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Does Neutering Cause Obesity in Housepets?

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Contrary to what you may have been told or read on the Internet, neutering (ovariohysterectomy/spay in females, castration in males) does not cause obesity in housepets. That said, neutering can PREDISPOSE housepets to obesity. Here's how:

Research has shown that neutering causes hormonal shifts that result in changes in levels of leptin, progestins, and other hormones in the body. Some of these changes can lead to increase in a housepets appetite while at the same time decreasing the amount of energy (calories) burned during normal resting metabolic processes.

In other words, some neutered housepets may develop a tendency to eat more, while burning fewer calories at rest, than intact housepets. And the more fat these housepets put on, the worse the problem gets and the lazier they become (hence the reasoning behind the myth that neutering makes housepets "lazy").

If housepets are neutered, there are several measures pet owners can take to make sure their four-legged friends don't pack on the pounds. Here they are:

1. Reduce the amount of food fed (as recommended by the manufacturer) to housepets by 25% to account for the reduced energy needs.

2. Eliminate free-choice feeding of housepets and stick to a total daily food allotment based on daily caloric need.

3. Eliminate table scraps fed to housepets, as these are usually calorie-dense (keep in mind that feeding a 15 pound Dachshund two french fries is like you and I eating a "supersized" portion of fries!).

4. Offering healthy treats to housepets is fine as long as they stay under their daily caloric limits.

5. Maintain/institute a consistent exercise program for all housepets.

If you're thinking, "Maybe I won't neuter my pet and then I won't have to worry about it," lose the thought. The health benefits afforded by neutering housepets are just too plentiful to ignore. Besides, if you follow the guidelines above, you won't have to worry about your dog or cat becoming obese.

For example, neutered housepets have reduced incidences of certain types of cancer and tend to have fewer behavioral challenges than those housepets that are intact. Neutering can also save you tons on potential veterinary medical bills in the future.

Expensive veterinary visits related to dog or cat fight wounds, c-sections, emergency pyometra surgeries, prostatitis treatments, feline AIDs treatments, prostate cancer treatments, bilateral radical mastectomies, and perineal hernia repairs are just a few of the conditions and procedures linked to housepets that have not been neutered. So don't risk the expense, not to mention your pet's life. Get him/her neutered today. 

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