I often find that there’s some confusion and even ignorance amongst dog owners about how long you should wait to exercise or walk a dog after eating. Some think it’s ok to let their dog run around straight after a meal, but this isn’t actually true.
Having spoken to various vets down the years, the most common answer from the professionals for adult dogs and puppies is as follows:
How long should I wait to walk my dog after eating? Vets recommend that you wait at least 2 hours before you walk or exercise your dog after eating. Running and exercise can lead to twisted gut injurie for dogs who over-exert themselves after a meal. Called GDV (gastric dilation-volvulus), it is the medical term for bloating.
GDV and bloating dangers after a meal
After the first two hours of eating, a dog can suffer with a bloated stomach. It happens when parts of the digestive system roll, stopping circulation and trapping gas. As you can probably imagine, this leads to a dog’s stomach inflating like a balloon.
GDV (see gastric dilation-volvulus definition) can be a lot worse the larger the meal. The treatment of GDV will depend on how serious the bloating and torsion is, with extreme cases ending in death.
I don’t wish to panic you though.
GDV isn’t as common as you might think, and in fact, my dog has probably run around and played within minutes of a big meal. However, it is a risk, but happily it doesn’t need to be a death sentence for your dog according to Vets-Now.com.
But if you want to be completely safe, then I recommend you wait at least 2 hours before taking your dog for a walk and exercise after eating.
How long after eating to walk a puppy?
Just like with adult dogs, how long you should wait before letting a puppy run after eating is still the 2-hour mark.
I know it’s hard with puppies as they always want to play, no matter how full up they are. My dog always wants to play after eating, so like I do, just proceed with a little caution when it comes to post-meal puppy exercise.
Should you walk your dog before or after they eat?
Based on the risks, you would assume the recommendation would be to walk your dog before they eat. And you would be right, but there are some caveats to be aware of that will help you protect your dog from injury and illness.
It all boils down to a few points, as whether you should walk your dog before or after they eat is mainly down to the timeframes involved – with pros and cons on both.
How long to wait to feed dog after exercise? If you have already had a walk with your dog, vets recommend that you wait half an hour before feeding them.
By walking your dog before a meal, it will reduce their chances of developing a stomach twist (gastric torsion), where the dog’s belly can fill with gas after sudden movements when full.
Walking your dog before they eat will not completely eliminate their chances of getting GDV, but the risks are reduced considerably.
You might also find you get a better walk if you take your dog for exercise before they have a meal. Like us, some dogs will get very lazy after a big feed, and won’t be in the mood for a walk, let alone running around at the park – it’s very much down to their own personality though!
Should you walk a dog before a meal they will burn off excess energy and be more inclined to eat the food placed in front of them.
What is the best time to feed your dog?
Adult dogs only need to be fed twice a day, mornings and evenings and before walks or exercise as we’ve established. With puppies, it’s more regular with 3 different meals a day.
And of course, snacks and treats are allowed as long as in moderation. I use a 90/10 rule whereby 10% of our dog’s daily calories are snack based, and never anything more than that.
Plus, from what I’ve learned down the years, you should wait for 4 to 6 hours between meals. This lets your dog digest and absorb all the food and nutrients properly before the next meal.
Some dog owners actually let their own dog decide when to eat. They do this by filling up the bowl with 2 meals worth of a food in the morning (after exercise). Their dogs can then eat on their own terms, and this has been said to be good for hyperactive dogs… why this is the case I am not so sure but assume it’s to do with them loading calories on after vigorous exercise.
My dog wants to play after eating
As already mentioned, it’s not that unusual for dogs to want to play after eating, particularly energetic puppies. However, you should dial things down a bit if they have had a very large meal.
You don’t have to completely stop all play though; it’s running about that can cause the harm, so instead try things like tug of war or mental challenges before the walk time.
How long should you walk your dog every day?
Most owners agree that two walks a day for a dog is the preferred approach. From experience, dogs certainly want as many as they can, but stick to 30 minutes on each one with smaller dogs.
How long you walk them for after or before eating will depend on the size of the dog, their breed, age, and health. Plus of course what you are capable of as an owner!
There are so many benefits to dog walking, and not just for the dog:
- It can help you to build up trust with your dog and strengthen bonds.
- It will keep you both healthy and trim, burning excess calories from snacking.
- It can keep you both socialized with other dogs and owners.
- It helps with stress and boredom for the both of you.
How far should you walk your dog after eating?
For most dogs, a distance of between one and three miles should be adequate walking distance. If you’re walking an older or small dog at a slow pace, chances are you won’t be able to cover much ground.
If you’re strolling briskly with a bigger dog, you’re more likely to cover a longer distance. For puppies, it’s advisable to let them set the pace for themselves.
Other factors that determine how far you can walk your dog include the terrain and weather.
Do dogs get enough exercise by just walking?
Yes, they probably do, but it depends on how regular and far your walks are. For example, a dog that walks up to an hour a day is probably getting enough exercise, but again, it boils down to the dog.
Consult with your vet for guidance based on the individual dog’s age, health, and breed.
As with any canine health concern, you should always ask your own vet what they think. Given your pet’s history, your vet might have a very different opinion on how long you should wait to exercise your dog after eating – my advice is generic for the average dog.
I try to stick to the 2 hours wait as best I can, but it’s not always possible. Thankfully isn’t a huge eater so I believe the risks are a little lower, but I still play it safe where I can.
You might also like…
On the subject of dog walking and how long you should wait or other concerns, you might enjoy the following guides: