How Much Does It Cost to Spay/Neuter Your Dog?
Neutering your dog can vary in price based on the dog’s age, size, sex, breed, and health, as well as your vet hospital of choice and state of residence. We will review factors that impact the cost of spaying or neutering a dog, note what is included in the neutering fee, offer ideas on how to save money, and review options for low-cost neutering services.
What Is the Difference Between Spay, Neuter, and Castration?
Before we get into costs, let’s review the definitions of neutering and spaying. The term “neutering” refers to the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term “neuter” is often used incorrectly in reference to male animals, when the term can refer to both male and female dogs. The correct term for removal of an animal’s reproductive organ for males is “castration” or “orchiectomy,” and the correct term used for females is “spay,” “spaying,” or “ovariohysterectomy.”
Spaying typically costs more than castration, since the spay procedure takes more time and involves opening the abdominal cavity.
What Is Included in Spay & Neuter Services?
It is important to know what is and isn’t included in the spay or castration fee. When you get a quote, be sure to ask your vet for specifics, so that there aren’t any surprises when you get your final bill.
The spay or neuter procedure generally includes the following (this will vary with the individual vet or hospital):
- Examination. The veterinary team will perform an examination of your dog that includes looking at the eyes, nose, mouth, skin, palpation (feeling) of the abdomen, and auscultation (listen with a stethoscope) of the heart and lungs.
- Blood work and/or electrocardiogram (EKG). Blood work or an EKG may be part of the package or provided at an additional cost if elected by you.
- Sedation. Most dogs receive an injectable sedative medication to help them relax prior to surgery.
- Intravenous (IV) catheter placement. After sedation, some dogs will receive an IV catheter. Hair is clipped and a catheter is most often placed in the cephalic vein on one of the front legs.
- Anesthesia. Injectable anesthetic drugs are given through the IV, followed by intubation and inhalation anesthesia.
- Position for surgery. After sedation and anesthesia, dogs are positioned on their backs (dorsal recumbency), so that the surgery site is exposed. The castration site is just in front of the testicles and the site for a spay is behind the umbilicus on the ventral abdomen.
- Prep for surgery. Hair is shaved and skin is scrubbed with an antiseptic solution.
- Surgery. Castration involves the removal of the testicles and spaying involves the removal of both ovaries and the uterus. A scalpel blade or surgical laser is used to open the skin to expose the intended organ. Suture is used to ligate blood vessels and to close various tissue and skin layers. Skin sutures may require removal in 7 – 14 days or be buried under the skin, which will be absorbed by the body.
- Post-op recovery monitoring. As the patient wakes up from anesthesia, their temperature, heart rate, respiration, incision site, mucous membrane color, and overall demeanor are monitored.
- Pain medications. Medication is prescribed for a 3- to 7-day period following surgery.
- Sedative medications. Some dogs, especially very active dogs, may be sent home with medication to keep them quiet and calm after surgery.
- Antibiotics (if needed).
- Nail trim. A nail trim is commonly done while the dog is sedated.
- E-collar. An Elizabethan collar, also known as an E-collar, may be placed to prevent licking at the surgical site.
- Post-op recheck. Reevaluation of the surgical site and/or for suture removal is common 7 to 14 days after surgery.
- Laser therapy. Laser therapy of the surgical site to reduce swelling and pain may be offered at an additional cost.
How Much Does It Cost to Spay or Neuter a Dog?
Always be sure to ask about what’s included in your estimate for spay or castration procedures. As noted above, there are a few items that may come at an additional cost, such as preoperative blood work or an EKG. Some clinics or veterinary hospitals have packages that include all of the above in their neutering costs, as well as other services like hernia repair, removal of baby teeth, anal gland expression, vaccinations, parasite control medications, microchip placement, nail trims, and/or lump removals.
Spaying can cost anywhere from $65 to $600, and castration can range from $45 to $300. There can also be a big difference in the cost based on locality. For example, the cost of spaying a dog in New York City may be $600, while it might only cost $250 in the Midwest. Another example provided for a low-cost animal welfare organization in Washington, D.C. lists spaying at $150 and dog neutering at $120.
Shelters, humane societies, and clinics are generally less expensive than veterinary hospitals. There are also mobile clinics that offer low-cost spaying and neutering services.
How Size Impacts the Cost of Spaying
Why does size impact spaying cost? Simply put, a bigger dog requires more drugs for sedation, more time to clip and clean the surgical area, more surgery time, more suture materials, additional pain medication, and, well… more everything. Big dogs generally cost more in general. However, some clinics will charge a flat rate for dogs regardless of size.
Other Factors that Impact the Cost of Spaying
Besides the size of the dog, other factors that can impact the cost of spay and castration surgery are a dog’s breed, age, health, weight, and if the dog is in heat or pregnant. Some breeds, such as bulldogs, can require more surgical time. Young dogs are usually less expensive to spay than older dogs, since they’re usually healthier and smaller. Obese dogs can require more surgical time. Dogs that are in heat or pregnant require surgery time, because blood vessels that feed the reproductive organs are larger.
Lastly, if the spay or neuter procedure is done as a treatment for a sick dog, the cost is substantially higher because of accompanying treatments, such as intravenous (IV) fluids, pain medications, and antibiotics. The hospitalization time is longer, and the risk of complications are greater with sick dogs.
For routine spay and castration procedures, the recovery time is about the same for both small and large animals. Most dogs will go home the same day of surgery or the following day.
How Early Should You Neuter Your Dog?
There are different schools of thought when it comes to the right time to neuter a dog. Some shelters perform early neutering. Historically, neutering is done around 6 months of age, however, veterinarians may perform this as early as 6 weeks and as late as 18 months. Learn more about the controversy over when to spay or castrate here.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Spaying or Castrating Your Dog?
Dogs that are not intended for breeding should be neutered. Here are some positive and negative aspects of spaying or castrating:
Positive Aspects of Spaying and Castrating
- Spaying eliminates the risk of pregnancy, which helps to control animal population growth.
- Spaying and castration generally lead to a calmer, less anxious, dog.
- Spayed dogs do not have messy heat cycles.
- Spaying eliminates the risk of pyometra (uterine infection) and can reduce the risk of mammary (breast) cancer. Castration eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostatic disease.
- Neutered dogs generally roam less, stay closer to home, and have a lower risk of being shot, hit by cars, or getting into dog fights.
- Spaying and castration reduce unwanted sexual behaviors, such as humping.
Negative Aspects of Spaying and Castrating
- Some neutered pets gain weight. However, we as pet owners control a dog’s intake and, therefore, have full control over obesity.
- Castration will change a male dog’s appearance due to the removal of the testicles, which is a concern for many pet parents. Thankfully, there are implants that can provide the cosmetic appearance of testicles.
How Pet Insurance Can Help You Manage Costs
The amount of money pet parents in the United States spent on their furry friends nearly doubled over the last decade (jumping from 38.5 billion to 66.8 billion dollars). Expenses include one-time costs (spaying, castration, and/or microchip procedures), annual costs (vaccinations and parasite control medications), ongoing costs (food, treats, toys), and unexpected costs (such as costs related to lacerations, bite wounds, or other medical emergencies and health problems).
Pet insurance can help you cover costs related to illness and unexpected trauma, as well as the basic care or “wellness” procedures for your pet, like vaccinations, parasite control, and spaying and neutering.
Pet insurance is a great way to care for your pet on a budget. After you pay your deductible, insurance will pay a percentage of your vet bill, based on the guidelines outlined in your policy For example, if you have a policy with a 90% copay, your insurance company pays 90% of your bill, which can really help you avoid unexpected costs. Some pet insurance companies even offer basic care options to help you cover the cost of spaying and neutering. Visit PetPartners and get a quote today to see if pet insurance is right for you.