Nowadays, castration is one of the most common surgical interventions in a small animal practice. During the operation, which is performed under general anesthesia, a female’s ovaries or uterus are removed, and a male’s testicles are removed. This has far-reaching consequences. Not all of them are desired by the dog owner. The decision to castration must therefore be carefully considered. In every good veterinary practice there is a thorough explanation in advance of the operation. The dog’s diet is also affected by the castration and must be adjusted afterwards.
The dog has to be fasted for the operation, which means that the evening meal is usually skipped the day before the operation. The dog is allowed to drink water until shortly before the operation.
There are a few things to consider when feeding after the operation:
After the procedure, a change in food is necessary, because castration reduces a dog’s energy requirement by an average of 30 percent. This means that even if the dog owner did everything right when feeding and the dog has always been of normal weight, it will most likely gain weight if the usual type and amount of food is maintained.
If the food is freely available, the problem is exacerbated, since in many neutered dogs the appetite increases, while at the same time the spontaneous physical activity tends to decrease. Under these conditions, obesity can easily develop. Since dogs rarely manage to only eat as much food as they actually need in one day, unrestricted access to food should generally be avoided.
A dog should not have permanent access to food. © Yakobchuk Olena-stock.adobe.com
Feeding less of the old food is often not the best solution. As a dog owner, you usually get the necessary change in diet better if this is combined with a change to a low-energy food. There is special food for neutered dogs in specialist shops or at the vet.
With this food with a reduced energy and fat content, the food portions are similar in size or even larger than before and you don’t have the feeling that you are not feeding your dog enough. It is also important for the dog that he is not “fed” with very small portions of food after neutering, because the procedure increases the appetite of many dogs.
Special fiber blends of dietary fiber (insoluble fibers with a high water-binding capacity) and prebiotic fibers (soluble fibers that can be used by colon bacteria as food) ensure a better satiety effect and help to keep the dog’s begging behavior within limits.
Complete foods with the following properties are well suited for neutered dogs:
Low-energy special food is suitable for dogs after neutering. © LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS-stock.adobe.com
Even in the first few months after neutering, a dog can gain several kilos, depending on its size, if the diet is not adjusted. In order to maintain the normal weight of the dog and thus its long-term health, the diet should be changed immediately after the castration. If you do not want to expect your dog to change the food immediately after the procedure, you can start a gradual change from the old to the new food 14 days in advance.
It is advisable to weigh the dog after neutering and the associated change in diet first every two weeks and then once a month in order to determine whether there is a tendency to weight gain and to be able to take countermeasures accordingly. Because preventing obesity is better (and easier) than having to shed the extra kilos. Getting enough exercise is also important. Encourage your dog to do this if he should become calmer after neutering.
The castration should be postponed for overweight dogs. © pongmoji-stock.adobe.com
If the dog is already overweight before the procedure, the castration should be postponed. Because of the reduced energy requirement, weight loss after castration is more difficult to achieve than before. In addition, being overweight increases the general risk of anesthesia and surgery. The correct order is therefore: first reach normal weight, then castrate.
Of course, this only applies if the operation is not to be carried out for important medical reasons, for example an uterine inflammation in the bitch or a prostate disease in the dog. Such diseases can speak for immediate castration. Your vet will advise you individually on this.