How long can a dog go without eating? | How to Get a Sick Dog to Eat?


When a dog is sick, they, like people, lose their appetite. As a result, a sick dog may refuse to eat. It’s usually not a big deal if you skip one meal. However, if your dog continues to avoid food, you should investigate the cause, see if they are exhibiting any other warning signs, and start urging them to eat using the methods in this article.

What Causes a Dog’s Appetite to Fail?

The following are the most prevalent causes of a dog’s loss of appetite:

  • Illness
  • Infection
  • Disease
  • Getting well after surgery
  • Experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one
  • Aging
  • Stress

How to get a sick dog to eat?

dog won't eat

There are a variety of approaches you may use to persuade your dog to eat. Depending on your dog, the optimal technique will be determined. If the first approach doesn’t work, try a different one until you discover one that works for both you and your dog.

If your dog refuses to eat, the first thing you should do is give them some time. Dogs are capable of going for days without eating. Just make sure they’re getting enough water. It is natural for a dog to refuse a meal every now and then. Dogs, like us, do not constantly need to eat. You may leave your dog’s food available for them to nibble on whenever they get hungry throughout the day.

Make use of a syringe

Force-feeding using a syringe is a more severe procedure that should only be used if all other options have failed. If your dog hasn’t eaten in two days, try feeding him liquids like broth or watered-down wet food using a syringe. If your veterinarian has prescribed medication for your dog, you can give it to him with a syringe along with food.

Before doing this, we recommend consulting with a veterinarian since syringe feeding must be done carefully to avoid harmful health consequences on your cat.

Boost Your Dog’s Appetite

If your dog has been refusing food for a long time or has a health issue that causes them to lose its appetite, your veterinarian can prescribe or recommend a medical appetite stimulant. There are stimulants that help your dog feel better and others that imitate the hormone that makes him hungry. This approach will need you and your veterinarian first determining why your dog isn’t eating so that the proper stimulant may be administered.

Give a Treat to Your Dog

If your dog isn’t feeling well, you might give him or her food that they don’t typically get. Human food, such as chicken, or even baby food, maybe so appealing to your dog that he will eat anything. To check whether they will eat, start with a tiny bit of human food. If it doesn’t work, try adding a little more.

To encourage them to consume their regular diet as well as the reward, mix it in with their existing dry food. Just be careful not to overfeed your dog with these goodies, since this may be harmful to their health.

Change the brands of dry foods

If you’re having trouble persuading your dog to consume dry food, try a different brand. Try a trial pack from your local pet store to discover whether your dog prefers a different brand to the one you’ve been using. Alternatively, you may add some wet food to the mix, which may pique your dog’s interest more than the dry food.

Warm Your Dog’s Food

The scent and palatability of your dog’s food improve when it is heated. Sick dogs’ senses of smell and taste will be impaired. Food that has been warmed up may have a more enticing aroma, which may encourage your dog to consume it. This will also improve your dog’s flavor, encouraging him to eat more after the first mouthful.

Broth can be added to your dog’s food

Adding heated broth to your dog’s meal improves not just the scent but also the palatability (as will simply heating up their existing food). The addition of broth enhances the taste. If your dog isn’t used to eating broth and has gotten dissatisfied with their present diet, broth might be just what they need to get them to eat again.

Feed your dog by hand

Try hand-feeding your dog separate bits of his or her food. This can aid a dog who isn’t feeling well by soothing him and encouraging him to eat. This procedure may take some time to complete, but once you’ve hand-fed your dog a couple of pieces, they should start eating out of their dish.

Any medication should come with instructions

Some medicines might cause a dog’s appetite to be suppressed. This might be the case if your dog is on antibiotics or any other medicine. Before giving your dog food, make sure you read all of the directions thoroughly and wait at least fifteen minutes. By waiting, you can guarantee that the drug has reached your dog’s stomach and is thoroughly coated before he eats.

Let Your Dog Eat Grass

If your dog refuses to eat its regular food but insists on eating grass, you should allow them. It’s possible that eating grass will make your dog puke, which might be a good thing. Your dog’s instincts may be driving it to eat grass if whatever is making him sick may be relieved by vomiting. Just make sure your dog is well hydrated. However, if your dog vomits more than twice or eats grass every time they go outdoors, you should take them to the veterinarian.

Visit the Dog’s vet

If your dog is ill and won’t eat, it’s always a good idea to take him to the doctor. Your veterinarian can help you figure out what’s wrong with your dog and how to make them feel better. Your veterinarian may also ensure that your dog receives whatever drugs it needs, whether to treat the sickness or to stimulate eating.

What to feed a sick dog

When dogs are ill, some meals are more appealing than others. If your dog isn’t feeling well, there are certain meals that are more appealing and easier on the stomach that you may try feeding them.

Broth of Bones

Bone broth is a moderate, nutrient-dense soup that soothes an upset stomach. Bone broth might be an excellent method to provide your dog the nutrients they need if they haven’t been eating and have a repressed appetite.

Food That’s Wet

Try introducing wet food to your dog if he eats dry food routinely. Wet food is a popular treat among many dogs. Furthermore, due to its increased water content, wet food can aid in keeping your dog hydrated.

Baby food

Dogs might like baby food since it is easy to eat. It’s also possible to eat it. Look for meat-based infant meals that are free of onions and garlic. Good alternatives are chicken, lamb, or turkey.


Pumpkin is beneficial to your dog’s digestive system. It’s high in fiber and includes a variety of vitamins, including iron, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and others. Feed your dog four teaspoons of canned pumpkin that hasn’t been seasoned. Pumpkin pie filling should not be fed to your dog since the sugars and seasonings in it may irritate his tummy even more.

Broth made with chicken

Not only will your dog like the chicken broth, but it will also settle well in his stomach. If you’re experiencing a loss of appetite due to an upset stomach, this is a nice dish to try.

Chicken Shredded

Shredded chicken is easy to consume for dogs with upset stomachs and maybe a powerful motivator to get your dog to eat. Chicken is a favorite of dogs, and as long as it’s unseasoned (seasonings might aggravate a dog’s stomach) and chopped into tiny enough pieces, it’s a decent alternative.

Rice and Chicken

The majority of dog meals have chicken and rice as components. If you don’t season it and use white rice, it’s bland enough to soothe an upset stomach. Make sure the chicken is fully cooked (by boiling it) and that the pieces are small enough for your dog to consume.

What Are My Dog’s Healthiest Foods?

Dog meals are intended to provide your dog with the nutrition it needs, but there are certain ‘human’ foods that are also beneficial to dogs. Here are a few healthier alternatives:

  • Cooked eggs include calcium, antioxidants, protein, and a variety of vitamins.
  • Omega-3s are also beneficial to the health of a dog’s joints.
  • Mushrooms are high in vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your dog.

Before adding any new items to their diet, you should speak with your veterinarian.

Dog not eating but drinking water

You may be so concentrated on food consumption that you neglect to drink enough water. However, water consumption is perhaps more essential than food consumption. In the meanwhile, if your dog refuses to eat, you should encourage them to drink water to keep them hydrated.

Dogs can survive longer without meals than humans, but their tolerance for not drinking water is considerably lower. A dog can only spend three days without drinking water but may go five to seven days or longer without eating. Realistically, you don’t want to push your dog’s boundaries, but forcing him to drink can lead to aspiration pneumonia.

If your dog hasn’t eaten or drunk in 48 hours or longer, it’s critical to get medical help as soon as possible.

How to Encourage Water Intake

If your dog has lost interest in water, try the following methods to entice them to drink again:

  • Allow your dog to lick an ice cube.
  • Spritz your fingertips with water.
  • If your veterinarian suggests it, give Pedialyte.
  • Fill your dog’s water bowl with ice.

Dehydration Symptoms

Keep an eye out for any indications of dehydration in your dog. The following are the most frequent dehydration signs to be aware of:

  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Skin elasticity declines
  • Gums that are dry and sticky
  • Dry nose
  • Eyes that appear to be dry

If your pet is displaying signs of dehydration, get them to the veterinarian right once. Your veterinarian can give them subcutaneous fluids to help them stay hydrated while simultaneously addressing the underlying cause of their illness.

What You Shouldn’t Feed Your Dog

If your dog is ill, don’t overfeed them. Dogs can become ill if they consume too many rich meals; if you frequently treat your dog and offer it human food, you should reduce the number of goodies you give them.

It’s also possible that your dog is sick as a result of anything they ate earlier. If your dog has already become ill, make sure they haven’t been exposed to any of the following:

  • There is a risk of parasites in raw fish or meat.
  • It can cause your dog’s stomach to rise or induce alcohol poisoning if you feed it uncooked yeast dough.
  • Fat trimmings in dogs might result in pancreatitis.
  • Spices, baking powder, and baking soda are all potentially harmful to dogs.
  • Xylitol may result in a decrease in blood sugar as well as liver failure.
  • Avocado seeds can block your intestines, and the avocado itself can make you sick.
  • Raisins or grapes have the potential to induce renal failure.
  • CaffeineIt’s potentially deadly.
  • Garlic or onions It has the potential to induce anemia or poisoning.
  • Alcohol can induce nausea, vomiting, and breathing difficulties, as well as death.
  • Bones can shatter and damage your dog’s digestive system, causing choking.
  • Milk and other dairy products can induce diarrhea and other digestive issues.
  • Human medication has the ability to cause sickness and death in humans.
  • Chocolate has the potential to induce vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.
  • Sugary meals can lead to obesity and diabetes.
  • Fruits with Pits or Seeds Seeds and pits can cause digestive issues in dogs and are potentially toxic.
  • Salt A dog can become dehydrated if it consumes too much salt.
  • Macadamia Nuts: It can induce muscular tremors, vomiting, and other unpleasant side effects.
  • Salmonella or E.coli can be found in raw eggs.

When Is It Time to Call Your Vet?

If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible for an examination and possible testing:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of weight
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Gagging
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing


How long can dogs go without food?

Dogs can survive three to five days without eating, although this is not recommended. If you haven’t already, call a veterinarian if your dog has gone two days without eating.

Drinking water is more essential than what your dog eats. If you can’t get your dog to eat, try persuading him to drink water (without coercion).

When Is It Not Appropriate to Feed your Sick Dog?

If your dog has been vomiting or has diarrhea, you should try to feed it again at least twelve hours after the previous incident. If you feed your dog too soon after it has been vomiting, the food may upset its stomach again, causing it to vomit much more. Take your dog to the vet if the vomiting or diarrhea lasts longer than two days.

How Much Should your Sick Dog Be Fed?

The amount of food you should give your sick dog varies depending on the dog and the type of illness. Consult your veterinarian to ensure you’re feeding your dog appropriately, but also listen to your dog. If your dog eats some but then refuses to eat again, give it a few minutes before trying again.

Is It True That Sick Dogs Lose Their Smell Sense?

The smell is the most strong of a dog’s senses, and it may be influenced by a variety of circumstances. Allergies and illnesses, as well as old age, can impair one’s sense of smell. The sense of smell of a dog might be harmed if the nose is dry. However, illness does not always have an impact on it.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do to Help your Dog?

Ascertain that your dog is at ease. Ascertain that they have a comfy bed to sleep in. If your dog is feeling up to it, take them for a stroll. Also, don’t show your anxiety to your dog; dogs can sense human emotions and will get anxious if you are.

Should I give my dog food after they puke?

After your dog has puked, it is advisable to keep them from eating for a few hours. This gives you time to study your dog’s behavior and determine if they are exhibiting any other troubling signs or if they are still vomiting.

Even if your dog has vomited, make sure he has access to freshwater.

Should a Sick Dog Be Force-Fed?

If your dog hasn’t eaten in more than 48 hours, you can force-feed him using a syringe. Only do this if your veterinarian has evaluated your pet and concluded that force-feeding is safe. Make sure you understand how to force-feed your pet in a safe manner. During an examination, your veterinarian will be able to show you how to accomplish this.

After 48 Hours, What Should You Do?

If your dog is still rejecting food after 48 hours, you should seek medical attention right once. Before your pet’s health worsens, a skilled team of veterinary specialists can identify and treat them.

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