Pet Care Blog

How Much Does it Cost to Spay or Neuter a Dog?

Dr. Ricky Walther
Spayed dog wearing cone with vet

Neutering or spaying your canine companion can vary in price depending on several factors. These factors include the dog’s size, age, breed, and overall health, as well as your state of residence and the vet hospital you choose.

In this post, we’re going over all the factors that influence the cost of neutering or spaying a dog, what’s included in the fee, the benefits of these procedures, and more.

Table of Contents

Pro Tip: Pet insurance wellness plans can help cover the cost of neutering and spaying dogs, as well as expenses for basic care pet care like parasite control and vaccinations.

What is the difference between neutering and spaying?

The term neutering refers to the sterilization of male dogs, which includes the removal of the testicles. Spaying is used to describe the surgical procedure that female dogs undergo, where their ovaries and uterus are removed.

Both procedures are done under anesthesia and usually take no more than one hour. The risks are minimal to young, healthy pups, and they’re expected to return to normal within several days.

How much does it cost to neuter a dog?

Neutering is a surgical procedure where the vet makes an incision near your pet’s scrotum and removes his testicles. Neutering a dog costs between $35 and $350 on average, depending on your pet’s age and breed, your location, the type of veterinary clinic you choose, and whether the animal has any pre-existing conditions.

Besides the neuter surgery itself, there might also be additional costs related to other procedures that happen beforehand to ensure that your pup is a good candidate for surgery. For instance, at a private vet’s office, the cost will likely include a physical exam, blood work, anesthesia, monitoring while your dog is under and afterward as he begins to recover from it.

Man holding dog at vet

How much does it cost to spay a dog?

The spaying procedure involves surgery to remove a female dog’s uterus and ovaries. Similar to neutering, the cost will depend on multiple factors, including where you live, what type of vet you choose, your dog’s breed, size, and age.

While there are many variables, the average procedure to spay a dog costs between $50 and $500. Spaying is a more complicated surgery than neutering, which is why it costs more. In private vet offices, the surgery involves putting your pet under anesthesia, monitoring her while she’s under and after the procedure, as well as all the bloodwork required.

If the procedure is more complicated than expected (for instance, if your pup is older or has a pre-existing condition and needs extra blood tests before surgery), that could add an additional $100 - $200 to the cost.

Many vets treat the cost of neutering or spaying on a case-by-case basis because every dog is unique. Talk to your vet in advance to make sure you understand the procedure and what’s included in the cost.

Pro Tip: Pet insurance is an excellent way to care for your doggy. While most traditional pet insurance plans won’t cover neutering and spaying, many companies offer wellness plans which can help you pay for routine and preventative vet bills.

How size impacts the cost of spaying a dog

Simply put, bigger dogs require more anesthesia, more surgery time, more time to clip the surgical area, more suture materials, more pain medication, etc. That’s why spaying or neutering a large breed dog like Great Dane will likely cost more than performing the same procedure on a smaller dog like Chihuahua. However, some clinics charge a flat rate for all dogs regardless of their size.

Benefits of spaying/neutering your dog

Neutering or spaying your dog comes with a number of advantages. Here are some of the most important ones:

Medical benefits

Spayed female dogs live longer, healthier lives. Spaying helps prevent mammary tumors and uterine infections, whereas neutering prevents testicular cancer and prostate issues in male dogs.

Behavioral benefits

Spayed female dogs won’t go into heat and male pets will be less likely to escape from home looking for a mate. If the dog roams free, he risks being injured or even getting lost. In addition, unneutered dogs have a tendency to mark their territory by spraying urine all over the house. Some aggression issues might also be avoided by early neutering and your dog may be less likely to mount other dogs, objects, or people after he’s been neutered.

Reducing the number of homeless dogs

Canines have a natural inclination to breed and without neutering and spaying, there would be a pet overpopulation. Oftentimes, pet parents can’t afford to keep a whole litter of puppies and as a result, they abandon unwanted litters or turn them over to the shelter. Abandoned puppies often die of malnourishment or car accidents. Puppies in animal shelters can’t always be placed and in that case, they need to be euthanized.

Female vet holding puppy

When to spay or neuter a dog

The standard age for neutering is six to nine months, but puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they are healthy. Female dogs usually go into their first heat at six months of age, so it’s recommended to spay them prior to that first heat. If some situations it may be beneficial to spay or neuter later so be sure to discuss timing of these procedures with your veterinarian.

Dogs can also be spayed or neutered as adults, but the risk of post-surgery complications is a bit higher in older pups, as well as those that have health issues, and overweight dogs.

Veterinary hospitals vs. low-cost clinics

The decision whether to perform these procedures in a vet hospital or a neuter and spay clinic will depend on your financial situation and the level of comfort you want for your pet.

Ideally, your regular vet would be the best choice for the neutering or spaying procedure as they know your pet best and understand all the factors that should be considered prior to the surgery.

However, if you decide to seek help elsewhere, you can still get professional care at a reputable low-cost clinic. Nowadays, veterinarians and staff at low-cost clinics are highly trained and experienced, as they do high volumes of neuter and spay surgeries (30 to 50 per day).

Key Takeaways

  • Spaying/neutering is a surgical procedure where a vet will remove a dog’s reproductive organs. In female dogs, the vet will remove the uterus and ovaries, whereas in male dogs, the vet will remove the testicles.
  • Besides preventing unwanted pregnancies, sterilization can also avoid a variety of health issues and behavioral problems.
  • Vet clinics usually recommend neutering or spaying puppies when they’re about six to nine months old.
  • Neuter/spay surgery can cost between $35 and $500, depending on the vet clinic, where you live, your dog’s size and age, etc.
  • If you have any questions or concerns related to these procedures, your vet can provide all the necessary information and help you decide what’s right for your dog.

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Ricky Walther, DVM

Dr. Ricky Walther

Ricky Walther, DVM, is a small animal general practitioner in the greater Sacramento, California area. Realizing the positive financial and medical impact that pet insurance can provide for pet parents and the profession, he lends support and advice to companies like Pawlicy Advisor "The Pet Insurance Marketplace") that simplify the process of connecting with veterinary financing resources.

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