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

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

Two of the most common questions that dog parents have are: “what is the best time to feed a dog, before or after a walk?” and “how long should I wait to take my dog out after eating?”.

It’s common for dog owners to worry that walking the dog after eating will lead to bloating or stomach twists (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!

Chapter 1

Ch 2 | Ch 3

All about walking, exercising and feeding dogs after eating

Should I Feed My 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 determine the best time to feed your dog to safely take out your dog on walks, runs, or exercise.

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 pup 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 has tummy or digestive troubles, we recommend Nom Nom Dog Probiotics.

Probiotics help dogs with gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and stomach discomfort. Learn More About Dog Probiotics & Its Benefits.

Reasons Not Walk Dog After Eating

The main reason 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? The reason is that “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.

We use this Pet Feeding Reminder to manage our feeding routine and remind us to provide time for our dogs to digest their food before walking them.

Benefits of Walking Your Dog After Eating

Dog exercise has a definite impact on motility or the way that the muscles of the dog’s digestive system propel food through the process.1 

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

But, how long after eating can I walk my dog?

How Long Should I Wait to Take My Dog Out 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.2

However, waiting will also depend on how much food your dog ate. You shouldn’t have to wait two hours for a small snack or a light meal. 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.3

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

Can I Walk My Dog 30 Minutes After Eating

Dogs can safely walk 30 minutes after eating a small snack. Walking a dog that ate one or two treats should not cause any issues such as bloating.

According to vets, it’s advised that you should wait at least two hours after your dog has eaten a full meal before walking them. Walking your dog straight after a meal can cause your dog to bloat, lead to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), or other health problems.

If your dog has eaten more than a few snacks, do not walk it after 30 minutes. 

Can I Walk My Dog An Hour After Eating?

Yes, walking a dog one hour after eating is fine as long as your dog’s meal is small. You should wait for 2 to 3 hours for larger meals.

Chapter 2

Ch 1 | Ch 3

All about walking, exercising and feeding dogs before eating

Walking A Dog Before Eating

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

The obvious answer is to avoid all the health risks (i.e., stomach twists, bloating, etc.) associated with walking your dog with a full belly. However, there are other substantial reasons to 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 Nom Nom’s veterinary nutritionist, dogs are built to sustain extended fasting and can eat for quite some time as long as they are healthy. 

Most healthy dogs can go up to 5 days to 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 are 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 in a fasted state triggers a dog’s body to metabolize fat or enter a state of ketosis, which aids with weight loss in dogs.4

A study reported that a dog that usually walks at a pace of 3.7 – 4 miles an hour (~15-minute miles) would 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.5

Giving your dog’s body a break from constantly digesting and processing food not only restricts calories but 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 and yours. Keeping an active puppy is a must regardless of their 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 to reward him for accomplishing the walk on an empty stomach.

Carrying water during a walk is also important. We use this portable dog water bottle dispense with a filter to remove impurities and residual chlorine.

It’s important to consult with your veterinarian if you consider not feeding your dog before walking or exercising.

How Long To Wait To Feed Dog After Exercise?

How soon after exercising or walking your dog can you feed them? It depends on the intensity of the exercise or walks.

Generally, vets advise waiting at least 30 minutes before feeding your dog after a walk. However, you can provide water but should hold off feeding your dog until the thirty minutes have passed.

You should never feed your dog right after intense exercise. This may predispose the dog’s stomach to bloat or twist, especially for large breed or deep-chested dogs.6

Chapter 3

Ch 1 | Ch 2

Tips, FAQs & more

Walk Puppy Before or After Eating?

Puppies have a different nutrition regiment than adult dogs. Nutrition is critical for proper development. For this reason, it’s recommended to feed puppies before taking them on walks.

How long to wait to walk puppy after eating? Because puppies usually eat three times a day from weaning through four to six months, you need to give them plenty of time to digest their food properly. Vets recommend waiting at least one hour before taking your puppy out for a walk or playtime.

Should I Feed or Walk My Dog First In The Morning?

Do you feed dogs before or after a morning walk? This is a matter of preferences and how your dog’s feeding schedule is set up.

Walking your dog first thing in the morning before feeding him is ideal since most dogs need to potty first thing in the morning to prevent accidents.

You can choose to do a quick walk after your dog goes potty. A morning walk allows dogs to get their energy out early in the day, which often results in better behavior and more receptiveness to training.

Or, you can opt to return home after potty and walk him after feeding him. Obviously, you would need to wait the appropriate time to let the food digest, as we recommend above.

Feed Dog Before or After Morning Run?

Should I feed dog before or after a morning run? It is generally recommended to feed your dog before running. This gives your dog’s body the fuel to exercise safely and efficiently. Keep your dog’s running light to moderate if you make your dog run on an empty stomach.

To learn more about taking dogs on a run, check out our running with dogs guide.

How Long Should A Dog Wait to Run After Eating?

As a general guideline, it’s recommended that your dog waits for 2 to 3 hours after a large meal before running. If your dog had a small meal or snack, wait a minimum of 30 minutes or preferably 1 to 2 hours before going for a run.

The same rule of thumb applies if your dog practices dog sports.

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.

When Is The Best Time To Feed My Dog?

Most experts recommend feeding your dog twice a day, once in the morning and evening. In general, a fully grown dog needs to wait anywhere between four and six hours between feedings. Your pet needs this time to digest previous meals before they eat again.

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

What Is The Best Time to Walk My Dog?

According to most experts, the best time to walk your dog is morning and afternoon/evening. The longest walk of the day should take place in the morning, followed by a calmer, more relaxed stroll later in the day.

Best Time to Feed Dog Before or After Walk: 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 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 him (and feed him afterward), you might have to go back out again for a bathroom break.

We prefer walking the dogs after they’ve eaten because it’s easier to get into a routine. Whether you choose to feed your dog before or after walks, follow the general rule of thumb of not feeding dogs for at least one hour before or after exercising.

There is no right or wrong approach. But, you need to understand the pros and cons of both before deciding what’s best for your pup so you can do it safely while keeping your dog happy and healthy.


Sources & References: [1] Dogster, [2] The Vet, [3] PetMD, [4] Obesity: Research Journal, [5] Healthy Pets [6] Science Daily

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