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

Before your best friend gets "snipped," get the facts on this routine procedure.

how much does it cost to spay a dog

The cost of spaying or neutering your dog can range from $250-$2,000 depending on several factors, including your dog’s age, breed, and size as well as where you live and what your vet’s rates are. Spaying tends to be a bit pricier than neutering since it’s a more invasive surgery.

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 your pooch off at the vet… or when you get that vet bill.

What is the difference between spaying and neutering? 

Let’s get the basics out of the way. 

Spaying and neutering refer to the common surgical procedures that permanently sterilize your pet. These procedures 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

Puppies: so cute, so much work

How much does it cost to spay your dog?  

A routine dog spaying can range anywhere from $250-$2,000. However, the cost also depends on your dog’s age, breed, size, where you live, and on your individual vet.

If you or someone you know can’t afford to have their dog spayed or neutered at a traditional veterinary clinic, there are dozens of free or low-cost spay/neuter clinics around the country.

Or, if you choose to  adopt a rescue dog, you may also be eligible for low-cost spay or neuter services—since those procedures are often performed before adoptions and already reflected in the fees.

According to Dr. Liff, the procedure can vary, depending on the clinic or practice where it’s performed. Here’s what the best care for your pup typically involves:

The gold standard includes IV catheter, IV fluids, pre-anesthesia blood work, licensed technicians monitoring your pet, pain medication and additional therapy for aftercare.

Keep in mind: Neutering requires just a small incision, while spaying a female dog is considered more major surgery, so it tends to come with a slightly steeper price tag.

 The surgery cost 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: Your dog’s size and weight 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.
  • IV Catheter: A catheter placed to administer pre-anesthetic drugs and fluids intravenously during surgery.. 
  • Surgery: Removing the uterus and ovaries is done using a scalpel or laser. From beginning to end, spaying a dog can take 20-90 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. 
  • Post-surgery recovery: Until your dog is fully awake, they’ll probably have a veterinary technician 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. 
  • 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, but they also keep your dog from licking and agitating their incisions. If your dog does accidentally open up their stitches, be sure to take them to the vet right away.  

How much does it cost to neuter your dog?

A routine dog neutering can range anywhere from $250-$2,000, depending on your dog’s age, breed, and size, plus where you live and where you take your pup for the procedure.

As with spaying, if you meet certain criteria, you may be able to find a free or low-cost clinic to help cover the surgery.

A routine neutering procedure is similar to a routine spaying—from the anesthesia and catheter down to the adorable cone at the end. 

The main difference is the procedure itself: It begins with a small incision made in front of the scrotum through which the testicles are removed. Then, the tubes will be tied, and, as with spaying, the dog will have stitches that will either dissolve on their own or require a quick follow-up appointment.

And, since neuter surgery is much less invasive, it typically only takes 5-20 minutes.

It’s all fun and games until…

Does pet insurance cover spaying or neutering?

Dog health insurance could cover spaying or neutering, depending on the type of coverage you have.

In addition to our base policy, which covers your pup for accidents and illnesses, Lemonade also offers a Puppy/Kitten Preventative package for fur babies under two years old. This pet insurance plan can help pay for things like: spaying and neutering, microchipping, and their first rounds of vaccinations. Although they can’t express it in words, your pup will be grateful for setting them up for a long and healthy life. Your wallet will thank you too. Think it’s the right move for your pooch? Get a quote today.

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! 

There are also significant health benefits to spaying or neutering your dog. A University of Georgia study found that, on average, sterilized dogs live two years (!) longer than intact dogs. 

Spayed females cannot develop pyometra (a potentially fatal uterine infection), and nor will they face the risk of cancer of the mammary gland and other reproductive system cancers. 

Neutered males are at basically zero risk of developing testicular cancer and are at lower risk of 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 get hit by a car or end up in another sort of accident.

Treatments for these health issues are complicated, painful, and expensive. That’s why, in most cases, It’s better to pay early on for spaying and neutering so that you can save your best friend and your wallet some major stress down the line.

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.

In which states does Lemonade currently offer pet health insurance?

where is Lemonade Pet Insurance Available in the United States

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C. (not a state… yet), and Wisconsin.

FAQs

What is the best age to spay a female dog?

Small dog breeds (defined as under 45 pounds at maturity) should be spayed either prior to their first heat cycle or just after it—which typically happens before they reach five months of age.

Guidelines for spaying large-breed dogs are less clear, but it’s generally also recommended that they be spayed before they reach maturity. Depending on the dog and breed, this could be anywhere from 12-18 months. However, you should consult with your veterinarian before scheduling the procedure.

What is the best age to neuter a male dog?

Smaller breed dogs should be neutered anywhere from 6-12 months, depending on when they reach sexual maturity. Meanwhile, dogs over 45 pounds tend to reach maturity later and shouldn’t be neutered until they’re 9-15 months old. Waiting to neuter large dogs can also reduce their risk of orthopedic injuries and certain cancers.

Are female dogs more expensive to spay than male dogs are to neuter?

Yes, it typically costs more to spay a female dog than to neuter a male dog. This is because spaying takes more time and skill, requiring the vet to cut into the abdominal cavity.

Will spaying calm a female dog?

Spaying can reduce heat cycle-associated behaviors, like restlessness, vocalization, and increased urination, but is less likely to alter behaviors unrelated to your pup’s hormones. So, although your female dog might be a little calmer post-spaying, the procedure is unlikely to cause any significant personality changes.

A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage and discounts may not be available in all states.

Eliana Sagarin

Eliana Sagarin is the Pet Product Communications Lead at Lemonade. She writes about fur friends, insurance, life hacks, and pop culture. Eliana has an MA in creative writing from Bar Ilan University.

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Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.