go hungry for long. If this happens, the dog’s instincts kick in.


What does a dog do if it goes without food?

A dog’s instinct when it is hungry is to fend for itself.

The dog will bark and whine to alert its owner that it is hungry.

You may notice your dog running towards its feeding bowl when you approach it (because his mind tells him it is feeding time).


If food does not come, your dog will go out to find himself something to it.

This should explain some of the off-leash dogs you meet on the street.

If the dog is not able to leave the home, he will try and find food around him.

This will include eating grass to try and fill his stomach.


A hungry dog would also turn to a life of crime.

He will start stealing your food to feed himself.

If you live in a farm and rear poultry, he will kill some of the birds for food or eat their eggs.


The Takeaway

We can only draw one conclusion from all of this.

It is not good to let a dog go for long without food.

Do not wait until your dog develops a bad habit out of hunger.

Find a suitable diet for the furry fellow and create a feeding plan for him.


See Also


A pet owner who loves to share useful facts and information about a variety of animals.