We know, your pup is perfect exactly the way they are. Why go through the trouble of having them spayed or neutered? Getting them “fixed” might seem completely besides the point. But that’s where you might be wrong.
Around 80 percent of pet parents in the United States choose to spay or neuter their dogs, usually within the first few months of their dog’s lives.
Putting your sweet pup through any medical procedure can be nerve-wracking—and can also get pretty expensive. But we don’t become dog parents because it’s cheap, we do it because it makes our lives just so much…better.
We’ll take you through the ins-and-outs of what to expect when getting your dog neutered or spayed, so there are no surprises when you drop off your pooch off at the vet… or when you get that vet bill.
Here’s a rundown of what we’ll be covering:
- What exactly is spaying and neutering?
- How much does it cost to spay or neuter your dog?
- What are the benefits of spaying and neutering?
What is spaying and neutering?
Let’s get the basics out of the way.
Spaying and neutering refers to the common surgical procedures that permanently sterilize your pet. This will prevent your dog from getting pregnant or from impregnating other dogs. You don’t want one ill-fated encounter at the dog park to lead to an unexpected litter of puppies, now do you?
For female dogs, spaying (also called ovariohysterectomy) involves the vet removing both ovaries and the uterus. For male dogs, neutering (or castration) involves the removal of the testicles.
Now take a breath. We know this stuff is pretty intense.
Spaying and neutering are both routine and safe procedures, especially for younger dogs. Lemonade’s favorite veterinarian, Dr. Stephanie Liff, spays and neuters around 250 dogs a year at her New York veterinary practice.
“While we do this procedure regularly it is important to remember every surgery is serious to that family,” Dr. Liff says. “So while routine and ‘easy’ (it usually takes 10-30 minutes), we monitor closely and take extra precautions to keep everyone safe.”
And as we’ll discover a bit later, spaying or neutering can also help your dog avoid negative health outcomes, from potentially fatal infections to various types of cancer.
How much does it cost to spay or neuter your dog?
The cost of having your dog spayed or neutered depends on your dog’s age, breed, size, where you live, and on your individual vet. According to Dr. Liff, a routine spaying or neutering of a dog can range anywhere between $250-$2,000.
“The gold standard includes IV catheter, IV fluids, pre-anesthesia blood work, licensed nurses monitoring your pet, pain medication and additional therapy for aftercare.”
Neutering requires just a small incision, while spaying is considered more major surgery, so it tends to come with a bigger price tag.
The cost of having your pup spayed or neutered might include, but is not limited to:
- Pre-op exam: The vet will check your dog’s vitals to make sure they’re fit to go under anesthesia.
- Extras: If your dog has a pre-existing condition, they might require additional tests before surgery. These tests can easily tack on a few hundred extra dollars to the total price of the procedure.
- Anesthesia: The size and weight of your dog will determine how much anesthesia they need to be fully and safely under during surgery. The bigger your dog, the more anesthesia they’ll require—and the more the surgery will end up costing.
- Catheter: In case your pup urinates during surgery, a catheter makes sure they don’t make a mess all over the operating table.
- Surgery: Removing the uterus and ovaries or testicles is done using a scalpel or laser. From beginning to end, spaying a dog can take 20-90 minutes, while neutering a dog can take as little as 5-20 minutes. Your dog might need to come in a week or two post-op to have sutures removed manually, or in some cases, the stitches will simply dissolve on their own.
- Nail trim: It might sound odd, but it’s pretty common that dog parents opt to have their dog’s nails trimmed while they’re under anesthesia. Might as well, right?
- Post-op recovery: Until your dog is fully awake, they’ll probably have a veterinary nurse by their side to cuddle them, wrap them up with a warm blanket, and make sure everything looks normal and that they feel safe as they come out of surgery. Nurses rule.
- Pain medication, antibiotics, and sedatives: When you pick up your dog from the vet, you’ll be sent home with a goodie bag to keep your pup comfortable, calm, and infection-free post-op.
- E-collar: Aka an Elizabethan collar, aka “the cone of shame”. Not only are they fashionably adorable, they also keep your dog from licking and agitating their incisions. If your dog accidentally opens up their stitches, be sure to take them to the vet right away.
What are the benefits of spaying or neutering your dog?
Besides making your macho chihuahua less of a jerk at the dog park, sterilizing your dog is good for your dog’s overall wellness, behavior, and also helps to control the stray dog population.
The first and most obvious reason to get your dog spayed or neutered is to fight against pet overpopulation. Every year in the United States, around 3.3 million dogs are surrendered to animal shelters. By spaying or neutering your pup, you’re doing your part to reduce the number of unwanted dogs.
Sterilizing your dog will also put the kibosh on some pretty annoying behaviors, like excessive marking, barking, and… humping. Down, boy!
Spayed females cannot develop pyometra (a potentially fatal uterine infection), nor will they face the risk of cancer of the mammary gland and other reproductive system cancers.
Neutered males are at basically zero risk for developing testicular cancer and are at lower risk for developing prostatitis and prostatic cysts. In addition, sterilized dogs are less likely to get carried away by old-fashioned wanderlust, which means fewer opportunities to being hit by a car or ending up in another sort of accident.
Treatments for these illnesses and injuries are complicated, painful, and expensive. That’s why, in most cases, It’s better to pay early-on for spaying and neutering and save your best friend and your wallet some major stress down the line.
If you or someone you know can’t afford to have their dog spayed or neutered at a traditional veterinary clinic, explore one of the dozens of non-profit low-cost spay/neuter clinics around the country.
Before we go…
We know the fantasy of your sweet dog proudly snuggling up to a litter of their newborn puppies is simply too cute for words. But unless you’re committed to spending the time, energy, and resources to responsibly breed your dog, it might just be better to get your fill of cute puppies on Instagram.
Even though there’s nothing fun about having your precious baby “snipped,” spaying or neutering your dog is one way you can be a responsible pet owner. You get major brownie points (and lots of kisses) for that.
And hey, if you’re hoping to save money on your vet bills, go ahead and apply for Lemonade pet insurance.