Food! We love it, our pets love it, and puppies, especially, love to eat! Let’s talk more about puppy digestion and how long a puppy can go without eating.
How Long can a Newborn Puppy Survive Without Food?
As soon as a puppy is born, he is promptly given a bath before dinner. A newborn puppy is born blind and immobile, but this won’t deter him from finding a meal.
Eating is crucial for a newborn puppy as his body and organs are developing. Food provides energy to newborn puppies that keep them warm.
In some emergency cases, the puppy can go for several hours after birth without eating. They survive this scenario as they still retain nutrients from the placenta.
However, for a normal newborn pup, fasting for 2 hours between meals is quite common. The mother dog needs to take breaks from feeding, and the puppy needs time to digest and sleep, of course.
This type of feeding schedule is appropriate until 3 weeks of age.
How Long can a Puppy Survive Without Food?
The length of time between feedings strongly depends on the puppy’s age. A dog’s appetite increases as they age.
At three weeks, young puppies can sustain up to 3 hours between feeding on their mother’s milk. After 4 weeks, most puppies can sustain it up to 4-5 hours. However, this is not recommended as a new puppy is still in his critical developmental stages.
Withholding puppy food from your young pups may cause them to go ravenously hungry. Frequent bouts of hunger may cause organ failure among young pups and even on adult dogs.
At 4 weeks, you can start introducing watered-down puppy kibble to his food intake. At four weeks, your puppy starts becoming more mobile. He needs extra calories and enough food for all the energy that is to come!
At about this age, slowly introduce your puppy to puppy food. Start feeding him softened kibble. Consult with the local vet on what is best for your pup, depending on his size and breed. It is also about the same time your pup will seldom nurse on the mother dog as he self-weans.
Over time, transition your dog to solid food. By about 8 weeks, Mom will have had enough nursing. At this time, your puppy should almost be completely on a dry food or puppy kibble diet.
He should be on a consistent diet, eating 3 or 4 times per day. It is recommended to keep the diet at regular intervals to avoid any upset stomach and other digestive system problems. When this happens, immediately seek medical help or visit the vet. Missed meals will be until about 12 weeks of age, unless sleeping, which we will cover later.
How Long can a Puppy Survive Without Water?
Water is essential to life and growth for all living beings. Fortunately, puppies receive the majority of their water intake through milk or formula for the first 4 weeks.
After 4 weeks, they will start to drink enough water through watered-down kibble and access to mom’s bowls. Most dogs can survive 2 or 3 days without water before severe dehydration will wreak havoc on the body. This can potentially lead to your dog falling ill and may even cause death.
Never let it get to that point by always providing your dog clean and fresh water.
After 12 hours, the body will enter dehydration, and this strain can cause immense stress on vital organs. After 24 hours, the dehydration will continue to damage the organs. Your dogs will lose the ability to cool themselves and regulate their temperatures.
If your puppy has not drunk any water in 24 hours, it is highly recommended to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
How Long can Puppies go Without Food and Water at Night?
While it is best to set an eating schedule throughout the day, this is no different at night. This will help train your pup’s stomach to fast between meals and use up the calories he consumes.
A 2-month or older puppy can go 8 hours without food or water available overnight.
If your puppy is housebroken, it is ok to leave a bowl of water available to him overnight in case he wakes up parched, as pet owners sometimes do, too.
How Long can a Sick Puppy go Without Food?
Puppies should be kept on a stable feeding schedule to monitor their consumption and growth. This also makes it easier to see if your puppy is not eating normally or anything goes awry.
It is normal for a puppy to skip a meal occasionally, and this should not cause alarm. However, if your puppy skips more meals or goes longer than 12 hours without eating, this is a call for attention as it could indicate a severe illness like parvo.
When your older dog refuses to eat for a day, this might be a cause for concern, or this may not. Dogs can go without eating food longer than puppies. He may just be not hungry at all.
Dogs and older puppies can go for longer as they have proper fat reserves to nourish them. But a younger puppy has fewer reserves and less time to bounce back if he falls ill. In this case, if you notice that your puppy hasn’t eaten or drank anything in 12 hours, please take him to a veterinarian for a check-up.
How Long can a Dog go Without Eating?
How long a dog can go without eating would really depend on a dog’s age and health. A healthy dog can survive without dog food for up to 5 days. However, this may only be true when your dogs drink fresh water.
For older dogs who refuse food for a day, this would not be too much of a cause for alarm as long as your dog is active.
He may go without eating for some time due to some reasons like he is still full from his previous meal.
Also, dogs who drink too much water may stop eating for a while or would skip meals.
Some dogs refuse to eat upon transitioning to new dog food. As the taste may not be familiar to them, they might not feel like eating.
But for a sickly or unhealthy dog, it is best to visit the vet as there might be underlying conditions on his refusal to eat.
Should I Worry if my Puppy is Not Eating?
It is normal for healthy, active puppies to skip a meal occasionally. However, you should not worry if your puppy doesn’t eat every meal you give him immediately. It could be that he is still full from the last feedings, or he has other more important puppy business to take care of before he can settle down to eat.
If your pet is consistently skipping meals or go without food, this may be a cause for concern as his body is still developing and growing. If a puppy goes longer than 12 hours without eating or drinking, this is worrisome and could indicate a more serious illness such as Canine Parvovirus.
It is recommended to take your puppy to the vet immediately to further prevent and cure any existing health issues that may have come up.
What are the Signs of Fading Puppy Syndrome?
Puppy fading syndrome is a severe, most often fatal disease in puppies born smaller and weaker or with hidden disorders. Therefore, Mom neglects to give them ample care in favor of tending to the healthier and bigger puppies at birth.
Sudden death can happen up until 3 weeks of age, but it is most common in the first week of life, even after a few hours from seeing the outside world.
Common signs of sudden death or puppy fading syndrome are low birth weight, failure to gain weight, diarrhea and or vomiting, ignorance by mother, continual crying, and difficulty breathing.
Puppies are born with a brand new immune system, and if they fail to receive vital antibodies from the first milk after birth, colostrum, they will suffer from viruses and bacterias much more so than their peers who immediately received the vital colostrum.
If you suspect a puppy has puppy fading syndrome, it is recommended to call the veterinarian to ask for advice and treatment to save the puppy and potentially the litter.