This is a great question because it calls on a specific answer created under certain circumstances. That is, a great paragraph that addresses “not eating” in dogs from all walks of life.
“Not eating” can be a genuine ‘thing’ if a dog is skinny. All skinny dogs, IF HEALTHY, will eat encouragingly well.
What is skinny?
Answer: A body condition score of three plus or lower.
What’s a Body Condition Score?
You can determine the dogs Body Condition Score from that article and the models of the scores depicted.
What if the “not eating” dog is actually “A little heavy”?
If the Body Condition Score is a 4plus or even 5minus, or higher; not-eating is okay:
That is: IF the dog is otherwise engaged in regular behavior, interest in family goings-on.
If a dog ACTS sick, or has diarrhea or vomiting, no matter what it’s weight is: It’s probably “actually” unwell.
The following scenario is rather common among “normal weight” BCSfour to BCSfourplus dogs: These dogs, if given a “pretty-okay-tasting” dry food fed dry twice a day, may eat lightly, or even skip a meal. That’s totally normal.
When a dog is quite a bit heavier, for example a BCSfive or even BCS6 it’s VERY common for these dogs to be brewing a case of chronic “pancreatitis”
And it’s (pancreatitis) almost “for sure” if the dog is a bCS5plus over 8 years old.
All you would see is a heavy dog that occasionally, or even over a few days did NOT want to eat. This is because the “pancreas is flared up” and doesn’t cool off until the dog has fasted itself for a day or two. Coaxing these dogs to eat is to prolong a pancreatitis episode.
Some owners already know their dog has pancreatitis and recognizes the symptom of “not eating” and sometimes, “spitting up” and lets them go hungry for a day or two.
A heavy dog can EASILY skip two days of dry food fed dry without mixing anything in it. And probably should.
A skinny dog that won’t eat for a day or two is cause for concern. Especially if it’s at or over 12 years old because organ failure could be brewing.
Not-So-Fun-Fact. In 1944-1945 some jerk wanted to know how long a person and a dog could go without food before dying. They found out that a regular person and a regular dog could go 30 days without food before ANY damage occurred and that, tragically, the next 15 days without food caused serious and eventually irreversible damage.
Valuable Takeaway: Owners should not worry about a dog that doesn’t eat for two or even three days.
AS LONG AS IT ACTS “Pretty okay” and doesn’t have diarrhea or vomiting.
A skinny dog should eat “pretty well” and if it doesn’t it’s probably unwell.
A regular dog can skip one to four meals without signaling illness unless there are concurrent signs of depression, vomiting or diarrhea.
An overweight dog may skip meals due to pancreatitis (detectable with blood test) especially if the dog is over 10-11 years old.
1. Don’t ply a dog to eat. You can NOT determine if a dog is sick if it eats bacon or a hamburger because a dog will take hamburger no matter how sick it is. Then it’s too late. When someone tells my my dog hasn’t eaten it’s food in three solid days – I get concerned.
2. If the dog is at or over a BCS5 —> Count it as lucky it’s not eating because for medical and weight-loss reasons, a FAST is recommended.
3. The presence of diarrhea, depression or vomiting negate the entire content of this article: Such a pet should see a veterinarian.