How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating When Sick?

Every dog is different and some may be able to go without eating for longer periods than others, depending on their size, age, and overall health.

  • 24 hours – In general, a healthy dog can go without eating for about 24 hours without any major concerns. However, if your dog is already sick, it’s best to keep a close eye on them and consult with a vet if they haven’t eaten for a day.
  • 48 hours – After 48 hours without eating, it’s important to start worrying about your dog’s health. At this point, their liver will start to break down stored glycogen to keep their blood sugar levels up, which can put added stress on their already compromised system.
  • 72 hours – By the 72-hour mark, your dog is likely to be showing signs of serious illness and it’s crucial to get them to a vet as soon as possible. At this point, they’re not getting the nutrients they need to fight off the illness and their body is starting to shut down.

In the end, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our furry friends. If your dog hasn’t eaten in a while and they’re showing signs of illness, it’s time to give your vet a ring.

How long can a dog go without eating under different conditions

Keep a close eye on your dog and consult with a vet if they haven’t eaten for an extended period of time, especially if they’re showing other signs of illness.

With cancer

This one is a bit of a tricky one as it depends on the individual dog and the stage of their cancer. Some dogs with cancer may stop eating altogether, while others may only eat small amounts. If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to closely monitor their eating habits and talk to your vet if they haven’t eaten for more than 24 hours.

Drinking water

A dog can go without food for a little longer if they’re still drinking water. However, it’s still best to keep an eye on them and consult with a vet if they haven’t eaten for more than 24-48 hours, even if they’re still drinking.

Before dying

Unfortunately, a dog can only go without food for so long before it starts to take a toll on their health. Depending on the individual dog and their overall health, they may only be able to go a few days without food before it starts to impact their organ function. In some cases, dogs can go without food for a week or more, but this is relatively rare and usually accompanied by other serious health issues.


If your dog is vomiting, they may not feel like eating and could go without food for a short period. However, it’s important to keep an eye on them and take them to a vet if they haven’t eaten for more than 24 hours, as vomiting can be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.

What to feed a sick dog with no appetite

Here’s a list of what to feed a sick dog with no appetite:

Chicken and Rice

A classic for a reason, chicken and rice is a simple, easily digestible option that’s gentle on a sick dog’s tummy. It’s a good choice for dogs with stomach issues or nausea.

Boiled Eggs

Boiled eggs are a great source of protein and nutrition for dogs, and they’re easy to digest, even for dogs with a delicate digestive system.

Canned Pumpkin

A canned pumpkin is a good option for dogs with an upset stomach, as it’s high in fiber and helps regulate digestion. It can also help settle an upset stomach and encourage a dog to eat.

Wet Food

Wet food has a stronger aroma and flavor than dry food, which can be more appealing to dogs who are feeling under the weather. Additionally, it’s easier to digest, which can help them get the nutrients they need to fight off their illness.

Homemade Broth

Homemade broth made from chicken, beef, or fish is a great option for dogs with no appetite. It’s easy to digest and provides hydration, as well as some essential nutrients.

In the end, the key is to find something your dog will eat, as a sick dog that isn’t eating is a cause for concern. Offer a few different options, and be patient. With a little persistence and the right food, you can help get your furry friend back on the road to recovery in no time.

Home remedies for sick dogs not eating

Keep in mind that while these home remedies can be helpful, they should never replace proper veterinary care.

Wet food

Wet food often has a stronger scent and flavor than dry food, which can entice a sick dog to eat. Try warming it up a bit to release more of the aroma, and serve it in small, frequent meals throughout the day.

Chicken and Rice

Chicken and rice is a classic, easily digestible meal that can be great for dogs who aren’t feeling well. Just be sure to cook the chicken thoroughly to avoid any foodborne illness.

Appetite Stimulants

There are a number of over-the-counter appetite stimulants that can be used to encourage a sick dog to eat. These products often contain a blend of herbs and other natural ingredients that can help to get their appetite back on track.

Hand Feeding

If your dog is really struggling to eat on their own, you can try hand-feeding them. This can be a great way to bond with your pet and help them feel more comfortable.

A Change of Scenery

Sometimes, a change of scenery can do wonders for a sick dog’s appetite. If your dog has been feeling under the weather, try taking them for a walk or moving their bed to a different room to see if it helps.

My dog won’t eat or drink and just lays there

Remember, dogs are experts at hiding their pain, so it’s important to take their lack of appetite and energy seriously. If your dog won’t eat or drink and is just lying there, it’s time to get them to a vet for a check-up. The sooner you get them help, the better their chances of a quick recovery.

  1. Check for obvious signs of discomfort – Before you jump to conclusions, take a closer look at your dog and see if they’re showing any signs of pain or discomfort. This could include things like whining, shaking, or holding up a paw.
  2. Offer favorite foods – If your dog typically has a healthy appetite, try offering them their favorite foods or treats. If they’re not interested, it could be a sign that they’re feeling sick.
  3. Offer water – If your dog won’t drink water, try offering it to them in a different bowl or with ice cubes. Some dogs prefer moving water, so you could try offering them water from a dripping tap.
  4. Monitor their behavior – If your dog is still not eating or drinking and is just lying there, it’s time to take them to the vet. Keep a close eye on them in the meantime and let your vet know if you notice any changes in their behavior.

How to force feed a dog who won’t eat

Force-feeding is not a long-term solution, and it’s important to address the underlying issue that’s causing your dog to stop eating in the first place. If you’re having trouble getting your dog to eat, it’s always best to consult with a vet for guidance.

  1. Consult with a vet – Before trying to force-feed your dog, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to make sure it’s safe and necessary. There could be an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed, and a vet can help determine the best course of action.
  2. Choose the right food – When force-feeding your dog, it’s important to choose the right food. Soft, moist foods are easier to administer and are more palatable to dogs who are feeling unwell. Your vet may also recommend a special diet that is easier to digest.
  3. Use a feeding syringe or dropper – A feeding syringe or dropper can be used to administer small amounts of food directly into your dog’s mouth. Start with small amounts and gradually increase the amount you’re giving until you reach the recommended serving size.
  4. Encourage your dog – Try to make mealtime as pleasant as possible for your dog. Offer plenty of praise and encouragement, and try to associate mealtime with positive experiences, like playing or going for walks.
  5. Be patient – Force-feeding a dog who won’t eat can be a slow and frustrating process, but it’s important to be patient. Gradually increasing the amount of food you’re giving can help your dog get used to eating again and eventually they may start eating on their own.

In conclusion, force-feeding can be a helpful tool for getting a dog who won’t eat to start taking in the nutrients they need to get well, but it’s important to do it under the guidance of a vet and with plenty of patience and encouragement.

What is a good appetite stimulant for dogs?

With the right support, your furry friend can be back to their usual, hungry self in no time!

  1. Canna-Pet Advanced Small & Medium Dogs – This all-natural appetite stimulant contains a blend of hemp and other plant-based ingredients that can help increase your dog’s appetite and improve their overall health.
  2. NaturVet Digestive Enzymes Plus Probiotic – This supplement contains digestive enzymes, probiotics, and prebiotics to help support digestive health and stimulate your dog’s appetite.
  3. Nutri-Vet Wellness Senior Daily Vitamin Supplement – Designed specifically for older dogs, this daily supplement contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help boost their overall health and stimulate their appetite.
  4. Zesty Paws Probiotic Bites – These tasty bites contain a blend of probiotics, digestive enzymes, and prebiotics to help support digestive health and stimulate your dog’s appetite.
  5. Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers – These freeze-dried raw mixers can be added to your dog’s regular food to increase its palatability and stimulate their appetite.

Remember, it’s always best to consult with a vet before trying any new supplements or treatments for your dog. If your dog is having trouble eating, it could be a sign of a larger health issue, so it’s important to get to the bottom of what’s going on.


Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to Top