Have you ever wondered what is the best time and when to walk your dog after eating?
Believe it or not, there is actually a best time to wait before walking your dog after they have had their meal, and there’s a good reason for this. Here’s the short answer below, and I will then go into more detail on why you need to wait.
When to walk dog after eating? You should wait at least two hours before walking your dog after eating. Walking your dog immediately after eating can cause bloat or torsion and a condition called GDV (gastric dilation-volvulus) which is a twisting of the gut caused by vigorous exercise.
Why you should wait to walk your dog after eating
Bloating occurs when the dog’s digestive system causes the stomach to enlarge like a balloon. Torsion is where the top and bottom parts of the stomach roll – inhibiting circulation within the digestive tract and trapping gases.
This is something called GDV (see the medical definition on ACVS.org). It will typically occur inside the first couple of hours after feeding. It can be exacerbated by a large meal, which is why vets recommend that 2 hours is how long after eating to walk a puppy or dog.
Should you walk your dog before or after eating?
The decision as to whether you should walk your dog before or after feeding it depends on a couple of things that I’m going to highlight below. Choosing to walk your dog before or after a meal has both its pros and its cons.
In most cases, the decision lies in how long you should wait to walk your dog either before or after feeding it. We’ve already established that you need to wait for 2 hours after feeding to walk your dog, but what about after exercise?
How long to wait to feed dog after exercise?
After a walk, wait at least 30 minutes before feeding your dog. The same rule applies as indicated earlier after eating. Wait at least 2 hours to walk your dog.
Walking your dog before a meal helps to reduce chances of it contracting gastric torsion (GDV), also known as stomach twist. It occurs when the stomach gets filled with trapped air, causing it to rotate when the dog makes sharp movements.
Taking your dog for a walk does not eliminate the risk of getting stomach twist completely. It only reduces it.
Another reason is to make sure the dog doesn’t get lethargic. Some dogs get lazy after a meal. However, this doesn’t apply to all dogs. If your dog gets way too lazy, consider feeding it before taking a walk.
Walking your dog before a meal helps the dog to exert energy. Canines are natural hunters that hunt other animals for food. Instinctively, they work hard for their food. Taking your dog for a walk before feeding it is a great way of making it exert some energy.
Similarly, choosing to walk your dog before a meal reduces the chance of it getting stomach twists. You should always let your dog rest for a while before feeding it.
Once it’s calm, relaxed, and quiet; you can go ahead and give it some food. Once they get used to the walks, they’ll be able to maintain a consisted bathroom habit.
What is the best time to feed your dog?
Many new dog owners think that their dog’s feeding schedule should resemble that of a human being. This is not the case.
A human being normally eats between 6 and 8 in the morning, 11 am and 1 pm, and 7 and 9 in the evening. In between, some may grab a snack or two, especially if what they had earlier wasn’t enough.
Common practice holds that you should feed your dog at least twice a day (puppies will be three times daily). This is early in the morning at 7 and in the evening at 6.
The physiology and anatomy of a dog’s digestive system require a gap of between 4 and 6 hours for digestion and absorption of food to take place completely.
After about 8 or 10 hours, the dog’s stomach receptors begin to notify its brain that it’s is hungry.
Most dog experts and vets will recommend feeding your dog at least twice a day to provide an 8- to 12-hour gap between feeding times. This can be done early in the morning as you prepare to leave for work and later in the evening when you get home.
Handy Hint: If you own a French Bulldog puppy, please read my guide to their daily feeding schedule.
There are proponents that recommend feeding your dog just once a day. This is in the evening. Feeding your dog at this time ensures that they have nutrients that will last them until the next evening.
You could decide to walk your dog two hours after its evening meal. This practice has been seen to work quite well for a good number of pet owners.
For other pet owners, however, letting their dog decide works better than having a strict feeding schedule for them. Here, the food is left in the bowl all day long. The dog gets a chance to eat whenever it feels like.
For dogs that are highly hyperactive, this can be good practice as it ensures that the dog gets the calories it needs. The only problem is that the food might get wasted as it’s left exposed to rats, cockroaches, and ants. It may also not be a good idea for dogs suffering from diabetes.
Handy Hint: There are certain foods you should avoid, including some fruits. I’ve created a downloadable list with all fruits that are safe for a dog to eat, plus the ones you should always avoid. Download the fruit list here.
My dog wants to play after eating
Many dogs will want to play after eating. As discussed, if you have an energetic dog, you should resist the temptation if they have had a large meal. Perhaps instead play a little game of tug of war with them, and keep them occupied indoors before taking them for a walk after a meal.
How long should you walk your dog every day?
In general, you should walk your dog at least twice a day. This could be split into 20 or 30 minutes of walking in the morning and in the evening.
There are a number of factors that affect how long you should walk your dog. They include the dog’s size, breed, health condition, energy level, and the working schedule of the owner.
A small dog is likely to get more exercise from the same walk taken by a larger dog. There are breeds that are more energetic than others. Another consideration is what your dog loves to do. If your dog spends most of its time running around, it may not require a lot of walking. Puppies and older dogs benefit more from shorter but frequent walks. These do not stress their bones and joints.
Dog walking has been proven to have numerous benefits.
- Strengthens the bond between the dog and owner: by providing some quality time for building trust.
- Helps to keep owners and dogs in shape: it helps to cut a few extra pounds not only for the dog but also its owner.
- Helps with socialization: it helps the dog to socialize and familiarize itself with the world. The dog able to take in new smells and sights.
- Reduces loneliness: a dog that sits in the backyard all day long can get lonely. The extra activity helps to eliminate dog boredom and reduce the feeling of loneliness.
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.
If your dog walks by your side, chances are that it will cover more or less the same distance as you. You can carry a toy that you can throw around to encourage your dog to cover a longer distance.
Will your dog get enough exercise by walking?
Most dogs should get enough exercise from a sixty-minutes of walks each day. If your dog is still over-excited and hyperactive at the end of the walk, he may need more exercise.
If he takes a nap after the walk, he’s probably had enough exercise for a day.
We love walking with Claude the French Bulldog and have put together some more informative content on dog walking questions. Here are a few examples:
- How do I stop my dog nipping at my heels when I walk?
- How soon after being neutered do we have to wait before a dog walk?
- 9 reasons why your French Bulldog has stopped eating like usual
The last word…
As you can see, this blog is about French Bulldogs. The advice on when to walk a dog after eating is the same for all breeds though. However, Frenchies are more prone to health problems than other dogs (you can see all those health conditions here). Frenchies are also very susceptible to the heat. In summer months, as well as waiting until we walk Claude, we also don’t walk him when the sun is out, preferring to walk before 7am and after 6pm when it’s cooler.
Regardless, the advice on how long you should wait to take your dog out after eating is the same. It might sound like very alarmist advice, but it’s all backed up by what I’ve read on vet websites, plus what our own vet told us.