Why Do Dogs Play After Eating

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You’ve poured the kibble and your dog chowed down. He took a few sips of water, licked his snout, and decided he was happy with his dinner. After a good meal, you like to have a rest, but your dog is quite the opposite. He grabs a toy, runs around the house, puts it at your feet, doesn’t let you play with it, and just trots all over the house toting this toy. If you let him outside, he runs all over the yard and plays happily. He might stand at his leash, signaling he wants a walk. This burst of energy is surprising and needs to be carefully handled. Humans follow the rule “don’t swim for 30 minutes after eating.” Dogs should follow the rule “don’t play after eating.”

The Root of the Behavior

If your dog has a sudden burst of energy after eating, there are a few things to consider. Not all dog food is created equal, and some dog food is loaded with carbohydrates and sugar. If you feed him prepackaged foods, inspect the label for ingredients. When looking at ingredients, keep an eye out for high sugar and carbohydrates content. Foods with sugar, carbs, and fillers might be the root of your dog’s bounciness after eating. Dogs don’t need a lot of carbs and if he eats too many, it might just give him that burst of energy to play. Did you just change the dog food brand or increase the amount? A new ingredient can cause an allergic reaction or response in the form of energy for your dog. When you change his food, his response might be more emotional than physical. He might be excited by the new food’s taste or anxious that it’s been changed.

If he’s toting a toy around the house, he might be telling you different things. Does your pup beg at your feet to play tug-o-war with you? Is he eager to play fetch? He might be telling you that he needs some entertainment or stimulation. Does he sit down and chew his toy, rather than interact with you? If he’s just chewing, he could be calming himself after a delicious meal. His chewing might also be related to keeping his smile pretty. He might also have a toothache or is trying to clean out his teeth. The amount of time passed after your dog eats can also indicate his needs. Does he beg to go on a walk 15-30 minutes after eating? He might just need to relieve himself. Eating gets his digestive system moving and that’s just about the time he’ll need a leisurely stroll. 

Encouraging the Behavior

Your dog needs to follow a stricter no swimming rule than humans do. A dog should not play at least two hours after eating. This includes playing fetch, running, chasing dogs or any creatures, or going on vigorous walks. Playing after eating can become a serious and sometimes fatal problem for dogs, especially larger ones. A condition called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) commonly known as bloat happens if a dog runs around after eating or eats too quickly, or both. The stomach can twist, which prevents gas from exiting the stomach and this causes bloat. The twisted stomach also inhibits the flow of blood to other organs and it goes back to the heart, causing arrhythmias or full body shock. The inflation of the stomach makes it difficult for a dog to breath. 

Bloat is serious and can be a fatal condition if it’s not treated quickly. Signs of bloat include trying to vomit without success, enlarged stomach, stomach pain and discomfort, collapsing, labored breathing, excessive drooling, or a pale nose and mouth. You must take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect bloat. If your dog needs a walk 30 minutes or so after eating, he probably just needs to relieve himself. Keep the walk leisurely and short. You can take him on a long walk a few hours after he’s digested his dinner. His simple chewing on a toy is not for concern, but if he shows signs of a toothache, make sure you take him to the vet. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

If you think your dog needs more stimulation, get him an interactive feeding toy to make mealtime more fun. It will slow down his eating, which reduces the chances for bloat, but also extends his meal enjoyment. Make sure he has a regular playtime and walks so your dog is not anxious about when his next one will be. This consistency will keep his anxiety low. If you are struggling to establish a routine, find the proper food, or how to handle your dog’s energy after eating, go to the vet. He can suggest dog foods that are best for your pup and give you tips on establishing a routine, which hopefully will calm your dog post meals.


Playing with your dog is a great thing, just make sure you wait a few hours after eating. You do not want your dog developing bloat, as it can be serious or even fatal if not treated in time. Give your dog a lot of chances to play and go on walks throughout the day and get him the best food you can.