Effects of diet on body weight, body composition, metabolic status, and physical activity levels of adult female dogs after spay surgery

Thunyaporn Phungviwatnikul, Helen Valentine, Maria R.C. de Godoy, Kelly S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neutering is a risk factor for pet obesity, which reduces the quality and length of life. Dietary interventions may serve as preventive and therapeutic options for pet obesity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of specially formulated diets on body weight (BW), body composition, and blood hormones and metabolites of adult female dogs after spay surgery. All procedures were approved by the University of Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee prior to experimentation. Twenty-eight healthy adult intact female Beagles (3.02 ± 0.7 yr; 10.28 ± 0.8 kg; body condition score [BCS]: 4.98 ± 0.57) were used in a longitudinal study. Twenty-four dogs were spayed and randomly allotted to one of three experimental diets: 1) moderate-protein, moderate-fiber diet (control; COSP), 2) high-protein, high-fiber diet (HP-HF), or 3) high-protein, high-fiber diet plus omega-3 and medium-chain fatty acids (HP-HF-O). Four dogs were sham-operated and fed the control diet (COSH). Food intake, BW, BCS, blood hormones and metabolites, body composition (via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans), and voluntary physical activity (via Actical devices) were measured over time. After spay, dogs were fed to maintain BW for 12 wk (restricted phase), then allowed to overeat for 12 wk (ad libitum phase). Change from baseline data was analyzed for treatment, time, and treatment × time effects as well as treatment, feeding regimen, and treatment × feeding regimen effects. During the first 12 wk, HP-HF and HP-HF-O had lower (P < 0.01) blood cholesterol than COSH and COSP. During the second 12 wk, HP-HF and HP-HF-O ate more (P < 0.01) food (g/d) than COSH. BCS change for COSP was greater (P < 0.01) than COSH from week 21 to 24, but HP-HF and HP-HF-O were not different. When comparing data by feeding regimen, HP-HF and HP-HF-O had a greater reduction in serum cholesterol (P < 0.001) than COSH and COSP. During the second 12 wk, all spayed dogs consumed more (P < 0.01) food than COSH. However, COSH, HP-HF, and HP-HF-O had a lower (P < 0.001) increase in BCS than COSP. HP-HF-O and COSH had similar serum leptin during weeks 12 to 24. COSP had higher (P ≤ 0.01) serum C-reactive protein than HP-HF-O. Overall, body fat increase in COSP was greater (P < 0.05) than for COSH at week 24, while HP-HF and HP-HF-O were intermediate. Our results indicate that an HP-HF diet can limit weight gain and body fat increase and attenuate serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and leptin concentrations in dogs after spay surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskaa057
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Canine nutrition
  • Dietary fiber
  • High-protein diet
  • Obesity
  • Ovariohysterectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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