How long can a senior dog go without eating

Has it been a couple of days since your dog last had a meal and you are worried how much longer it can go without food given his age?

According to vets,  healthy senior dog can endure for up to 5 days without food. Some can even go without food for up to 7 days.  But in the case of an unhealthy dog or one with prevailing medical conditions, it shouldn’t be more than 2 days. If this happens immediately call your vet.

 So, why do dogs stop eating suddenly? 


They lack appetite due to either:

  • Medical conditions
  • Mental conditions
  • Type of food

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food When Sick?

Rejection of food is considered a sign of illness. If a dog feels sickly, it stops eating or eats a smaller amount. It also shies away from interaction in most cases.

According to one animal expert, these actions can help a dog get better sooner. It’s a way most animals deal with their ailment but only for a short time.

Rather than worrying too much, it is crucial to allow your dog not to feed instead of forcing it. There are cases where the dog’s digestive system is the problem; therefore, a lack of food could ease the discomfort.

However, there are medical conditions that can make a dog lose its appetite and go without eating. These are:

  • Infections
  • Dental problems or Gingivitis
  • Parasites
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis which is mostly found in senior and adult dogs 
  • Painful wounds
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Severe conditions which need urgent attention

Any dog suffering from these has its lack of appetite affected and can go for three to five days at most without food. They can also go water.

Can Mental Conditions Affect The Appetite Of A Dog?

 In most cases, a routine change may affect your dog mentally. All dogs like their routines, and in case of any changes, your dog would stop feeding and become upset.

Anxiety and depression are the biggest culprits of a dog’s lack of appetite.


The behavior of an anxious dog is considered to be a little more impulsive. They tend to:

  • Become violent
  • Hide
  • Try to run away persistently
  • Quivering
  • Barking and growling
  • Inserting his tail between his legs
  • Scared of going outside
  • Dislike to be touched

These anxiety signs mostly bring along a suppressed appetite. It is advisable that you take your dog to the vet. He may either give medication or advice on how best to calm your dog. Some of the suggestions may be:

  1. Having more quality time with your dog. If you travel most times and work a lot, quality time with your dog becomes limited or less. A dog develops anxiety mostly if it is disconnected from the owner for a long time.
  2. Give your dog a quiet environment. When your dog feels afraid, create some quiet space for it to go and relax.
  3. Let your dog socialize more. It will be more difficult for your dog to be familiar with the people around him if you never introduced him to his surrounding appropriately. Begin the familiarization process early enough.


A depressed dog may display symptoms such as:

  • Not being playful or active
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Unresponsive to things it once enjoyed

Some of these symptoms may arise as a result of other underlying medical conditions. A great place to start is talking to your vet about your dog’s eating habits and diet before the depression worsens. Moreover, there are medications and treatments to help your dog come around.

Can The Type Of Food Make A Dog Refuse To Eat?

When your dog is not eating though healthy, chances are very high that its the food they have a problem with. Similar to cats, dogs tend to be fussy about their food, too.

It’s normal for dogs to dislike new food formulae or get bored with the same old meal. If this is the case, gradually change the food until he is comfortable with the fresh feed.

You could also try different meals until your dog decides which one he likes and stick to it. This needs your immense patience because you could end up with a budget strain in trying to find a favorable diet for him.

The look and smell of food matter a lot. Always give your dog a fresh amount of dog meal to solve out the problem.

Parting Shot 

Sometimes senior dogs decline food for mysterious reasons. Short-term fasts are not a big deal, and more often, their appetite will just come around without your intervention.

However, as a rule of thumb, you should never allow your senior dog to go without food for longer than it should.  The more you delay, the higher the risk of your beloved Poodle shutting down for good. Always ring your vet as soon as you notice your dog is not feeding well.

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