How Long Can a Dog Go without Eating?

There are factors that need to be taken into account to answer this question with any accuracy.

The first thought that comes to mind is why anyone would want to know this, and let’s hope that it’s because of curiosity surrounding a pet that’s ill and won’t eat and not for other what would be considered cruel reasons.

How Long Can a Dog Go without Eating

It is not advised to leave your pet without access to food and water. Just like human children our doggy family members rely on us for care so don’t let them down.

Like with us humans there are factors that can affect our longevity when we stop eating, and the same can be said for animals including our K-9 companions.

Things like:

  • Health before the loss of food consumption.
  • The beginning weight of the dog.
  • How active the dog is.
  • The caloric intake of the last meal consumed.
  • Does the dog have access to fresh water?
  • Age of the dog.
  • The size and breed of the dog.
  • Ambient temperature.

There are other factors as well, but these will be major factors in determining how long our doggy friend can survive without food.

Dogs Need Food for Fuel

Just like us our dog friends need to consume food as fuel, and they digest food at a higher rate than we do. In fact, a dog ages faster than their human companions due to a much higher metabolic rate. Have you ever put your hand on your pup’s chest and felt their heart rate? Probably considerably faster than yours.

Dogs Need Food for Fuel

Going a couple of days without food most likely will not harm a healthy dog as their direct relative the Wolf hunts daily but eats about every third day. Now some differences apply in that a wolf will eat all that it can in that meal where we monitor and control the amount of food our pet consumes per meal, so keep that in mind. The amount of food consumed in a meal will relate to how long they can be comfortable without eating again.

Just because your dog can survive for a few days without food doesn’t mean it wants to go without food for any length of time. You should always provide your pet with food daily.

Health and Weight of the dog

These two factors are major players in determining how long your dog could survive without food. Think about this in terms of our rate of descent from starvation. The more stored fat that a k-9 has available for use as fuel when food is scarce will directly affect how long the animal can survive without an incoming source of food. An already emaciated dog will not last as long as a chubby one.

Health also plays a key role. A sick dog who is already struggling with the quality of life will succumb to lack of food much quicker than a healthy dog. A sick or injured dog might not be able to digest food even if it were available and this can directly link to the longevity of your dog especially if food were unavailable.

How Active is Your Dog?

Is your dog going to need to run, bark and protect your home or yard? Or is your dog going to lay around inside the home on a soft bed without any regular stimulation?

Like humans, dogs require different caloric intake dependant on how many calories they need to burn during their day. You can’t sit on the couch all day doing nothing and eat the same amount of calories as a person who regularly exercises and has an active daily routine, well you could, but you’d probably become overweight very quickly and so will your dog.

How Active is Your Dog

So if your dog is going to be without food for any length of time, it would probably last longer if its activity level were low even in the beginning. A dog will become less active as the onset of hunger kicks in as a person does, and this prolonged resting is to conserve calories to prolong life.

How Old is Your Dog?

Age like health plays a direct roll in the length of time a dog can survive without food. An older dog may already have a little extra weight around the middle from a slowdown in daily activity. This may provide some extra time for them if food becomes scarce.

However, keep in mind although they might have extra weight to shed they may also have an underlying health condition that will cause them to succumb to a lack of food much quicker than a younger dog would.

A young puppy will not last long without a steady food supply as their metabolism is fast and furious. If for any reason your dog stops eating, please call a Vet immediately hesitation could cot your pet their life no matter the dog’s age.

Does the Dog Have Access to Fresh Water?

If a dog has no water source, you won’t need to worry about how long they can live without food. Like us, your K-9 needs water to live. A human can go an average of three days without water before we suffer severe health issues and death, and this is true for your dog as well anything after three days will not bode well for your dog. Your pet is smaller than you with a faster metabolism they won’t last long without water.

Dog Have Access to Fresh Water

They also may have the weather affecting how quickly the dehydrate if your dog is outside the heat and cold will directly affect how long they can survive without food and really affect how long they last without water.

Don’t leave your pet outside without regularly checking to see that they have access to fresh water and food; they can’t do it themselves; they need your attention and care to thrive.

How Much Food Did They Eat Before Food Became Unavailable?

A dog that consumed a very large meal will have access to more calories than a dog who ate a small or portion controlled meal. You don’t run a marathon on an empty fuel tank. The same aspect applies here a dog will have extra time on this earth directly related to the last meal it consumed.

Digestion will take several hours and like their relative the wolf they may tend to sleep a bit after consuming a large meal, and this will help the calories consumed last longer.

The Size and Breed of the Dog

This is relative to the length of time a dog can survive without food because of the metabolic rate. A large dog burns through a smaller amount of calories than does a small or toy breed

I know that this seems almost against common sense, but little dogs require more constant food supply due in part to the size of their stomachs. If you can only intake a small amount at a time, you will need to feed more often, and little dogs digest and metabolize food at a higher rate than do large dogs.

Think about you trying to keep up with another person while walking and that person has legs twice as long as yours, you be all but running to keep up with them.

This is the same for small breed dogs, and the breed will play a part as well. Some small dogs are working dogs and tend to naturally be more active than other breeds of small or toy pups that spend a great deal of time sleeping or being carried around by humans.

The breed of dog will also affect the animal’s metabolism and will relate to how long they can sustain life without food. Working class dogs of any size will have a higher need for constant caloric intake than those of the couch-potato variety.

Their resting metabolic rates will be different as will their need for calories. Kind of like someone who physically works outside every day vs. someone who sits in the office all day require different amounts of calories to sustain healthy body weight. Tip the scale either way, and the results could become catastrophic pretty quickly.

Ambient Temperature

We touched on this before, but it is a key factor that needs a bit of space dedicated to its relevance to the topic.

Ambient or room/space temperature effects dogs a lot as it affects us in that we do not need to consume as many calories in hot weather as we do in cold weather.

Your dog will require more calories in the cold to help maintain body temperature just like we do. If you can feel the cold outside so can your dog, and if they don’t have a place to get warm, they will require more calories from their food to help keep warm. Always make sure your pet has a refuge from the cold.

The same thing happens in the heat, and you may see this in your dog may leave food in the dish and not seem as hungry in the summertime especially a dog that is kept outside in the heat. Take the time to make sure your pet can get out of the heat and into the shade to cool off.

To Sum It Up

You should know that your pet needs a regular supply of food from all of the discussions above, and at no time should you leave your dog without food for any length of time that would be cruel. If your dog stops eating don’t hesitate in taking them to the Vet for immediate intervention it could be a life or death situation.

Your dog may be able to survive without food for a week or better but it doesn’t want to do this and a lack of food for this period of time could cause health-related problems for the dog if they survive,

Always remember that having a dog is like having a luxury item they are not a requirement they are a selected addition to your life so you should treat them well.

Be the dog owner that goes above and beyond for your K-9 they will be happier for it and so will you.

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