You’ve fed your dog. Only 30 minutes later and you want to take them out for a walk. Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s all your current schedule can allow. But should you do this? Well, here is what you are going to want to know.
So, can I walk my dog 30 minutes after eating? It is not generally recommended that you walk your dog 30 minutes after eating. An hour after, or better yet, feeding them 1 hour after you return is advised instead.
Would you want to go for a walk straight after dinner?
You might actually.
But that doesn’t mean it’s good, or you should.
The same goes for dogs.
They need some time to digest their food, after all.
So, let’s delve into exactly how you can optimize feeding and exercising, making it practical for both you and your dog alike!
How Long Should I Wait to Walk My Dog After Eating?
The length of time you should wait to walk your dog after eating depends on several things: how your dog eats, how quickly he’ll digest the food, and his breed. However, the general rule is to wait at least half an hour after a snack, one hour after a light helping of food, and two to three hours if your dog has eaten a large helping.
How Your Dog Eats Matters
The more food your dog has just eaten, the longer you’ll have to wait before taking him for a walk. Here are a few ideas to help his digestion before exercise:
- Two smaller meals are always better for your dog than one large meal. As with human beings, the bigger the portion, the more your dog will tend to eat.
- Always have fresh water available to avoid your dog gulping down lots of water after his meal.
- Don’t let your dog wolf down his food too quickly. Try feeding him when he isn’t overexcited (easier said than done!)
- Try to help your dog be calm when he eats. Some dogs gulp in excess air out of anxiety or excitement, which can cause problems.
- Don’t engage in any play or other form of exercise with your dog until at least two hours after he’s eaten.
How Long It Takes To Digest Food
Dogs usually need anywhere from four to eight or even as much as ten hours to digest food. The amount of time depends on their age, their breed, and what they’ve eaten.
Here are some general guidelines:
- Puppies tend to digest their meals in about 4 hours
- Adult dogs need about 8 hours
- As their systems slow with age, senior dogs take longer to digest their food (like humans)
- Meals containing lots of grains take longer to digest than meals with mostly protein
- The more energy your dog expends, the more efficient his digestive system will be
Breeds Who Tend To Overeat Or Eat Quickly
Some dog breeds have a higher tendency than others to eat too much or too quickly, both of which can affect their digestion.
These breeds love their food and will benefit from extra ‘waiting time’ after eating and before exercise:
- Bull terriers
- Norwegian Elkhounds
- Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retrievers
- Welsh Corgis
Is It Better To Feed Your Dog Before Or After A Walk?
It is better to feed your dog after a walk. This will ensure they properly digest their food while also preventing issues such as acid reflux, and general lethargy.
Some owners are concerned their dogs won’t have enough energy to play and exercise if they don’t eat before a walk.
There are many benefits to feeding your dog after a walk, whereas there are no benefits to feeding him before going for a walk.
What To Know About Feeding Your Dog After A Walk
A walk without food is totally safe for your dog, as long as your dog is getting a balanced diet.
Dogs are made to be able to go without food for long periods of time (provided they are healthy). They have descended from wolves, after all: in nature, the right food isn’t always available.
Technically speaking, dogs who are in good health can survive an entire week on just water. This doesn’t mean you should fast your dog, though.
It just means your dog can safely go for a long walk without having eaten beforehand.
Walking your dog before he eats may help bring out his natural hunting instincts. After all, dogs in the wild have to run and hunt before eating.
For heavier dogs who may be on a weight reduction program, it’s beneficial for your dog to expend some energy and burn off calories before being fed.
What To Know About Feeding Your Dog Before A Walk
If you want to feed your dog before a walk, you will definitely want to wait after each meal, which can wreak havoc with potty training or a toilet schedule.
No matter what type of dog you have, he’ll need to go outside to go to the toilet shortly after he’s eaten.
But he won’t be able to go for a longer walk yet, so you’ll only be bringing him inside again to finish waiting until he’s digested his food.
How Long Should I Wait To Feed My Dog After A Walk?
You will want to wait at least 30 to 45 minutes to feed your dog after a walk to reduce the risk of him wolfing down his food in excitement. There are also potential health problems if a dog eats immediately after exercise.
If you feed your dog immediately after exercise while he is still panting and warm, he could experience digestive problems.
The digestive problem that has most people concerned is GDV (gastric dilatation-volvulus). GDV is also referred to as a twisted stomach, gut torsion, or dog bloat.
Some say that feeding your dog after a walk will reduce the chances of GDV. However, GDV can occur for a variety of reasons:
- Large meals
- Vigorous exercise
- Anxiety or stress
Breeds with deep chests such as Greyhounds, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds are more prone to GDV, although any dog can get it.
GDV usually happens within the first two hours of a meal, especially if it’s a large one.
Here are some signs of GDV to look out for:
- Swollen or painful abdomen
- Drooling (more than usual)
- Restlessness (e.g., pacing)
- Signs of anxiety (whining, excessive grooming, etc.)
If you see any of the above signs and suspect it might be GDV, contact your vet immediately. GDV can be life-threatening if not caught in time.
Other Feeding And Walking Best Practices To Consider
There are certain times of day when it’s usually best to feed and walk your dog. There’s also a distinction to be made between walking your dog for exercise and taking him outside to use the toilet. In addition, you can apply simple strategies to improve your dog’s digestive tract.
Best Times of Day To Feed Your Dog
The optimal time of day to feed your dog depends on their age:
- Puppies usually need three meals a day once they’re 4 months old. They are growing quickly and need lots of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
- Fully grown dogs usually need two meals a day, with a gap of 4 to 6 hours between meals. A long gap allows your dog to fully digest each meal before eating again.
- Mature dogs are better off eating once in the morning (after their walk) and once in the evening.
Best Times Of Day For Walking Your Dog
The optimum times of day for walking your dog are at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon or early evening.
Make your morning walk the longest one: your dog should be fully rested from a good night’s sleep and will want lots of exercise and stimulation to start his day.
Afternoon or evening walks are good for relaxed strolls to help your dog wind down and burn off any excess energy before he settles down for a quiet evening.
The last thing you want is for your dog to be overexcited while trying to get him to settle down to sleep!
How Long To Walk Your Dog
The amount of time each walk lasts for your dog will depend on his age, his health condition, and his breed.
Some dogs need 2 to 3 hours of walking per day, whereas others are fine with two 20-30-minute walks.
Consider your dog’s personality, too, and how much energy he has and his desire to exercise.
Bear in mind, though, that puppies will run and play till they drop!
Puppies can generally walk for 5 minutes for every month of age, so a 4-month-old puppy is good for 20-minute walks.
Walking For Exercise Vs. Going To The Toilet
It’s important to make a distinction between walking your dog for exercise and taking him outside to go to the toilet.
Dogs will need to go to the toilet soon after they’ve eaten (especially puppies).
You’ll need to take your dog outside after he’s had any kind of food to help him develop good toilet habits.
Puppies go to the toilet way more often than adult dogs do: you’ll find yourself going out up to 3 times more often per day.
Take your puppy outside anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour after he’s eaten, but don’t take him on a walk as such.
In addition, remember that dogs who have a diet of low-quality dog food with lots of fillers will need to go to the toilet more often than dogs who eat a healthy diet.
Improving Your Dog’s Digestive Tract
The more effective your dog’s digestive tract, the more he’ll enjoy his walks, no matter what time of day. We all know that there’s nothing worse than having to walk with a full stomach.
Here are some ideas to help your dog’s digestion:
- Try probiotic supplements, many of which are now being included in dog food toppers
- Avoid feeding your dog table scraps. Many ingredients in human food aren’t suitable for animals
- Make sure ‘meat’ is listed as the first ingredient in any dog food that you buy. Not ‘meat flavor’, but actual meat. Dog food labels can be tricky to decipher: a ‘doggie dinner with beef’ only has to contain 3% of actual meat!
- Try dog food that’s grain-free. There are other forms of fiber that can help your dog’s digestive tract, such as beet pulp
- Help your dog avoid stress. Stress, for both humans and animals, is a contributor to digestive problems.
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Can you walk your dog after 30 minutes of eating. You could.
Is it advisable? It certainly isn’t.
Sure it may be possible if your dog has eaten an small snack, but it really isn’t a good idea if they have eaten a heavy meal.
So for the most part, wait an hour.
Or better still, feed them a little while after returning home!
It is generally best for at least 2 hours to have passed before a dog runs after eating. However, the amount they have eaten, the type of food, their age, and how strenuous the running is (and how long they run for) can influence this time.
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I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.