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If your dog is desexed, It may need 20-40% less food than you are currently giving it. Here’s Why!

Spaying or neutering your dog is a good idea if you have no intention of breeding – it can make your life easier because you don’t have to worry about your female going into heat and your male dog marking in your house. It makes both sexes much less likely to run away from home as well.

But desexing a dog does change them – you are affecting their hormone levels after all. And many studies have shown that spayed and neutered dogs have a higher rate of obesity than dogs left intact.

Why is that?

Because hormones are what run the bodies of all animals and when you desex them, you change those hormones.

Some of the “effects” of desexing a dog (male or female) include less energy and a bigger appetite. Couple that with changes to your dog’s metabolism, which affects fat storage, and you have a recipe for an obese, fixed dog if you don’t change their diet and exercise.

When a dog is spayed or neutered, it leads to a reduction of the sex hormones: testosterone in males and estrogen in females. These hormones affect a lot more than just sex drive. And while the reproductive organs are not the only place hormones are created, the adrenal glands now have to work a bit harder to create those hormones to keep the body functioning properly.

One of the big side effects to those missing hormones, is the slowing down of your dog’s metabolism. This means that in order to keep that optimum body condition score (showing 2 or 3 ribs), they will need less food and/or more exercise. Your dog may need as much as a 20-40% reduction in their food (depending on how much you can increase his exercise level) to keep him from getting fat.

Of course, this will depend on a great many factors, including overall health, age, energy level, etc., but the important thing is that you realize you will need to reduce your dog’s food once they are recovered from surgery (you may not want to reduce food while they are recovering as you want them to have plenty of energy to heal). Your dog won’t immediately start gaining weight, since they will have hormones still circulating in their body post-surgery – around 3 weeks for females and 4-6 weeks for males. (By the way, a neutered male dog can still potentially breed during that time, so you still want to keep him away from intact females for about a month and half after surgery).

Once your dog is healed from his surgery, it’s time to up that exercise and lower that food intake. Some dogs may be less energetic after being desexed, depending on how it affects them. Each dog is different. In those cases, you may find it’s easier to reduce their food intake a bit more, if you just can’t get them to exercise. Other dogs will have no change in their energy level and will be happy for the extra game of fetch or a longer walk or run.

Once your dog is healed from his surgery, it’s time to up that exercise and lower that food intake. Some dogs may be less energetic after being desexed, depending on how it affects them. Each dog is different. In those cases, you may find it’s easier to reduce their food intake a bit more, if you just can’t get them to exercise. Other dogs will have no change in their energy level and will be happy for the extra game of fetch or a longer walk or run.

The main thing is to keep an eye on your dog’s weight, so that he is not getting too fat or too thin, as his body adjusts. You may have to play with the amounts for a bit as his hormone’s even out, and that’s okay. Just remember to keep those 2 or 3 ribs in sight to keep your dog healthy and avoid all those problems that come with obesity.

8 thoughts on “If your dog is desexed, It may need 20-40% less food than you are currently giving it. Here’s Why!

  1. Jackie Bonnici says:

    In the States they can and do perform ‘ovarian sparing’ procedures on females (not sure what the can do for males). With new research showing disadvantages of current neutering, why can’t they do that here? And isn’t there some kind of vasectomy they could perform on males? I think it’s well accepted now that hormones are engaged in so much more than reproduction.

    1. Robert says:

      I’m with you Jackie. My current moral dilemma is how society abhors ear and tail docking but cutting functioning sex organs off an unsuspecting animal is just “normal” in fact if you don’t do it to your pet you are considered an irresponsible member of society. I’m pretty sure vasectomy type operations are possible and all they would have to do is add a tattoo or some kind of marking system so people know its had the operation. And like you mentioned the animal can live a more normal life with normal hormone levels.

  2. Jackie Bonnici says:

    Hi Rob..my sentiments entirely! Times and knowledge change..we need to keep up to date with the latest research so we can do the very best for our furry family.

  3. Astrid LAMONT says:

    It’s time we asked for vasectomies of our vets. I had my pup desexed at 16 months but really wanted to wait. When you have a contract with a breeder and councils, dog and cat boards pushing for desexing at 6 months that’s just criminal

  4. Astrid LAMONT says:

    It’s time we asked for vasectomies of our vets. I had my pup desexed at 16 months but really wanted to wait. When you have a contract with a breeder to desex that’s one thing and councils, dog and cat boards pushing for desexing at 6 months that’s just criminal if you’re a responsible pet owner

    1. Robert says:

      Hi Astrid, id like to see a movement towards vasectomies. Also the other option is keeping every part on the dog. Responsible owners should not be panelized by councils if they don’t want to desex their dog.

  5. Lulu says:

    Desexing is so part of the fabric of the norm that I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realise till reading this article that desexing is actually removing ALL their bits. Ever since I can remember as a kid I always thought ‘desexing’ meant ‘stopping the ability for the sperm to reach the egg’, like the Pill, but permanent. I’d heard of friends’ dads’ having vasectomies and thought desexing must be that, because they’d joke and say “Dad has been desexed”. I didn’t realise it meant taking out all those important IMPORTANT parts animals need to balance so many systems. I feel like I’ve done my animals wrong, so wrong. And the vets don’t explain one iota that it’s actually removing all their good hormone PRODUCING things. Forever. I’m horrified. I’m speechless that they actually do this to our cats and dogs, and councils demand it. Who the hell are they to demand this?? … it ceases about 30% of their life and health. What’s in it for them, the vets? I feel so sorry to my pets, my ignorance has cost my animals their happy hormones, what a crap time they must be having deep down without being able to say… Thank you for this article. I am going to research this and get active on what I learn. Stay Loyal people, thank you.

  6. Jan says:

    I have just had my female dog desexed and am feeling heart felt for her. She is just turned 4. I have had her we 4 months. Prior to that she was breeding stock and in 3 1/2 years had 3 litters if 10 pups.
    When I got her she was still lactating and her pups were 6 weeks old.
    All she has known in her life is to breed. I have done the responsible thing and had her spayed. But if she hears a puppy she has a reaction. I just feel after only knowing breeding it is instant menopause and in her case not emotionally good for her. If they could have just left the ovaries it wouldn’t be so bad for her.

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