Walking A Dog Before or After Eating: Risks, Benefits & More

Walking A Dog Before or After Eating: Risks, Benefits & More

Walking A Dog Before or After Eating: Risks, Benefits & More

So, is it better to feed a dog before or after a walk? It depends.

One of the most common questions that dog parents have is, “what is the best time to feed a dog, before or after a walk?.”

It’s common for dog owners to worry that walking the dog after eating will lead to bloating or stomach twist (also known as Gastric dilatation-volvulus). But they’re also concerned that not fueling up their dogs before a walk will leave them feeling weak, lethargic, and hungry.

This guide will clear up the confusion on the topic of “feeding the dog before or after a walk”. Let’s dive right in…

Feed The Dog Before or After Walk?

Is it a matter of personal preference or are there guidelines you should follow?

We explain each case in detail (risks and benefits) along with research and suggestions from experts to help you get the most out of each scenario so you can safely walk your pooch.

Walking A Dog After Eating

Can you walk your dog after eating? There are several factors and pros and cons that come with walking a dog after feeding him.

Each dog has different needs and tolerances, and it also depends on the distance and speed you’ll be walking. Your pooch may not need any fuel for a 10-minute stroll but he may need some for a long, brisk exercise walk.

Risks of Walking Dog After Eating 

Dogs can quickly ‘bloat‘ or experience Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) if they partake in any strenuous exercise too soon after eating their meal. While walking is not a strenuous type of activity, most dogs on walks tend to get excited and start to run around.

Walking a dog after eating may cause the stomach to swell and twist upon itself, causing blockages that can be life-threatening to a dog if not treated quickly. 

Other risks associated with feeding your dog and going on a walk immediately after a meal are:

  • Inhibiting circulation within the digestive tract 
  • Interrupting proper food digestion
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Cramps

If your dog is having tummy or digestive troubles, we recommend Zesty Paws Probiotic for Dogs. Probiotics help dogs with gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and stomach discomfort.

Learn More About Dog Probiotics & Its Benefits On Dogs

Reasons Not Walk Dog After Eating

The main reason why you should not walk your dog immediately after a big meal is to allow proper food digestion. Improper digestion can induce your dog to experience the health risks described above.

There is a reason why do people and dogs get sluggish after eating? It’s because “the body uses energy (glucose) to digest the food you’ve just eaten. Insulin and serotonin are also produced after certain meals, which can trigger our ‘happy’ and ‘sleep’ hormones,” says  Robbie Clark, dietitian and sports nutritionist.

Letting your dog properly digest food with a post-meal break period is vital to ensure his energy levels feel balanced again. But, how long after eating can I walk my dog?

How Long Wait To Walk or Exercise Dog After Eating?

According to The Vet, a leading veterinary healthcare center, you should not let the dog play or exercise (e.g. go for a walk) for at least two hours after having a meal to avoid health risks.

However, waiting will also depend on how much food your dog ate. For a small snack or a light meal, you shouldn’t have to wait two hours. One hour should be appropriate. On the other hand, if your dog has eaten a full-on meal, you should stick to the two-hour recommendation.

On average, food moves through the canine stomach a bit slower than ours, but food movement through the intestines is a little faster, in fact, a dog’s Gastrointestinal transit time, or time to fully digest a meal, is 6 to 8 hours, says Dr. David Brummer, a veterinarian with Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center in Orchard Park, New York.

So, how long should I wait to take my dog out after eating?

The downtime before walking your pup depends on how much he’s eaten and his digestive system. So follow this general rule:

  • At least 30 minutes after a small snack
  • 1 hour after a small meal 
  • 2 to 3 hours after a large meal\

Benefits of Walking Your Dog After Eating

Dog exercise has a definite impact on motility or the way that the muscles of the dog digestive system propel food through the process. 

Are you saying walking a dog after feeding him is beneficial? Yes, as long as you have allowed your dog to process his food correctly.

So, what good does walking your dog do?

Walking for dogs is a must and needs to be done. Although it can help with happiness and health, it can also help with the following:

  • After a meal, glucose levels tend to rise. Walking keeps your dog’s blood glucose levels stable. The muscles dogs use to walk use glucose as energy, drawing it out of circulation and therefore reducing how much is floating around. If your dog suffers from diabetes, walking or exercising could result in low blood sugar levels. Consult your veterinarian if this is the case.
  • Weight and body conditioning
  • Digestive and urinary health

Walking A Dog Before Eating

What is the case for walking a dog before giving him food? 

The obvious answer, to avoid all the health risks (i.e., stomach twist, bloating, etc.) associated with walking your dog with a full belly. However, there are other substantial reasons why you should walk a dog before meals. 

Let’s take a look at the risks first.

Risks of Walking Dog Before Eating 

According to Dr. Justin Shmalberg, a DVM and NomNomNow’s veterinary nutritionist, dogs are built to sustain extended fasting and can go eating for quite some time as long as they are healthy. 

Most healthy dogs can go up to 5 days to a maximum of 7 days without food but just water. So yes, you can walk your dog safely even if he hasn’t eaten yet. The risks are minimal.

However, this doesn’t mean you can starve your dog or take him on long walks or strenuous activities without food. Take this information with a grain of salt and use your good judgment. 

So, is it wrong to walk or exercise your dog without giving him food? A short walk might be just fine, but if your pup just woke up after a long night’s sleep, he will probably want to have breakfast. Long walks or strenuous activities without food is not recommended. 

Reasons Not Walk Dog Before Eating

A few reasons you not to walk your dog without having food include:

  • Feeling letárgic 
  • Lightheaded 
  • Low energy 

Generally, it’s safe to take out a healthy adult dog for a walk before eating. However, you shouldn’t walk or expose your dog to demanding activities before eating if your dog is a growing puppy, lactating female, old dog, a dog with health conditions for which not eating is contraindicated, and small toy breeds prone to hyperglycemia.

Always consult your veterinarian if your dog is under a nutritional regimen, requires special nutrition, or has health issues such as diabetes. 

Benefits of Walking Your Dog Before Eating

Walking your dog on an empty stomach may benefit your pooch, especially if your dog is overweight. 

On humans, research supports that working out in a fasted state can burn more fat than exercising in a fed state. The same may be applicable to dogs. A dog on a fasted state triggers a dog’s body to metabolize fat, or to enter a state of ketosis, which aids with weight loss in dogs.

A study reported that a dog that usually walks at a pace of 3.7 – 4 miles an hour (~15-minute miles) will burn 0.8 calories per pound per mile. This means a 20-pound dog will only burn about 64 calories during a one hour walk.

When you walk your dog in a fasted state, like first thing in the morning before breakfast, their bodies will burn a greater chunk of fat calories — thus increasing their calorie burn rate per mile.

When a dog doesn’t eat before a walk (or is under an intermittent eating diet), its body isn’t being asked to digest and absorb large meals. This break from food allows the liver to more efficiently process the released waste products, which decreases the body’s toxic load according to Dr. Karen Shaw Becker from Healthy Pets.

Giving your dog’s body a break from constantly digesting and processing food not only restricts calories but it offers several benefits, including:

  • Improves mitochondrial function
  • Allows organs a chance to repair and restore function
  • Elevating macrophage activity
  • Reversal of digestive symptoms such as upset stomach and diarrhea

Furthermore, walking helps with your dog’s emotions and mental health as well as yours. Keeping an active puppy is a must regardless of his or her feeding schedule.

A good tip when walking Fido on an empty stomach is to carry a couple of treats (our pups love these from Rocco & Roxie) just in case the walk goes for longer than expected, to use as motivation or simply to reward him for accomplishing the walk on an empty stomach.

It’s important to consult with your veterinarian if you’re considering not feeding your dog before walks or any type of exercise.

Which Is Better?

So, should you walk your dog before or after eating? In depends…

Feeding your dog before walking is good to fuel his body with energy for any kind of exercise he will do throughout the day. Another great reason you will want to walk your beloved friend after eating is that it’s easier to establish a feeding and potty schedule. Most dogs urinate or defecate right after having a meal.

On the contrary, if you walk fido before feeding and you feed him afterward, you might have to go back out again for a bathroom break.

We prefer walking the dogs after they’ve eaten just because it’s easier to get into a routine. There is no right or wrong approach. It’s knowing how to do it safely while keeping your pup happy.

Is There a Best Time to Feed Them?

Most experts recommend feeding your dog twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Use an approximate timing to walk Fido based on his feeding schedule and keep in mind this information to make an informed decision.

How Long To Wait To Feed Dog After Exercise?

How soon after exercising or walking your dog you need to feed him depends on the intensity of the exercise or walk. Generally, wait at least 30 minutes before feeding your dog. However, if your dog ate before the workout or walk, provide water, and provide his next meal in accordance with his feeding schedule.

How Far Should You Walk Your Dog After Eating?

After eating a proper meal and having the appropriate post-meal rest period, most dogs can walk from 20 to 30 minutes daily. Dogs with good physical conditioning can walk up to hours according to PetMD. Be mindful of walks if your dog is overweight.

Other Ways Keep Fido Active

If you are curious about other ways to remain active with Fido, check out this list of all the dog sports you can practice with your fur-ever friend. Love running? This complete guide will teach you everything about running with your dogs.

Source: Canine Bible


Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.