How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Eating?

Are you trying to figure out how long you can go between meals for your puppy? Many puppies need to stick to a routine but sometimes we need to push meal time back a little bit to fit our busy schedule. Sometimes puppies will not eat at mealtime and we worry that they should not go so long in between feedings.

If you are wondering how long your puppy can go without eating, the quick answer is that it depends on the breed and age of your dog. Smaller and younger dogs need to eat more often than larger and older dogs.

How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Food?

How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Eating

How long your puppy can go without eating all depends on how old your puppy is. New born puppies will need to eat every 2 hours around the clock. Good thing that these feeds are usually taken care of by their mom. Once your puppy is 3 to 4 weeks old they can go about 4 to 6 hours without eating and can usually be given sold food mixed with warm water to help entice them to eat more.

A small dog should eat at least 3 to 4 times a day. Small breed puppies under 2 pounds can develop low blood sugar or Hypoglycemia from not eating as often as they should. This can be a medical emergency.

Why Is My Puppy Not Eating Or Drinking?

If your puppy is not eating or drinking, they may be sick. These are a few conditions that would cause your puppy to not want to eat or drink.


Parvovirus is a common virus seen in unvaccinated puppies. This virus causes your dog to vomit, have bloody diarrhea, and be very lethargic. Parvovirus is very contagious and may even be life-threatening. Your vet can test your dog for parvo and start your puppy on treatment for this virus.

Unfortunately, there is no one medication that will kill the virus. There are many different medications that your puppy may need to help manage its symptoms. As soon as you start to notice any signs that your puppy may have parvovirus, it would be best to take your puppy to see your vet.


Puppy commonly get parasites. They are outside in the yard, eating bugs and dog poop. These can all cause them to vomit. Your vet should check your puppy for any parasites when they are getting their puppy vaccines, and they can deworm them for any of the parasites that they may have. There are many different types of parasites, but these are the most common types of parasites that puppies can get:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworms

If you see any parasites in your puppy’s stool or if they vomit any parasites up, it would be best to take your puppy and these worms to the vet.

Picky Eaters

Some puppies are very picky eaters. This can cause them to not eat as often as they should. They may not like the food that you are feeding them. Try switching to a different protein source or even adding in a little bit of canned food to help entice your puppy to eat.


As puppies start to grow, they will start to have their teeth erupt from their gums. This can be painful when they eat. This pain can cause your puppy to not eat as much or as often as normal. If your dog is teething, you can try offering chew toys to help these teeth erupt a little quicker.


Some puppies may have anxiety, especially if they have just been taken from their mom and other siblings. This anxiety can cause your new puppy to not want to eat much. Giving them a little time, love and attention can help your dog start to eat again.

What To Do To Help My Puppy Eat And Drink More Often?

If your puppy is not wanting to eat or drink, there are a few things you can do to entice them to eat.

Offer canned food

Many puppies love to eat canned dog food and will eat canned food over their hard kibble. If your puppy does not want to eat, offering canned food for a few days or mixing a little bit of canned food with their normal diet. Usually, once your puppy starts to eat you can slowly decrease the amount of wet food that is in their diet.

Warm their food

If your dog does not want to eat, warming their food up just a few seconds in the microwave will help them to want to eat. This helps make the smells and aroma of the food come out and entice your dog to want to eat their food.

Offer human food

Some dogs will eat people’s food more than their normal food. Adding a small amount of boiled chicken or scrambled egg to their food will entice them to eat. Once your dog starts to eat again, you can slowly decrease the amount of human food that you are adding to their diet.

Switch their diet

Some dogs may not like the protein source or food that you are feeding them. If your dog is still not eating its food even though you have tried many of these tips and tricks, switching up their diet might help.

See your vet

If your dog is not eating and also does not seem well, it would be best to take them to your vet. Puppies that have not been eating for more than one day will need to see a vet. Smaller puppies who even skip a meal may need to see your vet. Very small dogs can get very sick very quickly without eating.

How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Water?

While your dog can go a few days without eating, your puppy cannot go very long without drinking water or they will quickly become dehydrated. If your dog misses a few meals, it might not be a cause for concern, but if your dog is not drinking then you should seek help immediately.

Final Thoughts

When your puppy is very young, they will depend on you for all of their food and water. Making sure that your puppy is eating and drinking like they should, will help you determine if your puppy is healthy or has an illness.

While the different ages of puppies will require different feeding times, if your puppy is going longer than their normal time, you should start to investigate what could be causing your puppy to not eat as they should. You should also try some of the tips and tricks to get your puppy back to eating.

If your puppy ever seems lethargic or sick, you should see your vet right away. The quicker your puppy receives medical attention for an illness the quicker they will recover.

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