Will A Dog Starve Itself? Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Eat (Chart)

Dogs can refuse to eat for a couple of days when they choose to do so. Dog owners love seeing their dogs eat healthily, so when they stop eating or become picky eaters it is worrisome. 

Good health is generally associated with good eating habits, so we tend to think our dogs are not okay when this happens. However, that is not always the case; healthy dogs can stop eating due to various factors discussed below. Some of these factors do not always need you to visit the vet.

Will A Dog Starve Itself?

Dogs will purposefully stop eating for a variety of reasons. The most common ones being a health or physical issue. Health issues such as gastroenteritis or injuries may cause a loss in appetite. You can give them any food, but it will be of no use if they lack the appetite to eat it. However, this does not necessarily mean that your dog is actively trying to starve itself but instead is reacting to its underlying health or physical condition.

Will A Dog Starve Itself To Death?

Dogs cannot starve themselves to death however are capable of starving to death. Underlying conditions may reduce or stop their eating, but this is not a conscious decision.

Unlike humans, dogs do not understand the concept of death and what it means to die, so they will not refuse to eat to commit suicide. Dogs have natural survival instincts, so eventually, they may give in to their hunger and eat after fasting. However, if underlying health conditions prevent them from eating, they may starve and die. 

Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Eat (With Chart)

Infographic on Reasons Why Your Dog Won't Eat And How To Get Them Eat Again

1. Medical Issues

Illness or injuries can cause a dog to lose appetite. If your dog eats regularly and isn’t a picky eater, then an underlying condition such as gingivitis may be to blame. Symptoms such as vomiting after eating and weight loss accompany those medical conditions, so monitor your dog if you suspect it might be an illness. 

2. Something Hurts

Pain or the fear of it can prevent eating. Many dog breeds are prone to mouth and/or teeth infections that lead to severe pain if not properly treated. Infections such as periodontal infections or broken teeth leave your dog in immense pain and in a condition where they cannot eat because it hurts. If your dog experiences any of these, it is best to take them to get help.

3. Picky Pups

Dogs are known to have food preferences and starve themselves if they do not like what you are feeding them. Dogs can be cunning and somewhat manipulative to their owners in an attempt to get what they want. They will not eat at all to get your attention and starve for as long as it takes you to give in. Be sure not to fall prey to these tactics.

4. Stressors

Dogs are emotional animals and are thus emotionally impacted by an array of things. Moving or constant guests can create a stressful environment for your dog. Anything that disrupts their routine life has the potential to cause stress in some dogs that they lose their appetite. Be sure to put your dogs’ food somewhere so that they can feel safe and away from significant disturbances.

5. Bad Food

If you give your dog bad food, they will most likely avoid eating it. Dogs have a sensitive nose and stomach, which allows them to pick up all sorts of scents, especially from bad food. Do not allow their food to be exposed outside for too long as bugs and debris may get inside their food and make them sick or lose their appetite. Food must be given to them in sufficient quantities that they will be able to consume and not be left to go stale.

How To Get Your Dog To Eat Again?

How To Get Your Dog To Eat Again

Increase Their Appetite

Exercise and appetite-stimulating medications are the two best ways to get your dog to eat again. Exercising is a tiresome activity that often leads to hunger; ensure that you take them on a walk or run 30 minutes to an hour before their meal.

The burning of calories should lead them to have a greater appetite. If exercise does not work, take your dog to get checked up and get prescribed medication that will artificially cause hunger and lead them to want to eat.

Create A Safe Space

Eating is a peaceful action that is done when you are comfortable. You need to ensure that your dog has a safe and comfortable place to eat where there are no disturbances to them. You, as the owner, should also give your dog space when they are eating, do not pay attention when they are eating, or they will feel encroached.

Make Their Food More Appealing

Dogs, like children, do not like food that looks or tastes bland. If your dog shows no interest in their food, consider making it more appealing by changing up a few things. Some changes include adding additives to improve taste and smell, mixing your dog’s wet and dried foods, or adding low-sodium chicken broth to their food.

Stick To A Schedule

Dogs like consistency. Getting your dog to eat again or eat what you want them to eat starts with setting an eating schedule because consistency is key. Stick to the same meal every day at the same time until they get used to it.

Continue this process even when they do not eat and remove the bowl after a while; this teaches them to take advantage of the opportunity to eat when food is presented. This method will work only if you eliminate all alternative food sources.

Do Not Allow Free Feeding

Do not allow free feeding when trying to discipline your dog’s eating habits. Eating schedules are vital but are futile if your dog is getting the food or treats they want elsewhere. Prevent anyone from feeding them at certain times or on specific days so that they can first become disciplined in their eating

Can Dogs Be Anorexic?

Dogs are prone to anorexia. This is a condition where your dog lacks sufficient nutrients due to a lack of eating or absorbing nutrients. Dogs, unlike humans, do not get self-induced anorexia because they are not actively seeking to become thin; instead, anorexia is caused by medical conditions preventing them from eating.

Will A Picky Eater Dog Starve?

Picky eater dogs may reject their food with hopes of getting a better treat. Your dog may have become accustomed to receiving tastier food from household members, which reinforces their picky habits. 

Your dog may even become manipulative in their attempt to get you to give them the food they want. Healthy dogs may hold out for three days but have been known to go up to 7 days. 

Do not fall for their tactics; when food is not consumed within 30 mins, remove it and prevent them from getting alternative food sources.

What Happens If A Dog Starves Itself?

A starving dog may puke out bile when its hunger gets severe. Dogs will not intentionally starve themselves unless there is something wrong with them or their food. If it’s their health, consult with a vet immediately to be advised of the necessary measures. 

Sometimes dogs will not eat because of pain from ulcers or sore teeth, which cause intense pain. If health is not the cause, then it could be the food. Some dogs may dislike the smell or taste of their food and refuse to eat; however, they will eventually give in to their hunger. In extreme cases, they may puke out bile and even begin to lose weight.

How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Starve Itself?

Healthy dogs may refuse to eat food for 2 to 3 days but can go for as long as seven days. Monitor your dog’s behavior during this time; if you rule out illness and injury as causes, then pay closer attention because they may be trying to communicate that they dislike the food or brand you give them. They can last for as long as they can or for as long as you can bear.


How Long Will, A Picky Dog, Go Without Eating?

Picky dogs can go for 2 to 3 days without eating. Your dog may try to manipulate you into doing things the way they want, and they may avoid their food for a few days or for as long as they do not deal with the issue. 

Can A Dog Go A Whole Day Without Eating?

Dogs can go days without food. Unlike humans, dogs do not have to constantly eat as they can store energy. In general, dogs will go for as long as two days with no food and up to 7 days on some occasions.

How Do Dogs Act When Starving?

Whining, barking, chewing out of frustration, and pacing are behaviors exhibited by dogs who may be starving. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, then give them food.

How Do I Seduce My Dog To Eat?

Change up their food. Unless it’s a medical condition, many dogs will not eat unpleasant food, so the best thing is to add ingredients to their food to enhance the taste and flavor. This is done by giving them unseasoned chicken or simply mixing chicken broth with their food.

My Dog Refuses To Eat Anything Whatsoever?

Dogs can also have food preferences. It is common for dogs to avoid food that is either bland, stale, or unpalatable. However, if your dog is a regular non-picky eater that now avoids eating, consider taking them to the vet for a checkup because it could be an underlying medical condition.

How Long Can A Fussy Dog Go Without Food?

Fussy dogs can go for several days without eating anything. Some dogs will avoid their food for 2 to 3 days and can even go one week without eating to get your attention or until you do as they please.

Do Dogs Fast Themselves?

Yes, many dogs regularly avoid eating for several days, and they will solely drink water until you change the food or mix it up. It is recommended that you help your dog fast at least once a week to cleanse their system. 


There are two primary reasons why your dog is not eating and appears to be starving itself. The first is an underlying medical condition. Infections in the mouth and stomach may cause your dog to avoid eating or lose appetite because of the immense pain they are experiencing. 

The second reason is that your dog may be a picky eater playing mind games to get you to feed them what they want to eat. Dogs have strong instincts to survive and thus will not purposely starve themselves to the point of dying. If your case is those mentioned above, take your dog to the nearest vet.


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