How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Eating

How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Eating?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Ideally, a newborn puppy would be fed by its mother within minutes of birth and would spend its first two to three weeks sleeping and eating. During the first three weeks of life, puppies need to be fed every two to three hours.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Eating?“.

Puppy puppies are among the cutest things in the world because they are so vulnerable.

How Long Can A Puppy Go Without Eating

When something is vulnerable we worry more about it.

Can puppies go all night without water? I have already written an article answering that question.

How often a puppy eats can also be a cause for concern.

When puppies are born they are completely blind. 

In a few minutes after being born a puppy would have found one of its mothers nipples by using its sense of smell alone. 

Its also important to remember that they cannot walk or stand- they get where they need to be by crawling and sheer determination. 

However what happens if things do not go according to plan?

Could it be that a puppy misses a meal or two in the first few weeks of its life or appears less healthy than some of its littermates? 

Let me start by pointing out just how vulnerable these babies are.

How long can a newborn puppy go without eating?

Ideally a newborn puppy would be fed by its mother within minutes of birth and would spend its first two to three weeks sleeping and eating. 

Newborn puppies can survive without food for a few hours after birth which is quite surprising. However they will still receive nutrients from the uterus. 

However a newborn pup needs to stay warm and this is especially important immediately after birth since newborns are unable to control their own body temperatures- and they normally get warmth from lying on or sucking on their mothers. 

It is more likely for a newborn puppy to become infected the longer it goes without eating. 

During the first three weeks of life puppies need to be fed every two to three hours.

We’ll see how long a puppy can go without eating week by week.

How long can two-week-old puppies go without eating?

I am referring to puppies between the ages of 8 and 14.

If all goes well these puppies are getting all of their nutrition from their mothers.

They will feed approximately every three hours.

Another key indicator is that their eyes should be opening this week and that they are trying to stand up on their own.

How long can three-week-old puppies go without food?

In this context I mean puppies between the ages of 15 days and 21 days.

At the end of the week most puppies will be ready to transition to puppy kibble (watered down with warm water).

Puppies demand food every four to five hours from their mother.

You should not let them go longer than 5 hours between feedings.

For a short period of time they can survive without food

The whelps are starting to get lively- they walk around their whelping box with more confidence each day.

How long can four-week-old puppies live without eating?

By this age I mean puppies between 22 days and 28 days of age.

A majority of puppies should feel comfortable and confident eating watered-down puppy food.

Feeding them creates a mess and chaos.

Nevertheless they will still need milk from their mother for a top-up.

Puppies should be fed every five to six hours.

In the event of an emergency they might survive between feeds for about 7 hours.

How long can five-week-old puppies live without eating?

Their intake of “dry food” will increase and their consumption of milk from their mother will decrease this week.

Feed your puppies every 6 to 8 hours with kibble and warm water.

The puppies who are five weeks old have a real swagger and robustness about them.

While they can survive for a couple of hours longer between feeds it is not ideal.

How long can six-week-old puppies go without feeding?

It hasnot changed for a six-week-old puppys feeding schedule.

They can survive for a little longer without eating if they are fed every five or six hours.

All of this is difficult because puppies can survive without food for longer if they have access to water at this age.

Leaving puppies unattended with water in a bowl is a recipe for disaster because it turns into something else to play with.

How long can a 7-week old puppy go without eating?

A puppy that is seven weeks old is a completely different animal than a pup that is only a week old.

Though some puppies will try to feed on their mothers any self-respecting mother will tell them “no” as they can get everything they need from dry or wet puppy food by this age.

A dog should be fed between three and four times a day and the amount will vary based on his breed. 

We use a very good quality dry kibble for our puppies who are 7 weeks old to which a little warm water is added to make it nice and soft.

The chaos of feeding a litter of puppies that is 7 weeks old is like a circus.

The food is put on a couple of plates so that each puppy gets to eat and while you are getting it ready the puppies are yelping with excitement. 

The puppies will race to one plate when you put it down so you will need to move them around. 

What a mess they make! 

A 7-week old puppy is also capable of maintaining their own body temperature and they spend far less time sleeping and much more time exploring their world.

Although they sleep a lot they will suddenly just stop and fall asleep wherever they are which is hilarious to watch. 

How long can a 12-week old puppy go without eating?

Puppy over 12 weeks old should still be fed three or four times a day if possible.

The amount of food they were eating when they were seven weeks old would have increased dramatically…

Feeding them multiple times a day is necessary because they have a tiny stomach and digestive system and you do not want to overload them.

During the day you should feed your puppy several times to make their toileting easier.

When they are fed less in one sitting there will be less “waste” they will be defecating. 

By the time your puppy is 12 weeks old you will want to be giving them the best chance of going through the night without pooping.

As a puppy will not be completely continent for a few months you will want to feed him his last meal of the day by 6 pm in order for this to work.

So they have enough time to digest their food before a trip out in the garden just before bedtime. 

Can a puppy go without eating at night?

Because puppies feed every two hours they will need to feed during the night for the first three weeks of their lives.

They will continue to feed on their mother even after they have transitioned to eating solid dog food.

A lot of this occurs at night because the nighttime is so much calmer than daytime. 

It is usually in week three that you start to wean the puppies – which is the process of taking them off milk and feeding them solid food.

However puppies do not completely stop eating from their mother until they are six or seven weeks old.

At this point they are usually feeding for very short periods and a lot of that will depend on how tolerant mum is. 

As long as a puppy has eaten enough during the day it can go through the night without having to be fed. 

Older puppies are no different. 

How to wean a puppy

The puppy should be able to eat something other than milk by the age of three weeks.

In order to make this transition easy and successful there are a few things that can be done.

After this point puppies will still need to eat from their mother but it should become less frequent. 

It is not necessary for a puppy to still be receiving nourishment from its mother after seven weeks. 

If their mother is near she may be tempted to eat it all!

Donot feed them adult dog food but puppy food.

You can afford as good a quality as you can

In order to make dry kibble more attractive and soft add warm water to it.

Food should be placed on flat plates so that the puppies can easily reach it.

Ensure that all puppies can access the food by using multiple plates. 

Attempting this successfully will take days- it will be chaotic and very very messy. 

Its not uncommon for puppies to take to it immediately and require no encouragement or support.

Some puppies will need a few days and lots of encouragement before they are able to eat anything but milk. 

What does mothers milk contain?

Answering this question completely accurately is difficult. 

The only thing I can say with any certainty is that it contains everything a newborn puppy needs to survive for the first 4 weeks of life.

A 1984 study of five beagle chihuahuas’ milk found that their milk contained the following components:

  • 23% dry matter
  • 9.5% fat
  • 7.5% protein
  • 3.8% sugar
  • 146 kcal per 100g

By day nine the puppys weight must have doubled so it must have been well-nourished. 

Moreover the composition of the milk during the first couple of days is very very special since the puppies are given a real boost.

Colostrum milk contains a large dose of protein as well as elements that help boost a puppys immune system. 

Why won’t a newborn puppy eat?

Puppies can experience issues such as; 

  • Being physically unable to do so due to a poorly formed jaw or nose.  
  • Having to eat because they are already full.
  • Constipation that prevents you from eating. 
  • As a result of straying from their mother they are too cold.   

Signs that newborns are not eating enough

It can be hard to identify individuals in a litter of newborn puppies because they all look so similar and are so small.

It is important to keep a close eye on your newborn puppies when you are a good puppy parent to avoid a crisis before it happens.

You do not have to identify every puppy in the litter but you do have to be able to identify the smaller and weaker puppies and make sure that they get a proper meal from their mother. 

Put them on the nipple if that is the only way you can do it – as long as it would not totally freak out the mother. 

As the puppies grow rapidly in the first few weeks it is very normal for their weight and size to change relative to the rest of the litter. 

However there are more serious signs that placing the odd puppy directly onto a nipple will not solve the problem.

You should schedule an urgent appointment with your local vet if you notice any of these signs. 

  1. Diarrhea or vomiting
  2. The puppy is cold and has a dry nose
  3. It sleeps a lot (more than it should)
  4. Making heart-wrenching sounds when it cries

How to help a puppy that is not eating

The first thing that you should do if the newborn does not seem capable of eating is to place the newborn directly on the nipple.

The puppy will hopefully be able to feed on its own from the nipple after that. 

Because more vulnerable puppies should be placed near the legs place them closer to the nipples 

You can make sure that each puppy has eaten and is full by looking at their tummies. Make sure they are round and “full”. 

Difference between puppy food and adult food

What should mum eat?

Replacement mother’s milk?

There are times when a puppy might not be able to feed on its mother or the mother may not be able to produce any milk.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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