Neutering is a meaningful stage in a dog’s life, often preventing or stopping problematic male behaviors. But the physiological change in a dog’s body raises concerns and questions, including do dogs gain weight after being neutered?
Due to hormonal changes in a dog’s body — mainly a slower metabolism — weight gain in neutered dogs is common.
A study by the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Science found a 30% likelihood of weight gain or obesity in neutered dogs compared to 10% for intact males.
With a better understanding of the changes in a dog after neutering, you can make the proper adjustments to ensure your dog doesn’t become a statistic of dog obesity.
Should you have your dog neutered?
Having a dog neutered is the right decision for most owners. Unless you have plans to breed your dog, neutering helps to prevent destructive behavior and eliminates certain health risks.
Due to the testosterone in fully intact males, certain problem behaviors are common; these include:
- Indoor urine marking
- Territorial behavior
- Excessive genital grooming
While neutering should curb most testosterone-related behaviors, like marking and roaming, it may not stop all destructive behaviors. Some dogs have masculinity traits from pre-birth testosterone levels.
Even stress and the need for attention can cause mounting in neutered dogs.
Aside from behavior avoidance, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and prostate enlargement, conditions prevalent in older intact male dogs.
Do dogs gain weight after being neutered?
Although weight gain is a side effect of neutering, it isn’t directly responsible for an increase in fat. A dog’s slowing metabolism from hormonal changes is primarily accountable for the weight a dog gains.
Thankfully, the proper lifestyle adjustments can prevent your dog from gaining weight after neutering.
Why do dogs gain weight after being neutered?
After neutering, a dog’s testosterone production stops. An abrupt change in hormonal balance causes its metabolism to slow, reducing the need for calories.
Dogs have dietary needs similar to ours; consume enough calories to sustain daily energy output.
Since many dogs don’t have the self-control we do, they happily eat the same scoop of kibble twice a day, converting excess calories to fat.
Do all dogs gain weight after being neutered?
Some breeds are at a higher risk of obesity. The dog breeds prone to obesity are typically low-energy loungers, like the Bulldog. Still, even Labrador and Golden Retrievers have high obesity risk due to a genetic mutation causing overeating.
Dog breeds at high risk of weight gain are:
- Cocker Spaniel
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
Active dog breeds — especially those with large yards able to free roam — do better in avoiding weight gain.
It’s impossible to know exactly how your dog will respond to neutering, so it’s best to maintain your regular diet and exercise routine. With no changes in diet and exercise, you can isolate neutering as the cause of weight gain and make adjustments as needed.
Observing for weight gain in dogs
There are several ways to monitor weight gain in dogs. These include physical inspection, behavioral changes, and simply using a scale.
When relying on a scale, you should know weight readings can differ as much as fifteen percent from one scale to the next. Using the same scale at home — and not relying on the veterinarian’s scale — will provide accurate tracking of your dog’s weight.
Picking one time of day, like first thing in the morning before breakfast, will also ensure an accurate tracking method.
The easiest way to weigh your dog is in your arms. Once fully recovered, pick your dog up to weigh your combined weight. Write down the number, then weigh yourself and subtract it from your combined weight.
Continue to check your dog’s weight every three to four weeks. When you start to see a pattern of weight gain, slowly decrease their daily food intake and increase the frequency of weigh-ins to weekly.
Once you notice stability in your dog’s weight, you’ve found their proper daily caloric intake.
Preventing weight gain in neutered dogs
A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential to help your dog lose weight and maintain a safe weight. Here are some tips for keeping your dog’s weight under control:
- Feed twice daily instead of leaving food out all day.
- Take daily walks.
- Play for at least 15 minutes twice a day.
- Avoid human food and table scraps.
- Transition your dog’s food to low-calorie.
- Ensure your dog is getting enough nutrients.
Creating a scheduled exercise routine will help keep you on track. Daily exercise is vital for all dogs.
Regardless of age and size, dogs need at least 30-minutes of exercise each day, with more active dog breeds requiring an hour or more. As a general rule:
- Puppies need 5 minutes of exercise twice daily for each month of age. Playtime and short, structured walks should be part of the daily routine.
- Adult dogs need a minimum of one hour of exercise each day. It would be best if you exercised at least twice a day. More playtime in between will make your pup even happier.
- Senior dogs still need 30 minutes of exercise each day— unless instructed otherwise by a veterinarian.
Obesity is the leading cause of death in dogs today; it’s also the most preventable disease dogs face. When most think of an overweight dog, joint pain and discomfort come to mind. But, there are many severe health risks of obesity in dogs, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
With more than half of dogs in the U.S. diagnosed as overweight or obese, closely monitoring a dog’s weight is always critical. Once you detect weight gain in your dog, start them on a path to weight loss by:
- Tracking your dog’s weight weekly.
- Stopping or switching all snacks to healthy fruits and vegetables.
- Reducing the serving size of their regular meals.
- Increasing or starting daily walks and playtime.
- Making gradual adjustments to diet and exercise until reaching a 1% to 1.5% weekly decline in weight.
Always consult your veterinarian if you’re concerned that your dog may be overweight. There are many causes of obesity in dogs, and overeating is just one.
Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to promote their long-term health, wellbeing, and happiness.
Our dogs thrive with the right amount of physical and mental stimulation. An active dog is a happy and healthy dog.
Did your dog gain weight from neutering? Share this story to help others learn and overcome the dangers of weight gain in their dog.