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How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food?

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food?

Did you ever wonder: How long can a dog go without food? The answer is pretty simple. Mature dogs with normal weight can do without food for between 5 and 7 days. Young puppies, on the other hand, survive only about 48 hours without food. In addition, the exact time period depends massively on the body fat percentage and the activity level.

Severely overweight dogs, on the other hand, can also survive for up to 3 weeks without eating. On the other hand, dogs can only do without water for a maximum of 2-3 days.

The following factors are responsible for this large deviation:

Body fat percentage

Basically, the more body fat your dog has, the longer he can go without food. Because fat is nothing more than stored energy.

This also explains why the Scot named “Angus Barbieri” was able to fast for a whole 382 days at a time. Because at the start of his Lent, he weighed a whole 207 kg.

Within these 382 days, he not only lost 125 kg of body weight, but also numerous health concerns disappeared.

Activity level

The daily calorie requirement of dogs consists of the basic requirement and the activity factor. By the way, this is the same for people.

Very active dogs, pregnant dogs and dogs in growth need around twice as many calories as lazy and inactive four-legged friends.


Sick and weakened dogs can survive much shorter without food than completely healthy conspecifics. Therefore how long can a dog go without food depends on his general health.

How exactly hunger manifests itself in dogs also depends on the respective duration.

1-2 days without food

In the first 10-12 hours without food, there should be no negative effects in healthy dogs.

In the next 12-48 hours, however, hunger will steadily increase. Typical symptoms are:

  1. Physical restlessness
  2. Bad breath
  3. Whining
  4. Lethargy

During this time, the body first uses the energy in the blood (“blood sugar”) and then the stored carbohydrates (“glycogen stores”).

In the case of very young puppies, 48 hours without food can also be life-threatening. The same applies to pregnant dogs.

Some people may forget to feed their pets for 12-24. If this is a concern for you, consider an automatic food dispenser.

3-4 days without food

In the following 2 days, the feeling of hunger is steadily increasing. In addition to the above symptoms, other include:

  1. Lack of energy
  2. Irritability and aggressiveness
  3. Slowed metabolism
  4. Muscle breakdown

During this time, the dog’s body mainly uses the stored fat reserves. Because 1 kilogram of fat delivers around 7,700 kcal.

For comparison: A dog weighing 20 kilograms needs around 1,100 kcal daily. If you are overweight by one kilogram, he can therefore survive for about 7 days longer.

Important: If your dog refuses to eat for more than 48 hours without recognizable reason, visit the vet as soon as possible.

5-7 days without food

During this time, the remaining fat reserves are used up. When these are over, organ damage can occur or even end in death.

Dogs are still 99.9% genetically identical to wolves. This also explains why they always try to suppress hunger and suffering.

The reasons? Weak-looking wolves are not only the target of other predators, but are also repelled more often to protect the pack.

For evolutionary reasons, you hardly notice dogs when they are on the verge of starvation. This applies even if your body is already very emaciated.

By the way, severely overweight dogs may be able to do without food for up to 3 weeks, as they have more fat in their body.

Other reasons

In most cases dogs will refuse to eat because there is something going on in their body. If your dog voluntarily refuses eating, then there are usually the following reasons behind it:

  1. Gastrointestinal complaints
  2. Allergies
  3. Anxiety, stress and depression
  4. Parasites
  5. Medicines and vaccinations
  6. Hormone disorders
  7. Inflammation and fungal diseases
  8. Autoimmune diseases
  9. Toothache
My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.