Is It Better to Feed a Dog Before or After Exercise?

by Naomi Millburn
    Big dogs are often especially susceptible to bloat.

    Big dogs are often especially susceptible to bloat.

    Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    When it comes to your dog's feeding schedule, consistency is the key to success. Not only is it important to be consistent in when exactly you give your pet his meals, it's also essential to make sure he never eats too close to his exercise sessions.

    Feeding After Exercise

    Feeding your pet after exercise is preferable to doing so beforehand, according to Penny Taylor, author of "Running Dogs Maintenance," but you don't want to feed him immediately after he's exercised. Avoid feeding your pet while he's warm and panting from his workout. If you refrain from feeding your pooch for a minimum of 1 hour after exercise, you can stop him from experiencing potential issues with digestion. After feeding, you should wait no less than four hours before starting exercise.

    Tummy Troubles and Bloat

    If your dog eats at any time too close to his workouts, it can affect his body's ability to metabolize his nosh. This can lead to unpleasant tummy troubles such as vomiting. Importantly, it can also sometimes be a factor in a potentially fatal medical condition known as bloat. Bloat involves the expansion of the stomach due to food, liquids and air. Some common indications of the problem are a conspicuously swollen stomach, a fast heartbeat, feebleness, problems breathing and drooling. Minimize your dog's chances of experiencing bloat by never timing his meals too close to his workouts and feeding him at ground level, not on an elevated surface. Dogs with deep chests are more susceptible.

    Relaxation Time

    After your pet exercises, give him a calm and low-key relaxation period of roughly an hour before mealtime. Keep things somewhat silent at this time. Not only can eating right after exercise be problematic for dogs, so can emotions such as anxiety, frustration and exhilaration. After your dog wraps up his exercise, your immediate goal should be for him to unwind and settle down. Relaxation can make your dog's digestion process go smoother and easier.

    Water Intake and Exercise

    While it's vital to make sure pets are properly hydrated at all times, it's also crucial to make sure they aren't excessive with their water intake prior to exercise. And it's essential to make sure they aren't excessive with it right after. If your thirsty pooch guzzles his entire bowl of water as soon as he's through with a run around the park, for example, he's liable to throw up. Instead of letting the dog guzzle right before or after exercise, allow him several sips of H20.

    Forms of Exercise

    Dogs' exercise needs differ depending on factors such as breed and age. For some pooches, suitable daily exercise is a short stroll in the local dog park or down the street. For others, exercise needs are greater and may include swimming, agility, retrieving, running or advanced training. If you're not sure about your pet's specific exercise needs, talk to your veterinarian. Regardless of what exercise you'll give your dog, it's important to avoid feeding him close to exercise sessions.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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