FEEDING BEFORE EXERCISE

If you are running in the morning, it is best to wait to feed your dog until after you return from your run. It is especially important to be conscientious not to feed deep chested dogs prior to or during a run (or intensive exercise) because they may fall victim to bloat or GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus). 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. This condition will usually occur within the first two hours of feeding a dog and can be very serious and if not quickly treated, can progress to gastric torsion (where the stomach twists around on itself). Examples of deep chested breeds and some at risk breeds are:

 

  • Newfoundland

  • Greyhound

  • Labrador

  • Golden Retriever

  • German Shepherd

  • Bernese Mountain Dog

  • Weimeraner

  • Pointer

  • Wolfhound

  • Bloodhound

  • Great Dane  

 

It can however occur in all dogs but please take extra care if your pooch is on the larger breed scale.

 

If you prefer to venture out in the afternoon or evening for a run with your dog, this is somewhat 'riskier' since according to PetMD, the canine digestive system takes anywhere from 8 to 10 hours to digest a meal fully, but it can take as long as 12 or as quick as 4 depending on your dog’s breed and the type of food consumed. The simple answer? It depends on your dog as to how long full digestion will take. With breed, age, exercise, diet and the organs that make up a dog’s digestive cycle, the digestive tract is one of the hardest areas to monitor in our dogs. As a generalisation, small dogs digestion is around four hours or so, and for larger dogs it's around eight hours.

 
When you return from your adventure you also need to allow your dog to cool down before allowing them to gulp a lot of water or have their well deserved meal. Your immediate goal should be for your dog to unwind and settle down. Their panting should gradually slow down and they can 
re-hydrate with several sips of water but ensure they don't gulp.  For deep chested dogs we recommend waiting an hour before feeding them their normal meal. For your regular chested dogs most of the recommendations suggest that waiting half an hour to one hour as sufficient. This will depend on the individual dogs recovery and the intensity of the exercise they are recovering from. Delaying feeding also assists your dog's digestion process and prevents them from experiencing potential issues with digestion. There has not been any scientifically established safe time but in general, after feeding you should wait no less than two hours before re-starting exercise.

Remain in close proximity to your dog for 10-15 minutes after you arrive home to ensure they have returned to a rested/settled state. If you feel their panting has remained too heavy and is not slowing down, or your dog seems disoriented or weak, call your veterinarian immediately. 

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