Is it better to feed a dog before or after exercise?

Dogs need exercise. A great walk should do, you may think. Perhaps, yes!

But, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Walking your dog during the wrong time can cause various problems. So, should I not walk my dog? No, you should. It is good to set a routine for your dog and walk him during that time. Before you do all of this, I’d suggest that you read this blog, avoid the most common mistakes most pet parents make, and learn whether to feed a dog before or after exercise.

 Should I walk my dog before or after food?

Bloating is common when it comes to big dogs. Therefore, consistency in feeding is essential. As a pet parent, it is your duty to ensure that he isn’t fed close to his exercise time.

This brings us to your next question, “Should I feed a dog before or after exercise ?”

It is always advisable to feed a dog after the walk but not immediately after the walk. Leave a considerable time, say half an hour to 45 minutes, before you give him his meal. Feeding your pet while he is still warm and panting from his walk can cause digestive problems.

What are the problems of feeding a dog before or after exercise?

In case you choose to feed him before the walk, wait for at least an hour before you take him out on a walk. Failing to do this, can result in GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus). 

GDV is a concern that is caused by the twisting of the dog’s stomach. This is caused when a dog has a hefty meal before vigorous exercise, stress, anxiety, etc.  This affects the dog’s metabolism and leads to nausea and vomiting. It can also lead to bloating. Bloating involves the expansion of the stomach which is caused due to food, or expansion where the air accumulates. Swollen stomach, increase in heartbeat, harsh breathing and drooling are common symptoms.

GDV is a life-threatening condition and is common in big breeds. If affected by GDV, the mortality rates range from 10 to 30 percent after treatment.

When a dog is fed right after or before his walk, it causes a dysfunction in the sphincter which is placed between the stomach and esophagus.

Here is a scan report of how this condition would look like:

feed a dog before or after exercise

This condition causes a twist in the stomach around the longitudinal axis called the Volvulus in the digestive tract and this causes the gas distension. When this occurs the stomach rotates at 360 degrees If the Volvulus is placed above 180 degrees, the esophagus gets closed which results in bleaching and vomiting.

Treatment for GDV

GDV is fatal and can become life-threatening in a matter of a few minutes.

Treatment of GDV involves intravenous fluid therapy and sometimes surgery. During the surgery, the stomach is pulled back to its original position. Although this would be done under Anesthesia, it can be a very painful process post-surgery for your dog.

Which time would be best to feed my dog?

Humans follow a routine when it comes to food, breakfast at 8, lunch at 2, tea at 6 and dinner at 9. But, does that mean that your dog has to follow the same as well? Not necessary. Each dog differs when it comes to food. Just like humans, your dog can be a light-eater as well. And, there are dogs, who want more food. It all comes down to how well you understand your dog’s food habits.

As a new pet parent, finding this out initially might be a daunting task. If you prefer feeding your dog twice a day, it is recommended that you do this once early in the morning at around 7-8 and then again in the evening at around 6. This is because a canine digestive system will often require 4 to 5 hours to digest the food. It takes about 8 hours after the initial feed for the dog to feel hungry again. This is when the dog would start searching for food. Feeding your dog at this time will ensure that he eats the food completely. If you have a puppy, then it is advised that you feed him at least 4 times a day. If you have a senior dog, it is advised that you follow a once in a day approach or feed small quantities of food at different intervals. This entirely depends on the type of dog and his eating habits. If you have a hyperactive dog, you might have to look at feeding them more than two times a day as most of their energy is drained by their activities. You can also consider leaving the food in the bowl all the time so that they eat when they require it. This is not to be followed if your dog is suffering from diabetes or any other health issues.

That said, there is no hard rule on when you should feed your dog. It all comes down to what activity your dog does and how much energy is needed by your dog. If your dog is hungry, make sure you feed him and not wait until his feeding schedule. A feeding schedule often helps working pet parents to make sure that their dog is fed properly. But, otherwise, it all depends on your dog and when he wants to eat. 

The bottom line, make sure that you give adequate time between the meal and the exercise. This ensures that your dog has a healthy life. 

Now you know whether to feed a dog before or after exercise. Go on, start applying it to your pet’s routine and make them healthy.

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