beagle eating food from bowl

Should You Feed Your Dog Before or After a Walk?

Bloat is a common concern among dog owners, and we want to do anything we can to keep our dogs happy and healthy. That includes regulating their mealtimes as a preventative measure. There is no right or wrong answer if you should feed a dog before or after a walk, but you will need to wait either way to ensure they are safe to eat.

Typically, you should wait 30 minutes after a walk to feed your dog. If you feed your dog first, you should wait one hour after to walk your dog. This should help you protect your dog against bloat.

Should You Feed Your Dog Before or After a Walk?

What is Bloat?

Gastric Dilation Volvulus, more commonly known as bloat, is when a dog’s stomach swells and twists. This can cause serious, life-threatening consequences if not taken care of immediately. One of the main causes of bloat is your dog exercising too much on a full stomach. While walking typically isn’t that strenuous, bloat can happen as they get overly excited. As they run and jump, their stomach is more likely to flip when full.  

Not all dogs who eat immediately before or after exercise will develop bloat; however, it is recommended to wait out of an abundance of caution. Bloat is more common in larger dogs as the volume of food they eat is larger. You can also feed your dog using elevated bowls to prevent bloat. 

Symptoms of bloat include a distended and painful abdomen, restlessness, retching, panting, and excessive drooling. If you suspect your dog of having bloat, visit a vet immediately. 

When Should I Walk My Dog?  

Going outside and eating are two of most dogs’ favorite activities, but it is crucial that you keep an eye on your dog’s activities to prevent bloat. You do not want to walk your dog too soon after a meal or let them eat immediately after a walk. As a good rule of thumb, you should always wait to feed your dog before or after exercise.

  • 30 minutes after a walk
  • 30 minutes after a snack
  • 1 hour after a typical meal 
  • 2-3 hours after a larger meal 

The longer you wait, the better chance your dog will have to avoid coming down with bloat. While you can walk your dog anytime, it may be less risky, especially for larger dogs, to walk them before eating. 

One Last Word on Walking Your Dog Before or After Walks 

The amount of exercise your dog receives should be proportionate to their age. This will also help prevent bloat. Short walks are better for puppies, while adult dogs can handle longer walks. If you are waiting to feed your dog until after the walk, keep in mind that they may have less energy than if they have already eaten within the hour. 

There are pros and cons to walking your dog before or after they eat, so just be sure to choose the exercise routine that works for you and your dog. If you have questions about your dog’s susceptibility to bloat, consult with a vet.