Exercising a Dog After Eating – How Long to Wait Before a Walk

This article will focus on exercising dogs after eating.

It’s not uncommon to see dog owners feeding their dogs immediately before or after exercising.

Just as we tend to eat a snack before and after working out, it seems logical that our dogs would need one too. However, feeding your dog too much before exercise can lead to bloat.

Bloat, or Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV), occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air, fluid or food and then twists on itself so nothing can pass through. GDV can cause serious damage to your pet’s organs without immediate veterinary attention and can even be fatal!

If you are questioning when to feed and walk my dog? Keep reading to find out how long to wait to feed dogs after exercise. Should you walk or feed the dog first in the morning? What to do if your pet gets gastric torsion or bloat?

Why Your Dog’s Feeding Schedule is Important

Consistency is key when it comes to a dog’s exercise and feeding schedule. Dog parents need to feed at regular intervals; usually every 6-8 hours, as your pet’s metabolism will get used to this pattern.

It’s also crucial to ensure your dog doesn’t eat before or after vigorous exercise sessions.

What is Bloat?

Bloat is known more scientifically as gastric dilatation-volvulus. It is a life-threatening condition in a dog that requires immediate medical treatment. It can be caused by too much exercise for your dog after eating, your pooch eating too fast or the type of food they eat.

Dogs suffering from bloat will be in a lot of pain as the stomach twists trapping gases and cutting off the blood supply.

The Signs Of A Stomach Twist

The symptoms of GDV can appear suddenly and common signs generally include

  • A distended hard belly
  • Retching but unable to actually vomit
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pain when the tummy is touched
  • Pale gums
  • Panting, restlessness or other signs of distress

If your four-legged friend exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s essential to get them to the vet and fast!

Treatment For Bloat

Your dog needs to be treated quickly if they have bloat. Your vet will perform a scan first to confirm the diagnosis and then use a stomach pump to release gas build-up, which takes the pressure off other organs. Sometimes surgery may be needed.

At the same time, they will also administer intravenous fluids to reverse shock and slow down the heart rate. Antibiotics and pain medication are often prescribed to combat any damage done to the heart caused by a lack of blood flow.

Suppose a dog is stable after the initial treatment. In that case, it will still need surgery to repair any damage to the stomach. The risk is high that they will have further episodes, so your vet may recommend an operation called gastropexy; this is where the digestive tract is flipped over and sewn down.

All this is expensive and could cost you thousands of pounds which is why dog owners need to understand the risks and do what they can to prevent it from happening.

Dog breeds prone to this condition

Large breed dogs with deeper chests like German Shepherds tend to develop bloat more easily, although walking with a small dog after a meal isn’t recommended either. Below are some breeds that are prone to bloat.

  • Labradors
  • Leonbergers
  • Weimaraners
  • Great Danes
  • Standard Poodles
  • Boxers
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Newfoundlands
  • Setters
  • St Bernards
  • Bassett Hounds

If your vet thinks your dog may be at risk, they may suggest a gastropexy at a young age as a preventive measure to avoid future health issues.

How to minimise the risk factors

Although breeds with this body shape are most at risk, there are some things you can do to prevent bloat from occurring.

  • Feeding your pup two smaller meals daily rather than one large meal can help.
  • Make sure fresh water is available constantly, so they don’t drink a large volume in one go and never give them iced water.
  • If you have a bigger dog, don’t let them wolf down their food. If you have a Lab or a pooch that inhales their food, use a slow feeder, or snuffle mat, so they eat each meal at a slow pace.
  • Wait at least one hour to feed your furry friend after a walk or exercise this will give them a chance to recover.
  • Don’t use an elevated surface. It was thought elevated feeding bowls prevented bloat in the past, but recent studies have shown this not to be the case.
  • If you feed dog kibble, soak it beforehand or avoid it altogether, kibble absorbs moisture in the stomach, which causes it to increase in volume.
  • Never walk your dog straight after a big meal.

How Long to Wait to Feed a Dog After Exercise?

As a general rule of thumb, vets recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after physical activity or a walk.

If you are wondering whether to walk or feed your dog first in the morning, walking is better; you can safely walk your dog on an empty stomach, although if you are going a longer distance, you could take a treat or two.

Walking Dogs After Eating?

It would be best to feed your dog at least two hours before strolling briskly around the block or visiting the dog park to allow ample time for their meals to digest and avoid gastric dilatation.

Other Ways for Dog Owners to Keep Their Pooch Active

It’s essential that your best friend gets enough exercise. Our dog walking guides show it’s best to walk your dog in the morning and evening, about an hour before they eat.

Gentle exercises can be a fantastic addition to dog walks and most dogs will happily try something new like Cavalettor scent work, especially if it involves treats.


How Long After Eating Does A Dog Get Bloat?

Symptoms typically appear 2-3 hours after eating large meals, although they can occur at any time. This is why you should never exercise your dog immediately after eating.

Should I Feed My Dog Before Or After A Walk?

The best time to feed your dog is around an hour after strenuous exercise. This will give their bodies a chance to recover. Find out how many walks a dog needs and never walk your dog after eating.

How Long Should My Dog Walk?

It depends on the dog; some dogs need 2-3 hours of exercise daily, while others, such as an older or small dog, may only need around 30 minutes of dog walking. Between one and three miles is an adequate walking distance for most canines, with some extra dog play time in between.


Never walk your dog after eating as it puts them at risk of developing bloat, sometimes called GDV. Walking before feeding your dog is much better, leaving 30 minutes to an hour before their next meal.

Large breeds with deep chests are more prone to bloat, but it can occur in any breed.

We recommend waiting at least an hour after walks before letting them tuck into their meal and at least two hours to be completely safe if you feed them before exercise. Of course, one hour may be sufficient if your dog has eaten a light meal or small snack.

We hope this article has been helpful; stay in touch by checking our social media channels for more exercise tips!

John Devlin

Hi, my name is John, and I am the founder of Dogsbarn – a UK-based website dedicated to helping the owners of furry friends enjoy life with their four-legged companion. We currently own two golden retrievers, George and Henry, who love running around in the park together. We are thinking about adding a third – called Frank! Our mission is to provide excellent guides and introduce great products we’ve bought or come across online.