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Spay neuter costs

The essentials

  • It’s a responsible part of pet ownership —  Spaying and neutering reduce overpopulation and homelessness of unwanted cats and dogs.
  • Several factors affect the cost —  Your pet’s age, size, and health all determine the bottom line of what you will pay.
  • There are many low-cost options — Non-profit clinics and animal welfare groups typically charge less than private animal hospitals.

When adopting a dog or cat, you’re eager to introduce your new pet to your home. But, don’t forget a key piece of responsible pet ownership — spaying for female pets or neutering a male pet.

Removing a pet’s reproductive organs helps with population control and homelessness. The American Humane Society estimates that 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter U.S. animal shelters are euthanized because they aren’t adopted.

But, what will it cost? The short answer is the cost varies widely, ranging from free to $600.

Factors that affect spaying and neutering costs

Spay and neuter surgery is part of the veterinary care cost of owning a pet. Factors that figure into the price include your pet’s breed, size, age, and health condition. Also, where the procedure is done will affect the cost.

Average spay/neuter base price for dogs

Clinic/Veterinarian Base Price: Spay Base Price: Neuter
State voucher program $0 (if income eligible) $0 (if income eligible)
Spay, neuter, and vaccine clinic $150–$240 (depending on weight) $135–$175 (depending on weight)
Nonprofit veterinary clinic $75-$100 (depending on weight) $50–$75 (depending on weight)
SPCA/Humane Society $100-$225 $100-$225
Private animal hospital $300-$600 (depending on age, weight and location and health of dog) $200-$400 (depending on age, weight and location and health of dog)

Average spay/neuter base price for cats

Clinic/Vet Base Price: Spay Base Price: Neuter
State voucher program $0 (if income eligible) $0 (if income eligible)
Spay, neuter, and vaccine clinic $50-$150 $30-$100
Nonprofit veterinary clinic $150-$200 $100-$150
SPCA/Humane Society $25-$55 $40
Private animal hospital $300-$500 (depending upon age, weight, and location) $200-$300 (depending upon age, weight, and location)

Keep in mind the above prices may not include everything associated with your pet’s surgery. Also, costs can vary depending on several factors — prices ranged widely in our research which included sources ranging from a California-based Humane Society chapter to pet stem cell bank Gallant. Inquire ahead of time so you won’t be surprised when you get the final bill.

Type and size of the  animal

Your pet’s breed and size will contribute to the cost of the operation. Neutering a Chihuahua, for instance, will cost much less than large breed dogs like a Great Dane. A larger animal needs more medications and a longer surgery. The same principle applies to larger cats. Vets typically tack on anywhere from $20 to $100 to the bill for larger animals.

The age of your pet also makes a difference. A dog or cat older than seven often requires added bloodwork, which increases the cost. However, many vets recommend bloodwork even for younger animals.

Type of clinic

Fortunately, several organizations provide safe and accessible spay and neutering services. In addition to private animal hospitals, you can find the service through nonprofit vet clinics, animal welfare groups, and state voucher programs.

Health condition

Vets may charge more for pets with prior concerns than healthy dogs. If a dog, for instance, has a testicle that hasn’t descended, that could add to the neutering procedure. Also, a female cat or dog currently in heat or pregnant will create a more complicated and costly procedure.


While your pet is at a clinic, you might use the opportunity to add on another service. You can save money by completing several procedures in one visit. These include:

  • Microchip. This is an important procedure that can track your dog or cat  if they get lost. The veterinarian inserts a tiny radio-frequency identification transponder that carries a unique identification number. This can also be accomplished while pets are awake. Cost: $20
  • Rabies vaccine (1 year). The rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies vaccines for dogs and cats are required by law in most states. However, some vets may avoid vaccines on the same day as other procedures to avoid adverse reactions. Cost: $15
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (FVRCP). This combination vaccine protects against three diseases:  feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. Cost: $15
  • 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.

How does spaying/neutering work?

Spaying and neutering provide the same outcome — no unwanted pregnancies. They just differ in scope and complexity. Both require anesthesia, a small incision, last an hour or less, and require at least 72 hours of recovery time.


Formally known as an ovariohysterectomy , spaying removes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus from females. This makes the animals unable to reproduce and eliminates their heat cycle.

For dogs, spaying usually takes 45 minutes to an hour; cat spay is 30 minutes to an hour. And the pet usually stays in the facility overnight for observation. They may return in 10 to 14 days to get the stitches removed.

Benefits of spaying include the prevention of breast cancer and uterine infection, as well as heat. When a female dog or cat goes into heat, she will want to escape to find a mate.


Neutering, or castration, is the surgical removal of the testicles. For large or older dogs, it’s usually necessary to remove the scrotal tissue, too. This helps avoid a scrotal hematoma from forming. Along with preventing procreation, neutering eliminates the primary source of testosterone in a male dog.This reduces hormone-related behaviors in intact males, such as spraying.

Neutering a dog typically takes 20 minutes or less unless the testicle is retained. A non-complicated cat neutering can be conducted in a few minutes.

Like spaying, removing your pet’s testicles makes them healthier. A neutered male may have less of an increased risk of health problems, such as testicular cancer and prostate enlargement.

Does pet insurance cover spaying or neutering?

While pet insurance is a smart investment to cover illness and accidents, it typically does not cover spaying or neutering. This is because they’re considered elective procedures. However, some insurance providers offer additional plans on top of regular pet insurance that will cover spaying and neutering. Others offer a preventative care policy that includes spaying and neutering.

Low-cost spay and neutering services

The Humane Society provides a database of state-based financial assistance programs for dog owners in the United States. State- and county-based programs may also be able to help, particularly in areas where pet overpopulation is an issue. The ASPCA has free and low-cost options in select locations.

Some clinics are run by not-for-profit or governmental agencies that receive donations, municipal funds, or other support. This means the clinics can still offer excellent care for your pet, but the costs aren’t passed along to you.

You can also save hundreds by adopting a dog or cat adopted from a shelter or a rescue organization. Many spay or neuter animals, especially puppies, before you take the pet home. The surgical procedure is included in the adoption cost and is typically much less than a private hospital would charge.

Differences between discount and private clinics

Although low-cost facilities are safe for your pet, full-cost clinics can measure such things as oxygen levels and blood pressure.  Not-for-profit and public clinics often perform more procedures per day than private clinics. In general, discount clinics differ in a few other ways:

  • No bloodwork. They may not offer pre-exam blood work, supportive IV fluid therapy, vital signs, blood pressure, and body temperature monitoring.
  • Add-on services may not be available. They usually only offer spaying and neutering.
  • Type of anesthesia may vary. They might not use inhalant anesthesia, which is more expensive. But, most procedures typically involve general anesthesia.

Frequently asked questions 

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

Yes, there are many safe options for low-cost spaying and neutering procedures with no risk. Many spay-neuter clinics rely on local donations and grants to allow for surprisingly high-quality surgeries. Be sure to check what pre-operation and post-operation services they provide.

Why is it important to spay or neuter your pet?

Spaying and neutering reduce millions of unwanted animals each year. The procedures can also protect your pet from many diseases, including cancer.

Can you get a free spay or neutering procedure?

If you meet the low-income guidelines, your pet may qualify for free neutering or spaying, with state organizations such as the Toby Project in New York and others.