Walking your dog is part of your daily routine. It gives them exercise, and provides a perfect potty opportunity. However, many owners aren’t sure when they should walk their dog.
You have likely heard that you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating to swim. It turns out that this is a myth. It was thought that digestion would divert blood flow from the muscles, which could cause you to drown. However, you do need to wait a significant amount of time before intense exercise after meals. Does this wisdom hold true for your pooch as well?
How long to wait to walk my dog after he eats?
You may be surprised to learn that you shouldn’t walk your dog for a few hours after eating. How long you need to wait after eating depends on how much your pooch ate. We’ll also look at why it’s important to wait before walking your dog.
When to Walk Your Dog After Eating
Snacks and small meals are much easier to digest than large meals. If your dog eats a snack or a treat, you can walk them after 30 minutes. If they have a small meal, you’ll need to wait at least 1 hour. If they have a large meal, you should wait at least 2 hours before taking them for a walk.
Bloat is a lifethreatening condition. The technical term for the condition is gastric dilatation-volvulus, or GDV. The exact cause of bloat isn’t well understood. However, exercising too soon after eating is a risk factor.
Bloat occurs when gas builds up in your dog’s stomach. Typically, the gas is released through farting or belching, just as it is for humans. When bloat occurs, your dog isn’t able to release the gas.
As the food digests, the gas builds up. Pressure increases, which can cause the stomach to rotate. Once the stomach rotates, surgery is required. Without treatment, the condition is fatal.
Once the stomach rotates, nothing can come out of the stomach. The dog can’t vomit or poop. Retching without vomiting is a common sign of bloat.
Signs of bloat include a hard, distended abdomen. The dog will clearly be in pain. They may whine or pace. Panting and drooling are also common.
Risk Factors for Bloat
Certain large breeds with a deep chest are at a higher risk of bloat. These include German Shepards, Great Danes, Irish Setters, and Greyhounds.
A diet consisting of only dry food is another risk factor. Dogs who eat only one large meal a day are also at a higher risk. Lastly, stress, anxiety, or aggressiveness increase the risk of a dog developing bloat.
Simple bloat is a condition that you’ve likely experienced. The stomach feels tight and swollen, because gas is trapped inside. Eventually, the gas is either passed, or it dissipates.
If your dog’s stomach is slightly swollen, this isn’t a major cause for concern. However, if you notice other symptoms of bloat, get them to the vet immediately.
Another issue with walking your dog soon after eating is interrupting digestion. The digestion process takes a significant amount of energy. When your pooch is exercising, the energy needed for digestion can be diverted to the body.
It takes between 6 to 10 hours for your pooch to fully digest a meal. Wet food is digested faster, and may take as little as 4 hours.
Walking can actually be good for your dog’s digestion. It can stimulate the digestive tract, helping food move through the system, and ultimately out as poop. However, you’ll need to give your dog a few hours after a meal before walking them.
Walking your dog immediately after eating can also cause stomach upset. This can include cramping, stomach pain, and vomiting. This can also occur in humans. If you’ve experienced it, you know it’s not a fun feeling.
How soon can dogs eat after going for a walk?
You’ll need to wait at least 1 hour after walking your dog to feed them. Just like exercising too soon after eating, eating immediately after exercise also increases the risk of bloat.
Is it better to walk dogs before or after they eat?
There’s no hard and fast rule here. What works best for your schedule is the most important factor.
However, most experts say that it’s preferable to walk your dog before they eat. Just be sure to wait an hour after a vigorous walk before feeding them.
Setting a Schedule
Dogs are creatures of habit. It’s important to feed and walk them at set times each day. They will come to expect their meals and walks at these times. Dogs don’t tell time the way humans do. You won’t find them checking their watch, or their cell phone. However, they do have their own way of keeping time.
Dogs use the environment around them, combined with past experience, to know what time it is. For example, if you feed your dog at 9 am, they will be sensitive to the position of the sun and the changes in the air around this time. This is how they know they will be fed at 9 am.
They will also memorize your routine. If you wake up, make coffee, and then feed them, they expect to be fed after you make your coffee.
Keeping a routine helps your dog feel safe and secure. It lets them know what to expect, and when to expect it. This reduces stress and improves your dog’s well being. They are also less likely to overeat or scarf down their food if they know when to expect their next meal.
How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?
Adult dogs should be fed at least twice a day. Some high energy breeds do better if they are fed several smaller meals. You can also feed two meals, with a few snacks in between.
It comes down to your dog’s preferences, and what works best for your schedule. For example, if you are away from home during the day, feeding them in the morning and evening is perfectly acceptable. The key is consistency.
Experts recommend feeding meals 8-10 hours apart if you choose to feed two meals a day. This allows time for one meal to be fully digested before your dog consumes another.
Waiting more than 12 hours between feedings can cause digestive issues. When the stomach is empty, bile begins to build. This can cause bile induced vomiting.
Puppies need to be fed more often than adult dogs. Puppies should eat 4-6 small meals each day. Once they’ve reached 50% of their adult body weight, you can reduce their meals to 3 times a day. This typically occurs between 3-6 months of age. After 12 months of age, you can reduce feeding to twice a day.
How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
When designing a schedule for your dog, you’ll need to consider their exercise needs as well as their nutritional requirements. Dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. However, some dogs will need more activity than others.
Most breeds need between 30-45 minutes a day of moderate exercise. Walking and playing with toys are great ways to meet this need. If your dog enjoys the water, swimming also counts.
Breeds with moderate exercise needs include small or toy breeds, like chihuauas and Shih Tzu. Large breeds, including the Great Dane and St. Bernard have moderate exercise needs because of the energy required to move their larger bodies. Sight hounds also fall into this category, because they are not built to run for long periods. These include the Greyhound and Whippet.
Next are scent hounds and vermin breeds. These pooches need between 60-90 minutes of exercise each day. This category includes Terriers, Beagles, and Basset Hounds.
Sporting or working breeds need the most exercise. They require between 60-120 minutes, or 1 to 2 hours of activity each day. These include sporting breeds, like Retrievers and Spaniels. Working breeds, including Dobermans and Huskies, also need a significant amount of exercise. Not surprisingly, herding dogs are also in this category. Herding breeds include Collies and Shepards.
Brachiatric breeds are the exception to the rule. They have a narrow airway, and can tolerate less exercise than other breeds. Brachiatric breeds include Bulldogs and Pugs. They are prone to overheating. Exercise is still important for these breeds, but they require lighter exercise or shorter activity periods than other breeds.