Spaying or Neutering Your Pet
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Spaying and neutering is an essential part of pet ownership. These procedures remove your pet’s reproductive organs, helping to prevent unplanned pregnancy and animal overpopulation. They also protect against medical issues such as uterine infections, breast tumors, and testicular cancer. In addition, these one-time procedures can help with behavioral problems, like pets roaming or running away to find a mate.
Spaying and neutering are expensive. Prices and availability vary widely, so it is not easy to know what to expect. Your priorities and your pet’s health will ultimately guide your decision. Below we break down the ranges of spaying and neutering, what can affect the price, and ways to find low-cost options.
How much does it cost to spay or neuter a pet?
The price to spay or neuter a pet varies based on several factors, including weight, breed, species, and age.
Is spaying more expensive than neutering?
Spaying refers to the procedure of removing a female pet’s reproductive organs. Neutering removes reproductive organs from male animals. In general, spaying a pet tends to be more expensive than neutering one because neutering tends to be less complex.
Spaying involves opening your dog or cat’s stomach to access the animal’s reproductive organs. Male sex organs are more accessible because they are on the outside, making the procedure less invasive. So, neutering is faster and requires fewer resources. But that is only one of several factors that can impact costs.
Does pet insurance cover the cost of spay or neuter services?
Pet insurance does not typically cover spaying or neutering procedures unless you have purchased a wellness plan rider, an optional add-on coverage to your policy. This is because pet insurance is meant to help cover unexpected costs, like accidents or illness, rather than preventative treatments.
Whether or not it is best to get pet insurance before spaying or neutering your pet will depend on the coverages you purchase. It might be worth it if you are buying insurance or a wellness rider that will cover a spay or neuter surgery at a lower cost. But look carefully at the terms of your insurance plan. You may have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage kicks in!
Pet wellness plans are also available separately from pet insurance. Unlike insurance, wellness plans are focused strictly on prevention. It includes services like vaccinations, dental cleanings, and spaying and neutering. Remember that if you purchase a standalone wellness plan or add a wellness rider to your pet insurance plan, you may have to wait a certain amount of time before you can use your coverage.
Is getting my pet spayed or neutered at a clinic cheaper than getting it done by my vet?
It is typically cheaper to go to a clinic than a vet’s office for a spay or neuter procedure. This is because clinics rely on state programs or donations to help cover their costs, while a vet’s office might handle all those costs. However, clinics and vet offices are not the only options. Some pet stores offer spay and neuter procedures. The services at those locations, as well as the associated costs, may vary. Check with your local pet store to see if spaying or neutering your pet is an option.
What is included in the cost of spaying and neutering?
As mentioned, the total cost of a spay or neuter procedure varies depending on where you go. The price typically covers the procedure and anesthesia. But every location will bill differently, and all charges associated with the surgery are not always included in the base price.
For example, the following may appear separately from the surgery on your bill:
What are the factors that can impact the cost of spaying or neutering?
Your pet’s age, weight, size, and existing conditions may impact the cost of their spay or neuter procedure. Many vets and clinics charge different rates depending on the animal's weight, and anything that may complicate the procedure. For example, if your male pet has a condition where a testicle has not descended, it is a more complex surgery that will cost more.
Your dog or cat’s spay and neuter appointment might also include other preventative services that impact the cost. You may see the following listed as separate fees on your final bill:
Are there any low-cost spaying and neutering options?
Yes, but the availability of low-cost spay and neuter options will depend on your circumstances and location. The Humane Society provides a database of national and state-based financial assistance programs for pet owners. There are also state and county-based programs that may be able to help, particularly in areas where cat or dog overpopulation is an issue.
However, knowing that you may have to show proof of low income or receive government benefits to qualify for some low-cost options is essential. There might be other requirements to qualify, like animal age, species, and your pet’s health. Some clinics will only work with animals in good health.
Remember, if there is much demand for the services or you live in a remote area with only one clinic, you may have to put your pet on a waiting list. That extra wait time for a spay or neuter procedure can lead to an unexpected pregnancy or a roaming male animal. Supervise your pet around other animals or outdoors until they have been spayed or neutered.
How can I find low-cost spay and neuter clinics in my area?
Your local yellow pages is an excellent place to look for low-cost options near you. You may also want to see if any local, county, state, or breed-specific programs could help cover the costs.
Another option to consider is vet schools. They may run low-cost clinics for individuals with low incomes. Contact your local veterinarian if you are not near a traditional low-cost option, like a clinic, pop-up option, or animal welfare organization. See if they offer discount programs or would be willing to arrange a payment plan.
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