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The essentials

  • It eliminates the risk of some medical issues — Neutering or spaying nearly eliminates the risk of uterine, ovarian, and testicular cancers, lowers the chances of malignant mammary cancer, and eliminates the risk of pyometra. 
  • There are many low-cost options — Non-profit and low-cost clinics typically charge less than private clinics.
  • It can prevent unwanted pregnancies — Unwanted pregnancies can lead to stress and increased costs.

Bringing home a new dog is exciting, but don’t forget one of the most important parts of responsible pet ownership: spaying female dogs and neutering male dogs. 

Removing your dog’s reproductive organs helps with pet population control and homelessness. It’s estimated that U.S. shelters euthanize 56% of dogs because they aren’t adopted. 

But how much does it cost to neuter a dog, you might ask? The cost varies widely. It can range from free to $600 or more, depending on your location, and additional medical, laboratory, or other safety issues that may need to be addressed. Here’s what our veterinarians want you to know about this helpful and necessary procedure.

Factors that affect spaying and neutering costs

As a new pet parent, knowing the costs of having a dog is just part of having a pet. While the upfront costs of owning a new pet might seem high, nothing can replace the joy, companionship, and unconditional love of having a dog. 

Investing in your pet’s health and well-being can help you plan so that you can provide the best care for your new family members throughout their life. Beyond routine veterinary visits and vaccinations, spaying and neutering your dog is a critical decision affecting your dog’s long-term health. Certain factors can influence the costs of this procedure, such as your location, the type of clinic or veterinary services you choose, and any additional services like vaccinations or microchipping

Aside from the fun things like dog toys, treats, and dog beds, spaying and neutering your dog is one of the most responsible things you can do as a pet parent. By preventing unwanted litters and eliminating reproductive health risks, spaying, and neutering impacts the entire community, reducing the number of homeless pets that end up in shelters.  

Here are commonly seen average costs of spaying and neutering:

Clinic/Vet Base Cost Spay Surgery Base Cost Neuter Surgery
Income assistance/State voucher program $0-$50 $0-$50
Low-cost spay/neuter clinic $40-$100 $40-$100
ASPCA/Humane Society $100-$375 $100-$270
Private animal hospital $300-$600 $200-$500

* Sources: This includes sources ranging from a California-based Humane Society chapter to the pet stem cell bank Gallant and the Brandywine Valley SPCA

The average cost of spaying or neutering your dog ranges widely depending on your dog’s age, weight, and location you’re in. So, it’s important to keep in mind that the cost of the surgical procedure may include other additional costs and plan accordingly. 

It’s a good idea to call and ask about the procedure ahead of time to get an idea of the overall cost. That way, you won’t be surprised when you get the bill. Some locations may offer packages for spaying and neutering. This may include the surgery itself, vaccinations, and microchipping. 

It’s also worth noting that spaying and neutering are not emergencies. However, dogs suffering from infections like pyometra may require urgent attention. In that case, the overall cost may be much higher depending on the severity of the condition.

Your dog’s breed and size

As a new pet parent, it’s important to be aware that breed and size can impact how much a spay or neuter costs. Neutering a Chihuahua, for instance, will cost much less than large breeds like a Great Dane

Why? Size and weight affect the amount of medication and general anesthesia required before, during, and after the surgery. For example: Larger dogs require more anesthesia due to a larger surface area, aka they are larger and weigh more, so they need more medication to keep them sedated. Other factors include medication beforehand to calm them and pain medication afterward. 

The type of clinic can also impact how much you’ll pay for a spay or neuter. Many organizations offer affordable and safe spaying and neutering services. Aside from private hospitals, these services are available at non-profit veterinary clinics, animal welfare groups, and through state programs. 

Any pre-existing health issues can also impact the overall cost of a surgical procedure. For example, if your male dog has a pre-existing health condition, like an undescended testicle, the neutering procedure may be more complex and expensive. Or, if you have a pregnant female dog or one that’s in heat, the procedure will likely involve an additional layer of intricacy.

During the same visit, you can also opt for other services like vaccines and microchipping. This saves you valuable time and money by combining multiple trips into one. These may include:

  • Microchipping. As a new pet owner, microchipping is essential. A microchip is a tiny radio-frequency identifier that allows you to track your dog or cat if they get lost. Each microchip has a unique ID number that can be updated with your information. Vets can also do this while pets are awake. Cost: $25-$60
  • Rabies vaccine (1 year). The rabies vaccine is required by law for dogs in most states. The rabies virus is fatal to all mammals, including humans. Some vets may choose to give this vaccine at another time due to potential adverse reactions. Cost: $15-$20
  • DAPP vaccine for dogs. This vaccine protects against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus types 1 and 2, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine parvovirus. It’s also known as the DHPP vaccine. Cost $30-$40

👉 Depending on your vet, they may or may not recommend doing a spay or neuter at the same time as vaccinations. It’s a good idea to discuss this before your surgery appointment. 

Low-cost and free options

If you’re concerned about cost and budget when deciding whether to spay or neuter your dog, you have some options. The Humane Society provides a database of state-based financial assistance programs for dog owners in the United States. You can also check your local state and county to see if they offer any wellness plans or assistance programs. Non-profits like the  ASPCA also offer free and low-cost options in certain locations.

State-based spay and neuter programs are organized at the state and local levels to help control overpopulation, reduce the number of strays, and improve the health and well-being of animals. The types of programs offered vary from state to state.

State-based spay and neuter programs:

Non-profit spay and neuter programs typically collaborate with veterinarians, volunteers, and community partners. Non-profit programs may also offer other lower-cost services or financial assistance. You can also contact animal shelters in your local area to find the best option for you. 

Nonprofit spay and neuter programs:

Differences between low-cost and private clinics

A low-cost clinic is safe for your pet, and many of them offer excellent care. The primary difference is that they may not provide the same services as private clinics. Low-cost clinics typically focus on essential veterinary services like vaccinations, basic check-ups, spaying, and neutering, which make them a great choice for new dog owners. But, if you’re looking for more specialized or in-depth treatment or medical procedures, a private clinic may be the right choice.

While both low-cost and private clinics prioritize the health and well-being of animals, low-cost spay and neuter clinics often perform procedures at a much higher volume. Here are some differences between low-cost and private clinics:

  • No routine monitoring. They may not offer routine monitoring due to the brevity of surgery. 
  • No fluids. They may not offer intravenous fluids due to limited staff and time.
  • No bloodwork. They may or may not offer or require bloodwork before surgery. 

🚨It’s a good idea to discuss this option with your veterinarian first and get bloodwork done independently before the procedure to make sure your dog doesn’t have any underlying health problems. It can also help you determine if your pet is a good candidate for surgery.

Does pet insurance cover spaying and neutering?

As a new pet parent, pet insurance can be the saving grace when an emergency happens. Many insurance providers offer plans for dogs of all ages, including puppies and senior dogs. Pet insurance gives pet owners peace of mind in case of an accident or illness.

Although pet insurance typically doesn’t cover the cost of spay or neuter procedures, some pet insurance companies offer other wellness plans that will cover it. Some providers may offer it on top of regular pet insurance, while others offer preventive care policies that include major surgery—like spaying, neutering, and post-operative care.

Benefits of spaying or neutering your dog

Spaying and neutering your dog comes with many benefits and is a huge part of responsible pet ownership. These surgeries are crucial to your dog’s well-being and bigger concerns like population control and reducing the burden on shelters.

  • Reduces the burden on shelters. According to Best Friends Animal Society, there was an 8.1% increase in the intake of pets to shelters and a 2.3% increase in pet euthanasia in 2021 compared to 2020. By spaying and neutering your dog, you help limit the number of animals that can end up homeless and in shelters.
  • Increased lifespan. A study done by Banfield Pet Hospitals concluded that neutered males live 18% longer and spayed females live 23% longer. Just by spaying and neutering, you can increase your dog’s life expectancy by almost two years.
  • Improves behavioral issues. One of the main reasons dogs end up in shelters is due to behavioral issues. Neutering and spaying your dogs make them less likely to roam, mark, and fight.

Disadvantages related to spaying or neutering your dog

The disadvantages to spaying and neutering your dog are few and far between, and the overall evidence suggests that neutering increases your dog’s lifespan. However, it’s important to note that some studies suggest potential increased health risks, including:

  • Slower metabolism. Neutering and spaying affect your dog’s hormonal balance, leading to a slower metabolism. However, overfeeding and lack of physical activity contribute to weight gain in dogs. 
  • Knee injuries. Neutering or spaying large breed dogs before mature bone growth can increase knee injuries. If you have a large or giant breed, research and talk with your vet about the best time for this surgery.
  • Certain behavior changes. A study suggests that neutered dogs may have an increase in noise phobia. But, this study concluded that neutering has more health benefits than risks. 

The general consensus is the benefits of spaying and neutering your dog far outweigh the risks. It’s an important decision and one that all pet parents should consider for the health of their furry friends. While the average costs can vary, you can find options for every budget.

Frequently asked questions

Is it safe to have your dog spayed or neutered at a low-cost clinic?

Yes, there are many safe options for low-cost spaying and neutering. Many spay-neuter clinics rely on donations and grants to help them provide high-quality surgeries and services.

Why is it important to spay or neuter your dog?

Spaying and neutering your dog helps reduce the millions of unwanted, homeless pets each year. They also protect your dog from infections and cancer.

What is the best age to neuter a male dog?

When to neuter depends on the breed and size of your dog. There’s no one-size-fits-all. While 6 to 9 months may be fine for toy and small breeds, for large and giant breeds, it’s recommended to wait until they are at or older than 12 to 18 months. 

Is it cheaper to spay or neuter a dog? 

Neutering is typically cheaper than spaying. Spaying is a more complicated internal procedure, whereas neutering is faster and usually an external procedure.

What happens if you wait too long to neuter your dog?

Although there’s no specific age to neutering your dog, waiting too long can lead to a higher chance of health-related and ingrained behavioral issues. This includes testicular and prostate issues or cancer, roaming and territorial marking, and other types of behaviors.

Can you get a free spay or neuter procedure?

If you meet low-income guidelines set by your state, you may qualify for free neutering or spaying for your dog, like the Free to Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Program in New Mexico.