Tuesday Topics #26 - Breakfast Before or After?

cabana's head photoshopped onto a red pajama top, with a bib under her chin, sitting on a bed with orange pillows behind, there is a breakfast tray with a vase of pink flowers, a plate of kibble, and a wine glass with water in itNo, Cabana doesn't actually get breakfast in bed. However, she usually eats breakfast at about 6:00-6:30am, whether during the week or on weekends (because I have somehow completely lost the ability to sleep in; I can't sleep past 6:30, no matter what day it is).

Then, about an hour later, I take Cabana for a morning walk, usually ending with a romp at a dog park. I often hear other dog owners at the dog park saying things like, "Okay, it's time for Rover to go home and eat breakfast." By this time, it might be 9:00! I always think, wow, that's a late breakfast.

But I know that out in the wild, the natural progression would be that dogs work in order to eat, whether that be herding sheep or hunting for their food or whatnot.

So should I be waiting to feed Cabana breakfast until after our morning walk? Is it better for dogs to do it in this order? Or is it more important to allot enough time after eating before you exercise them? Or since we've already been doing things in this order for her entire life, is it too disruptive to her system to try to change it now? Which do you do first with your dogs?

Natalie  – (May 18, 2010 at 10:07 AM)  

I think you should leave it as is... I know that when either Darrell or I try to sleep in both dogs go crazy - they know its breakfast time. Also, I have a class right now that starts at 8 - Bob's breakfast is at 8:30, so when I asked my puppy raising manager when to feed him (before or after) she said just wake up early and do it then or else he'll be to anxious and won't behave. Also, we are told that they are to have no activity for an hour before and an hour after their meal - to ensure against bloat. If you were to exercise Cabana and then go and feed her she would have to wait a whole more hour before she gets fed..

I know that some people who only feed their dogs once feed in the middle of the day but those dogs are also used to it you know.. Anyways, thats my opinion. Plus if you do change up her food schedule you'll have to expect changes in her digestive schedule.. just a small thing to think about.

L^2  – (May 18, 2010 at 10:42 AM)  

Well, for me it's always been about just making sure there is enough time in between the exercise and the meal - a couple of hours, at least - to help ensure the dog won't develop problems like bloat. I don't think it really matters if the dog eats first or exercises first as long as there is sufficient time in between the two activities for things to settle down.

Willow has always eaten first and exercised later: Now that Willow's not working, she eats at around 8AM and 5PM, and her playtime or walk happens either 3-4 hours before or after those times (when I get out with her depends on the season/weather). But when I first got her and we were running all over a college campus day and night, she always had a small breakfast at around 6AM. We left for class a little before 8 and were then pretty much on the move (or in class) throughout the day. Then she'd have her larger meal around 6-7PM when her working day was for the most part complete and she'd had a chance to relax for a while. If I knew we had to go somewhere at night that would require a lot of effort on her part, then I would make sure we didn't have to leave until at least a couple of hours after her meal (and I adjusted her evening meal time and portion accordingly).

However, when I get my next guide dog, I plan to not feed him/her until later in the morning, because that will suit my schedule/activities better than what I'm doing now with Willow. So, he/she will basically be eating breakfast after the exercise.

Anyway, long story short, if I were you I'd give her at least a couple hours between mealtime and playtime. As big dogs, like Labs, age they are more susceptible to things like bloat - and you definitely don't want that to happen. Some dogs can eat and exercise within a brief time period and never ever have a problem, but to me it seems better to be safe than sorry.

Also, Cabana will adjust to any changes in her schedule - she may not be totally thrilled about it at first, but it will be fine.

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy and Kira  – (May 18, 2010 at 11:27 AM)  

I vary it, if I'm taking Eclipse on an early morning walk (7-7:30 a.m.) I wait to feed him until after his walk partly for bloat reasons but also because I want him to more food motivated than normal for our training program. I change up when my dogs eat breakfast, they can eat as early as 6:30 a.m. or as late as 10.

Alphini's Puppy Raiser  – (May 18, 2010 at 11:47 AM)  

OK, I think the last 2 comments have covered all the bases...but I just have to say...that's a cute picture! ;-)

Katrin  – (May 18, 2010 at 12:31 PM)  

I was going to say what L^2 said about cautioning excerise too close to meal times and the risk of bloat. That is one scary disease. I generally feed 1st thing in the morning when I get up around 8am then we have at least 1hr of rest while I get ready for the day and do some stuff around the house and then our day starts with activity. Dinner for my dogs is after everything for the day is over and we're about to go to bed.

Maggie Mae  – (May 18, 2010 at 12:43 PM)  

Cabana's schedule sounds like mine and it seems to work for me. :)

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

Natalie  – (May 18, 2010 at 1:09 PM)  

P.S. is this picture from Wishbone? (Except for Cabana's face lol)

JackDaddy  – (May 18, 2010 at 1:19 PM)  

I find that Jack eats better if he eats AFTER we take at least one walk.

But sometimes he gets to eat before!

Sierra Rose  – (May 18, 2010 at 1:26 PM)  

Hi ya Cabana!!
Great post! Our typical schedule is up between 7-8...SR is quite patient in her crate if I need to do a few things. Then backyard play/potty...breakfast...tummy settling...and off for a morning exercise. Keep us posted on what you figure out!

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

Sierra Rose  – (May 18, 2010 at 1:28 PM)  

Oh...just remembered...in our first puppy class, the instructor suggested varrying meal times, so us puppers wouldn't become obsessed with 'that' time, and more easily would adapt to different schedules.

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (May 18, 2010 at 3:31 PM)  

Natalie, the original photo didn't have Wishbone in it. I just googled "dog breakfast in bed", and this photo came up! Then, I replace the dog in the image with Cabana's sweet head. ;)

Natalie  – (May 18, 2010 at 4:10 PM)  

lol Oh.. it looked like the kind of thing that would be in a Wishbone show haha. Did ya'll ever watch it?

Lauren and Don  – (May 18, 2010 at 4:23 PM)  

What a cute picture! With Don, I usually feed him around 9:00, but just because I wake up late. I've always fed him before walks- it seems like he does better in terms of training/behavior when his stomach is happy :)

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta  – (May 18, 2010 at 6:01 PM)  

I feed my pups at 6 am and at 4 pm. I have heard to move the schedule around, but I like it consistent so I know when they are going to poo. Especially nice when we are going out in public. I know my dogs schedule in an out that way by keeping it consistent. I don't mind waking up at 5:30 am on weekends to make sure they get fed at a regular schedule either. I will move their dinner around a bit to be more accommodating - but I try to keep it as consistent as possible. I agree with what everyone has said about the bloat issue. And, my - that is an adorable photo!!! I was going to say - wow, she has great skills in regards to not drooling! Mine would be drooling oooogles to stand there and stare at their food while I take a posed picture like that! :D

Becky  – (May 18, 2010 at 7:06 PM)  

How fun is that picture! Cabana, you are one lucky girl - although I have never been a fan of breakfast in bed. We are definitely on the plan of eat, get ready for the day, then work which includes a walk or two throughout the day. Perhaps it would be different if she wasn't a working dog but she needs to be fed, relieved before we start our day and walk. And at this point, after a habit of 3 plus years I think she would protest if I changed things. (she is in charge ... I just follow)

MK  – (May 18, 2010 at 7:19 PM)  

I take my guys out to relieve first, then feed them around 9 or 10, then in the afternoon sometime between 12 until dark they get play time. It works for them especially because Caesar can't go for 12h without a meal as his tummy gets too empty and he throws up too if he's too active right after eating.

Ro  – (May 18, 2010 at 7:24 PM)  

Oh. My. God. I don't know if I just completely brain missed the thing about bloat, or if GDB never told us. I've never, ever heard the thing about rest before and after eating. It's worked out that Jayden rests, just because of our schedule, but this really scared me. I don't think I would have forgotten something so important. I'm pretty sure it was never mentioned at school. I keep the same feeding schedule we had at school, so I feed him when I get up and then again at 4:30. There's plenty of rest before and after, but just today he was active right up until dinner. I'm so scared that I never knew this. I better write a blog about it.

Please keep up Tuesday topics. They help soooo much!

Ok, need to go hug my boy, I'm really freaked out. Phew, now I know.

Maddie and Betsy  – (May 18, 2010 at 9:26 PM)  

Betsy is always rested before breakfast but is active after. And she is active before dinner but takes a nice long nap after. I have never had a problem with bloating, but I guess it depends on the dog. I would say, if Cabana is happy and doing well just leave her be. But if you are worried, better safe than sorry!

Carrie and Waffle  – (May 18, 2010 at 9:26 PM)  

Well glad to hear about the bloat thing had no idea. as for feeding I never stick to a schedule, the dogs eat after I've had breakfast and that is never at the same time. I do that so they don't grow to expect to eat on their schedule but on mine. It only varries by about 1 or 2 hours

Lacey  – (May 18, 2010 at 11:41 PM)  

I think the two guidelines are to try and feed as close to 12 hours apart as possible and to not feed within an hour of moderate or strenuous exercise.

That being said, when its just the older dogs, if I feed them at 6 pm and they let me sleep till 10 am the next day- cool! That hasn't happened in heaven knows how long though 'cause its not just the older dogs anymore! The puppy never lets me sleep later than 7:30 and that's really, really rare. They pretty much always get breakfast between 6:30-7 and dinner between 6:00-6:30. Erie's dinner is delayed twice a week for classes- once because I want her to be super food motivated for that class and once because we do a lot of running, so the exercise thing comes into play.

I do know that there are people who advocate a gorge and fast diet: the dog eats as much as they possibly can and then doesn't eat again for a few days. While I don't actually see anything wrong with this, as this is, like the point you brought up, what dogs do in the wild, I wouldn't do it because natural or not, my dogs aren't wild. They don't have to eat that way.

Interesting discussion. Thank you!

Mandy and Cancun  – (May 18, 2010 at 11:47 PM)  

Ro (and Mimi),

When I had to rush my then 10 year old career change to the emergency vet with a severely bloated stomach 2 years ago, I asked them why he bloated the way he did, since he hadn't had any exercise all day and I thought that was the trigger. The vet told me that there's no conclusive evidence linking bloat to anything - including exercise - only circumstantial stories, etc, but definitely to avoid the whole eating/exercise combo so that pup doesn't lose its meal before/afterward.

Hope that helps!

Raiser Erin  – (May 20, 2010 at 5:50 AM)  

I used to feed Freya at 6:00 after our morning 2 mile walk. But before we moved to a house that allowed us to walk so far so early she would eat before her walk. I don't think that one is better than the other. Leave her feeding schedule as it is unless you notice that she's gaining a lot of weight or is having a bad tummy. But if she's ok with it and healthy then it doesn't really matter.

Hi! I'm Sierra-Dog!  – (May 21, 2010 at 9:41 PM)  

Ok, first we have to say...OH MY GOSH! HOW CUTE IS CABANA IN THAT PIC! What a cutie! Wait...is that only her face? Ok, still totally cute.
About the food- Dexie and I eat every morning but never at the same time- Usually it's anywhere from 5am-9am. Then we swim in the pool. Gosh...should we wait before swimming? Na.. it's been fine.
Well, that was ZERO help!
If Cabana is fine I would say...keep the good thing going. =)
Sierra-dog

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