How Long Can a Dog Go Without Food? Water?

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Food

A common question I have often asked myself is how long can a dog go without eating. Well, dogs are amazing animals, but they aren’t superheroes.

They need to eat and drink just like we do, and if they don’t get what they need they might be in danger. Thousands of dogs die every year from starvation, and hundreds more from dehydration. This is an alarming statistic and should be enough to be sure that every owner is taking care to monitor their fur baby’s food and water intake.

Every dog needs access to a clean, cold, and fresh water source in the home. In fact, the average dog goes through one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. Depending on the activity level, age, history, and breed of your dog, this number can go up or down. Sodium intake, dry food intake, exercise, summer heat, and medications can also affect how much water your dog drinks each day.

Another question is how long can a dog go without water? Generally, dogs can go two to three days without water, but it is not recommended to leave your dog without water for even twelve hours. The lack of water can mean dire consequences for both dog and owner.

No one should ever leave their fur baby without food or water, but in some severe cases of abuse there are irreversible damages that can be found in dogs who have been without food and/or water for a substantial amount of time. It is important to note that these damages are irreversible and will leave the dog unhappy for the rest of its life, possibly suffering from diseases or growth problems.

What to Do If Your Dog is Dehydrated?

dog drinking water

Some dogs don’t know how much water they should be drinking a day instinctively. If you are worried your dog is drinking too little water, or might be dehydrated, there are a few tests you can do to check.

The first thing to try is to lift the skin at their neck and release it. If it immediately goes back into place, your dog is hydrated. If the skin is slow to mold back to the dog’s neck, that means that they are dehydrated, and you should monitor their water intake. You can also check your dog’s gums: slick and wet gums mean your dog is hydrated, dry or sticky gums mean your dog is dehydrated and you should also monitor water intake.

If your dog isn’t getting enough water, you can give them small incentives when they drink, such as a treat or verbal praise. You can also flavor a dog’s water with chicken or bone broth, which could make them curious about the smell and taste of water. If these don’t work, purchasing an automated drinking device is great to help with your dog’s water intake, as you won’t have to continually fill the water bowl.

What to Do if Your Dog Hasn’t Had Enough Food?

dog waiting for food

Dogs are also prone to danger when they aren’t being fed enough or are being overfed. Dogs can last up to four days, as long as they are still drinking water. Additionally, this can change drastically if the temperature is high or the dog is hyper-active, regardless of health. If your dog has not been eating for 48 hours, you should take them to the vet immediately as there is a high risk of danger to your dog.

If your dog is not taking in the necessary nutrient components that it needs to provide energy and build tissues in the body, then the physiologic processes of the body will be affected negatively. Dogs typically stop eating due to three different reasons: health issues (such as nausea, Parvo, or vaccinations), picky eating (changes in food, or no change in food), and changes in lifestyle (moving, new pets, new family). 

When you realize that your dog is refusing to eat, or isn’t eating enough, you should check on the three reasons listed previously. You should also make sure that the bowl where you serve food is clean, there is nothing near the food that is making your dog nervous, the dog isn’t full, and make sure the dog isn’t dehydrated. After checking all of these things, take your dog to the vet, as there might be a medical concern.

Dogs should never be left without food or water. Sadly, in some severe cases, they are. It’s important for pet owners to be aware of what and how much their animals are eating and drinking, so that they can notice unusual behaviors and possible side effects.

Dogs are evolutionarily built to hide symptoms of sickness or weakness, as being a weak link in a pack can lead to isolation or becoming prey. This trait has been carried through generations and is still present today. Not being able to see sickness clearly in your dog, in addition to possible harm to internal bodily functions, should be plenty of reason to make sure your dog is eating and drinking, and that they are doing so in a healthy amount.

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