Should Dogs Be Fed Before or After a Walk

There is no definite answer to this question. You can do it either way, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind and one of them is as followed:

Feeding a dog IMMEDIATELY after or before walking causes dysfunction in the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus and could be life-threatening!

Let’s deep into each of these options (before and after) to find out their benefits and risks.

Walking Your Dog After Meal

(3) Benefits Includes

Now that your dog has had a delicious meal and is digesting, he will feel energetic and ready to head out for a walk with energy and enthusiasm. 

His walk will be enjoyable not only mentally and emotionally, but also physically, as well.

Sports-loving families who want their dogs to go for a long walk or more strenuous activity should feed them before the walk, but keep in mind that your dog should rest for an hour before the trip.

Your dog can benefit from a walk after eating in the following ways:

  • He had the energy to enjoy his walk after eating.
  • A walk after eating helps in improving his digestive and circulatory system.
  • It will help to keep his metabolism high and burn more calories (Weight control management).

(4) Risks Involved

You should wait at least an hour before taking your dog on a walk after feeding them.

Failure to comply with these guidelines can lead your dog to suffer from the following health risks:

  • Pain in the stomach.
  • Nausea followed by vomiting.
  • Bloated stomach.
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), which is a potentially life-threatening condition.

GDV is thought to be caused by a twisting of a dog’s stomach. A dog may get this condition from eating a big meal prior to vigorous exercise, stress and anxiety. 

This will affect your dog’s metabolism and will result in him becoming nauseated and throwing up. 

In addition to a swollen stomach, and increased heartbeat, drooling is another common symptom of GDV.

GDV is commonly found in large breeds of dogs such as English Mastiff, Irish Wolfhound and Saint Bernard.

A mortality rate of up to 10 and 30 percent can be expected after treatment for GDV.

Your dog may also experience bloating as a result of exercising right after eating. Bloating occurs when the stomach expands as a result of food or accumulated air. 

Other common discomforts include stomach pain, which is caused by your dog having a full stomach and excessive running and jumping. There is a limit to how much the stomach can tolerate before it becomes uncomfortable.

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Walking Your Dog Before Meal

(3) Benefits Includes

As you know, your dog’s organs need time to get up to speed before they can work effectively. You can achieve this by walking him before feeding him. 

He will be accelerating his heart rate during the walk, which helps to improve his blood circulation and allows his organs to cleanse themselves and function as they should.

In a way, it almost looks like he is exercising his circulatory system!

If your dog is chubby, it is also a great way for him to lose weight. The extra calories that he burns while walking will help him to lose weight.

This is because it is his fat that he will be burning, since he ate nothing he could convert into energy. By doing this, his fat will gradually burn off.

Thus, you can reap the following benefits by taking your dog for a walk before eating:

  • Helps to restore his body’s organs.
  • It helps with his digestive system.
  • Facilitates his weight loss.

Although there are benefits to this, you should be aware of the risks associated with it.

(3) Risks Involved

Taking your dog for a walk before his meal also has its risks! Here are some:

  • Feeling low in energy and moody.
  • Tired and sluggish.
  • Weight gain as a result of not walking enough to burn calories.

Often, your dog will not enjoy his walk because he’s hungry and won’t be moving around much. 

He may even become lethargic or light-headed if he is starving, as he just doesn’t have the energy to move on.

It’s possible for weight gain to occur as he isn’t putting the effort into his walk and won’t be able to reap the benefits of the walk.

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What Would Be the Best Choice for Your Dog?

In terms of his health, what would be the best choice for your dog – walking before or after meals?

Your dog’s vigor level plays a role in your decision-making. If your dog likes to run around in the house before going for a walk, he’s likely to be hungry and famished when out for a walk, which can lead to fatigue and exhaustion.

In a way, this defeats the benefit of his walk. Clearly, walking after his meal would be a better option. 

On the other hand, walking after a meal can cause digestion issues or GSV, both of which sound frightening, especially for elderly dogs where their digestive system is slowing down.

So, what should you do? Here are 5 consideration factors:

1. It is generally recommended that you do not feed your dog an hour before or right after exercising. There are dog owners who prefer a two-hour gap, but this is potentially conservative and often impractical.

2. Plan your day according to your schedule. Your dog works well when you have a schedule, and the same goes for you!

When you know you will not be able to wait 60 minutes after his meal to take him for a walk, perhaps you should consider moving the time of his meal.

Bring forward his feeding time to an hour earlier and that will give him more time to digest his food.

3. If you have to walk your dog before his meal, be extra cautious and keep an eye on his energy level. If he seems fatigued, you should take him home.

At the very least, he should be given water and a break while he makes his way home. Of course, if your dog is a small breed, it will be easy for you to carry him home.

4. Seek advice from your vet. Veterinarians are often able to offer helpful suggestions tailored to the needs and well-being of your dog.

This is especially important if you know your dog has a history of nausea or vomiting after eating. Be sure to follow the advice of your veterinarian, much like you would trust the advice of a doctor!

5. How long should you walk your dog? The general rule of thumb is to multiply a dog’s age in months by five to determine the maximum walking time per walk. If your dog is 5 months old, he can walk for 25 minutes, twice daily.

Of course, you will also have to take into consideration such as the intensity of the walk, the breed, age and health status of your dog as well as whether he is on an empty or full stomach for the walk. 

If he starts to exhibit lethargic and tired because of hunger (if it’s almost 8 hours since his last meal), you should shorten the walk. 

Likewise, if he had already eaten, and you waited an hour before taking him for a walk, you can stick to the above recommended walking distance for him, as long as he has no health problems.

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