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

Last Updated on January 7, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

As a dog owner, deciding whether to spay (for females) or neuter (for males) your furry friend is an important decision. While this sterilization surgery comes with a cost, it provides meaningful health, behavioral, and population control benefits.

In this article, we will take a close look at the typical costs of spaying and neutering dogs, what’s included in the procedures, where to find low-cost options, how to budget for this expense, and ultimately whether pet owners should spay or neuter their companions.

Key Takeaways on the Costs of Spaying and Neutering Dogs

  • Female dog spay surgery averages approximately $300
  • Male dog neuter surgery averages around $250
  • Additional costs may apply depending on the vet, location, tests needed
  • Pet insurance generally doesn’t cover spay/neuter procedures
  • Low-cost clinics provide reduced rates from $100 – $250
  • Wellness plans allow budgeting through monthly fees
  • Explore financing if unable to pay the lump sum
  • Weigh pros vs any cons, but most experts recommend fixing
  • Budget for food, supplies, vet care, grooming, insurance too

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

The average cost to spay a female dog is typically $300, while neutering a male dog averages around $250. However, prices can range anywhere from $100 up to $500 depending on factors like:

  • Geographic location – Urban areas are generally more expensive
  • Size and age of the dog – Larger, older dogs cost more
  • Vet performing the surgery – Prices vary by clinic
  • Any lab tests or medications needed – Adds to the total bill
  • Overnight boarding – If your dog can’t go home same-day

Puppies under 6 months old may also have slightly higher rates since they require increased anesthesia monitoring and care. But compared to many other pet medical procedures, spay and neuter surgeries are relatively affordable.

According to PetMD, a low-cost clinic may charge between $45 and $135 for spaying or neutering a dog, but this varies by location. Most animal hospitals charge more than $300 for the surgery.

Money states that at a private veterinary practice, the cost of spaying a dog ranges from $145 to $700. You may be able to spay your dog for free through a nonprofit organization or find a reduced price through other programs.

Forbes says that the average cost to neuter a dog varies depending on the clinic or practice: low-cost clinic ($20–$175), non-profit veterinary clinic ($50–$350), and ASPCA or Humane Society (Free–$250).

York County SPCA writes that the low-cost program includes spaying/neutering, pain medications, and an e-collar to go home for each pet. Pricing for spay/neuter surgery is dependent upon factors such as the pet’s size and age.

What is Included in the Spay and Neuter Costs?

The total price quoted for spaying or neutering a dog typically covers:

  • Pre-surgical exam by the vet
  • Pre-operative bloodwork to check health
  • General anesthesia during the surgery
  • Pain medication for recovery
  • The actual sterilization procedure (removal of ovaries/uterus for females, testicles for males)
  • An Elizabethan collar to prevent licking
  • Post-operative exam to check healing
  • Any take-home medication for pain or antibiotics

Some veterinary clinics also now include microchipping for permanent identification when dogs come in to be fixed. However, any additional services like boarding, lab tests, or specialty medications would add to the total bill.

What Exactly is Spaying and Neutering for Dogs?

Now, let’s clarify what these terms mean. Spaying refers to the surgical procedure performed on female dogs to remove their reproductive organs – the ovaries and uterus. This leaves them unable to breed or go into heat.

Neutering refers to the sterilization surgery done on male dogs, which removes the testes so they can no longer breed.

Both routine surgeries serve to promote pet population control by preventing accidental pregnancies. They also reduce the risks of certain cancers and have behavioral benefits.

Most veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering all pet dogs that will not be responsibly bred. By getting your dog “fixed,” you ensure it won’t contribute to the serious issue of unwanted pet overpopulation.

Does Pet Insurance Cover the Costs of Spaying or Neutering?

Unfortunately, the costs of routine spay and neuter procedures are not covered by most pet insurance plans, since they fall under wellness or preventative care. However, some insurers may provide a small reimbursement, like $50 toward the surgery.

But keep in mind that pet insurance can still provide great value by covering you for Unexpected illnesses, injuries, or emergencies after getting your dog fixed. Compare plans from leading insurers like Healthy Paws, ASPCA, and Trupanion for accident/illness coverage.

Where Can You Find Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Options?

For pet owners struggling to afford the spay or neuter surgery costs from their regular vet, low-cost clinics offer significantly reduced rates. Great options for cheap spay/neuter include:

  • Local animal shelters and rescue organizations – They often operate reduced-cost clinics or host mobile clinics
  • Humane society locations – Check for discounted clinic days
  • Mobile spay/neuter clinics – Provide temporary local services
  • Non-profit organizations – Groups like PAWS offer subsidized or free services for those in need

These affordable clinics allow pet owners to get their dogs fixed for between $100 to $250 depending on location – much less than a traditional private vet practice.

Should You Enroll in a Wellness Plan to Cover the Cost?

Amazed DogAnother way to cover spaying or neutering without paying the lump sum out-of-pocket is to enroll your dog in a veterinary wellness plan. These plans from your vet cover services like:

  • The spay or neuter surgery
  • Vaccinations
  • Annual examinations
  • Helps prevent heartworm, flea, and tick
  • Dental cleanings
  • Other preventative care

For a monthly fee, all of a dog’s essential wellness care is included in the plan. Wellness plans allow convenient budgeting, spreading these costs out over the year. They take the surprise out of big bills for services like getting your dog fixed.

What Are Some Options for Paying the Spay or Neuter Costs?

If you are unable to afford the entire spay or neuter fee upfront, here are some different financing options to look into:

  • CareCredit – Offers specialized pet/vet financing plans with fixed payments over 6, 12, 18 or 24 months
  • Personal loan – Can borrow money from a bank or credit union to cover the costs
  • Credit cards – Allows you to charge the procedure and pay it off monthly
  • Veterinary payment plans – Many clinics offer in-house financing options
  • Family/friends – Ask trusted people in your support network to assist with funds
  • Rescue group grants – Some offer assistance if you adopted from them
  • Crowdfunding – Use sites like GoFundMe to request donations repaying over time

Talk to your vet and have an open conversation if you need help affording this important surgery for your dog. They want to keep pets healthy.

What Are the Main Pros of Spaying or Neutering Your Dog?

While spaying and neutering do carry upfront costs, they offer many benefits that improve dogs’ health and behavior over the long run, including:

  • Population control – Eliminates accidental breeding and unwanted litters
  • Reduced cancer risk – Greatly lowers the chances of reproductive cancers later in life
  • Less roaming and aggression – Curbing mating behaviors and instincts
  • Convenience – Avoid frustrations of heat cycles and breeding drives
  • Overall health – Optimizes wellbeing without reproductive hormones
  • Peace of mind – Knowing your dog can’t contribute to pet overpopulation

There are also minimal long-term drawbacks for most pets. Overall, it’s a very beneficial procedure.

What Other Costs Should You Anticipate for Dog Ownership?

While spaying and neutering are fairly large initial expenses, it’s important to remember dogs also come with many ongoing costs including:

  • Food – Expect to spend $100 – $300+ per year feeding your dog quality food
  • Supplies – Buying leashes, beds, dishes, toys, etc. will likely total $500+ the first year
  • Veterinary visits – Annual exams, vaccinations, and wellness care averages $200 – $400
  • Pet insurance – For accident/illness coverage expect premiums of $500 – $1000 per year
  • Grooming and daycare – Between $150 – $600+ depending on your dog’s needs

Make sure your family’s budget can accommodate these normal costs before welcoming a dog into your home. But the unconditional love of a dog makes it all worthwhile!

Final Words on the Cost to Neuter or Spay a Dog

Making the decision to spay or neuter is part of being a responsible pet parent. Do your homework to understand all the costs and benefits involved.

2 replies
  1. Patrick Kelley
    Patrick Kelley says:

    Your estimate of spay costs is outdated. In my area of Morrison, Colorado checking 3 animal hospitals, the cost to spay a dog ranges from $400 to $800.


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