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Should You Feed Your Dog Before Or After A Walk?

Is It Better To Feed A Dog Before Or After A Walk?

Should I feed a dog before or after a walk is one of the biggest concerns many dog parents face. With so much conflicting information on the internet, it’s really no surprise that many owners don’t know whether to feed a puppy before or after a walk.

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If you’ve just adopted a new puppy, you should come up with a regular feeding and walking schedule as this can immensely help with housebreaking and training your puppy. Remember, dogs are creatures of habit, so once you find a feeding and walking schedule that works for you, stick with it! 

Read on to find out if the best time to feed a dog is before or after a walk. I’ll also walk you through the risks and advantages of feeding dogs before and after a walk so you can decide what works best for you and your pooch!

Should I Feed My Dog Before Or After A Walk?

As with most things in life, there isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to is it better to feed a dog before or after a walk! 

Based on science you should separate your dog’s walks and exercise from its meals for at least 30 minutes. When it comes to large and giant dog breeds, vets recommend a one to two hours break between activities and meals. 

If by any chance you decide to feed your dog right after a walk or vice versa, your dog may have trouble digesting its food and is at a higher risk of developing bloat. Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, bloat is an extremely serious health problem that can result in death if not caught and treated in time. 

Having said that, let’s check out whether you should walk a dog before or after eating. I’ll list the pros and cons of both so you can decide if you should walk a dog before or after they eat.

Pros Of Feeding A Dog Before A Walk

A lot of owners opt to feed their dogs before going for a walk. This is mainly because this creates a much more consistent bathroom schedule and can be helpful when potty training puppies.

You see, dogs tend to eliminate quickly after they eat, so when you feed them before a walk, you are creating a consistent schedule for them. 

The main reasons why dogs eat before going for a walk are:

  • To feel more energized and fueled on the walk
  • Better digestion and circulation
  • Weight management 

If you are wondering can you walk a dog after they eat, the answer is yes you can! In fact, your pooch will feel more energized and excited on its walk after they had something to eat. Feeding your dog before a walk can be especially beneficial if you are going on a longer walk or plan to exercise your pooch.

Taking your dog for a walk after a meal can also improve their circulation and digestion. This helps keep their digestive tract and metabolism working as they should, thus supporting your dog’s overall health and well-being.  

Last but not least, walking your dog after eating will also maintain their current weight. This is a good thing if your pooch is at their ideal weight and doesn’t have to lose or gain any pounds. 

Cons Of Feeding Your Dog Before A Walk

As with anything else, there are risks associated with feeding your dog before a walk. The chances of your dog experiencing any side effects of eating before a walk are much higher if you don’t make a 30-minute break (at a minimum) between the meal and the walk. 

Risks of feeding a dog before a walk them are:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat)

Vomiting and stomach pain are common side effects of gobbling kibble before going for a walk. As your dog runs and jumps outside their stomach content gets tossed around making the dog ill. 

Feeding your dog right before a walk can cause their stomach to bloat or twist, cutting off the blood supply and resulting in death, if not caught in time. Large, giant, and deep-chested dog breeds are at higher risk of developing bloat. So make sure that you are waiting at least 30 minutes to an hour between feeding and taking your dog for a walk.

Pros Of Feeding A Dog After A Walk

If you still aren’t sure whether or not you should feed a dog before or after a walk, don’t worry! Instead, check out the main benefits of walking your dog before feeding them!

  • Allows organs to repair and restore function
  • Relieves gastrointestinal issues like stomach upset and diarrhea
  • Supports weight loss

Feeding your dog after taking them for a walk allows their organs time to push all the junk and toxins and restore their full function. This happens because your dog’s heart rate jumps and blood circulation improves during the walk, thus carrying more oxygen to all organs. 

RELATED READ: Best Automatic Feeders For Pets

If your dog is on a chubbier side, going for a walk on an empty stomach will help them burn more calories and support weight loss. Your dog will burn energy as they walk and since they haven’t eaten anything to fuel them, their body will start burning.

Cons Of Walking A Dog Before Feeding Them

At this point, you are probably wondering how to decide when to feed a dog when there are both pros and cons to feeding before and after a walk! However, having all information at hand and knowing the risks will help you make the best decision for your dog.

The biggest downsides of feeding a dog after a walk include:

  • Lightheadedness 
  • Low mood and energy
  • Lethargy

While dogs can go three to five days without food, your pooch may be hungry and not enjoy its walk on an empty stomach. If your pooch is really hungry they may even get lethargic or light-headed during a walk, especially if it’s a longer and more strenuous walk. 

How Long Does It Take Dogs To Digest Food?

As a rule of thumb, it will take between six to eight hours for a dog to fully digest food. However, there are several factors that can influence how long it takes dogs to digest and pass food through their digestive systems.

How long will it take your dog to digest its meal depends on its age, size, pre-existing health conditions, and breed. 

However, the biggest influence on the digestive process has the food itself. You see, dogs digest wet dog food faster than kibble. Also, the quality of the ingredients and their digestibility will also influence the length of the digestion process. 

Conclusion: When to feed your dog – before or after walks?

As you can see there is no right answer when it comes to whether you should feed your dog before or after a walk! As long as you are following the 30-minute rule you can feed your pooch before or after a walk.

Having said that, if you are wondering whether to feed a puppy before or after a walk, you may want to try feeding before a walk. Since puppies eliminate after eating, having a set meal schedule can help with potty training your puppy. If you decide to go with this approach, don’t forget to wait at least 30 minutes to avoid the risks associated with feeding your dog before a walk.

As always, when in doubt talk with your vet! They will be able to tell you whether you should walk your dog before or after eating based on their age, size, and overall health! 

Read more about dog nutrition:

Should You Feed Your Dog Before Or After A Walk?

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