Feeding neutered dogs and cats
By Ness Bird – Nutrition Adviser and RVN CertCFVHNut ©
Hormonal changes after neutering can cause the metabolic rate to decrease, meaning your pet won’t burn calories as quickly, and can also increase a pet’s appetite. Your vet may suggest feeding a specially formulated diet to help minimise weight gain. The main difference between these products and regular pet foods are that they are lower in fat and calories, and formulated to ensure your pet is satisfied. Some contain a supplement called L-carnitine; an amino acid that helps to increase fat metabolism in the skeletal and cardiac muscle. It is naturally present in meat and fish, which are included at good levels in our dog and cat food range. Adult Light with fresh chicken & rice, Adult Performance with fresh chicken & rice, Senior with fresh chicken & rice, and Adult Large Breed fresh chicken & rice dog food are supplemented with extra L-carnitine.
The Arden Grange Adult Light fresh chicken & potato cat food, and Adult Light fresh chicken & rice dog food are not dissimilar in terms of the nutrient balance and supportive elements that your vet might recommend specifically for neutered animals. The lower calorie content means that the suggested feeding amounts are more generous.
It is possible to keep a neutered animal equally healthy on reduced portions of their regular diet. Our products are all designed to promote stable blood sugar, which will have a positive effect on serotonin levels, the hormone responsible for dietary satisfaction. The inclusion of a moderate amount of insoluble fibre, which is calorie-neutral, is also a benefit.
Some pets do have a larger appetite, and feeding a combination of wet and dry food could be beneficial for them. This is because wet food will always supply fewer calories than dry due to its much higher moisture content. For example, we suggest reducing the dry food by about 30-40g for every quarter of a can of our Partners wet dog food (just under 100g), so every portion of wet food provides an extra 60-70g in the bowl without increasing the calorie intake. Hungry pets could also benefit from anti-gulp bowls or interactive feeding toys to help prolong their meals and make feeds more stimulating.
Another very important factor is to ensure that the main diet is reduced to allow for the calories in any treats and extras if fed. As a very general guide, you can weigh the treats fed on an average day and reduce your pet’s dry food allowance by this amount. Look for low fat/reduced calorie options such as our Crunchy Bites Light rich in chicken for dogs, or make your treats go further by breaking larger ones into smaller pieces. Try to limit treat giving as a reward for good behaviour rather than “just because”.
Once neutered, your cat or dog’s metabolism and appetite won’t change overnight, and it will take a few months for the hormones to settle down. If your pet has been neutered at a very young age and is still growing, calories and nutrients should not be restricted, unless there is already a weight problem, until the animal has finished his or her skeletal development.
Planning ahead can prevent weight gain in future, and both a healthy diet and a good level of exercise are important.