As dog owners, we tend to be overly concerned about things that don’t matter too much. Part of the reason for this worry is due to the internet. The internet has a funny way of turning tiny issues that don’t really matter into huge deals.
One of those claims going around the internet right now is that you should never feed your dog before a walk, but is that true?
No, not really. But it’s not wrong either.
What do I mean?
The case can be made (scientifically) for either way. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which is better for you and your dog.
Below we will go over the pros and cons of feeding your dog before a walk and after a walk. My hope is that as you read through these pro’s and con’s, you will see that it’s really not a big deal either way (in most cases)
The Case For Feeding Your Dog After a Walk
If you’ve already started doing your research on this topic, there’s a good chance you’ve come across multiple articles that say you should feed your dog after walking them instead of before.
The primary reason for this recommendation is to avoid something serious called a stomach twist (also known as gastric torsion). This occurs when excessive air gets trapped in the stomach which can cause the stomach to twist or rotate during a sharp movement.
Although this is a serious condition, it’s really not something to worry about. The odds of your dog getting a stomach twist from going on a simple walk are pretty slim.
Besides, the risk is always going to be there whether you take them on a walk or not. It’s not like dogs are going to eat and then immediately go back to sleep. Even if you don’t take them on a walk, they’re still going to be active and run around.
So if the primary reason for feeding your dog after a walk isn’t because of increased risk of stomach twist, what is the primary reason?
To avoid lethargy! This isn’t true in all dogs, but some dogs become lazy after they eat (just like a lot of us humans do).
Think about it…when you have a big meal, do you really want to go out and exercise right after? Didn’t think so!
The same is true with your dog. If you’re feeding them right before a walk and they’re acting lazy, try feeding them after.
Another reason is to make them exert energy before eating. We need to remember that dogs are naturally wild animals that have been domesticated.
This means that instinctively they should be working for their food. Animals out in the wild need to hunt for food. In other words, they have to exert effort and energy before they consume food.
Although taking your dog on a walk isn’t the same as hunting for food, it’s still a way for your dog to exert effort and energy before eating.
The Case For Feeding Your Dog Before a Walk
I personally choose to feed my dogs before we go on a walk. The primary reason for this is because it creates a more consistent bathroom schedule.
Dogs tend to use the bathroom quickly after they eat, so when you take them on a walk, you are creating a more consistent schedule for them.
Since there isn’t much danger in taking your dog for a walk after they eat, you should choose which option is more convenient for you. In my case, it’s much more convenient for me to feed my dogs before a walk.
Whichever choice you make, it’s essential to follow the 30-minute rule.
The 30 Minute Rule
Remember that stomach twist issue we talked about above? Although it’s rare for your dog to get it from going on a walk, it’s best to minimize the possibility as much as possible.
There are “experts” who claim your dog can get stomach twist when they eat before going on a walk, but what those guys never talk about is your dog can just as easily get it if you feed them right after a walk when they are still panting and have an elevated heart rate.
The solution is simple. If you choose to feed them before a walk, wait 30 minutes before taking them on a walk. If you decide to feed them after a walk, wait 30 minutes after the walk before feeding them.
Is There a Best Time to Feed Them?
Now that you know it doesn’t really matter if you feed your dog 30 minutes before a walk or 30 minutes after a walk, the next question you might have is whether or not there is a good time of the day to feed them.
Keep in mind healthy adult dogs should be fed twice per day, 12 hours apart. The same is true with elderly dogs, but they require less food. Puppies need to be fed 3 times per day, and their walks should be much shorter.
With that in mind, assuming you have a healthy adult dog, the time of day you feed them doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent. Dogs are great at adapting to schedules. If you choose to feed them at 5am and 5pm, they will adjust to that schedule. If you decide to feed them at 10am and 10pm, they will also adjust to that schedule.
Do I Need To Walk My Dog Each Time They Eat?
There’s a lot of variables that go into this. Dogs really only “need” one walk per day that lasts about 20-30 minutes (some breeds require more, some require less).
However, if you don’t have a backyard you can use to let them go to the bathroom, then you’ll need to take your pup on at least two 5-10 minute “potty walks” so they can go to the bathroom.
Ending The Myths
There’s a lot of myths out there regarding dogs. Most of them get started as a marketing ploy in an attempt to sell products.
The myth of NEEDING to walk your dog before they eat is nothing more than that…a myth.
The TRUTH is that there’s no right answer. As long as you stick to the 30-minute rule, you can select whichever one is more convenient for you.
Just keep in mind dogs are creatures of habit, so whether you decide to feed them before or after a walk, just make sure you are consistent.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.