How much does it cost to neuter a dog?

Everything you need to know — and then some

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Neutering your dog has some serious benefits. Neutering helps curb pesky marking habits and reduces that urge to incessantly — ahem — love everything in sight. From a health perspective, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and helps prevent prostate diseases and perineal hernias down the road.

“Neutered dogs are reported to live 14% to 18% longer than intact dogs,” said Dr. Mathieu Glassman, a veterinary surgeon at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, D.C. “In most breeds, this can equal another one to two years with your pet because you decided to neuter them.”

From a community standpoint, it's the responsible move to prevent any unwanted litters from adding to the dog overpopulation crisis. “By reducing the number of unwanted dogs, neutering also decreases the strain on local shelters and reduces the number of dogs that may need to be euthanized due to overcrowding,” Glassman said.

The cost of getting your pooch fixed can vary quite a bit depending on the procedure, the vet, your location and your dog's size. At the end of the day, the multitude of benefits make a strong case for neutering.

Key insights

The cost of neutering a dog varies widely, ranging from $10 to over $500, depending on the service provider.

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Factors affecting the cost include the dog's health, the dog’s size, your location and the type of veterinary clinic.

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Pet insurance typically doesn't cover neutering unless you add a wellness plan, with various insurers offering different levels of reimbursement for this procedure.

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What is the average cost to neuter a dog?

Neutering will cost anywhere from free (which is rare) to around $500, but most private veterinarians will charge $200 to $400. Why is neutering so expensive?

Modern vets usually have high-tech equipment, full surgical suites and quality medical instruments and medicine to minimize risk during surgery, and it all adds up. However, many low-cost options exist to get your dog neutered through local animal welfare organizations.

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Additional neutering costs to consider

The cost of neutering a dog can include several additional expenses beyond the basic surgery. These costs vary but typically include the following:

  • Presurgical exam fee: $50 to $100
  • Bloodwork: $50 to $100
  • Anesthesia and monitoring: $50 to $200
  • Pain medication: $10 to $30
  • Follow-up appointments: $20 to $50 per visit
  • Postoperative care items (e.g., cone): $10 to $20

In total, these additional costs can add approximately $190 to $500 or more to the actual procedure cost.

Larger breeds may also need additional support when you neuter them.

“When getting your large or giant breed neutered, you should consider having a gastropexy,” said Glassman. “This is a surgery that prevents one of the common emergency conditions of large and giant breed dogs — gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat).”

Factors that increase neutering costs

Some factors based on the particular age, breed or size may increase neutering costs:

  • Nursing/overnight care if needed
  • Older dogs
  • Dogs with other health issues
  • Travel/transportation costs if going to a specialty vet clinic
  • Large dog breed that requires more anesthesia
  • Flexible draining/suture costs (for dogs with undescended testicles)

Neutering will also depend on your particular geographic location. Check with your local animal welfare organization for more information on low-cost options.

Does pet insurance cover the cost of neutering?

Unfortunately, most pet insurance companies do not cover neutering.

“Neutering is considered preventive care, which is not usually included in basic pet insurance policies,” said Dr. Jacqueline Brister, a veterinarian and consultant at Embrace Pet Insurance.

Some insurance companies offer add-ons or additional wellness plans that cover neutering, but you’ll need to do your due diligence and compare plans. (That said, depending on your situation, opting in might be the right decision for you.)

How to save on neutering costs without insurance

Neutering can be costly, but there are definitely some ways to make that vet bill easier to stomach without insurance.

First, look into low-cost spay/neuter clinics in your area. These nonprofit organizations specifically aim to make these procedures affordable and accessible. While their services are often income-restricted, it's worth checking if you qualify, as the savings can be substantial.

You can also time the procedure strategically by scheduling during February, which is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Opting for a vet student's supervised neutering at a veterinary teaching hospital tends to be more cost-effective as well. And negotiating a package deal that includes the surgery plus preop tests and necessary medications can shave off some additional line-item fees.

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    How old should my dog be when neutering becomes a consideration?

    Most vets recommend starting to think about neutering around 6 months of age.

    “Recently, many vets have started to stretch out this time to 9 to 12 months, especially in larger breeds. This delay (in theory) can help ensure full growth and development, possibly reducing the potential for some of the negative effects of neutering,” said Dr. Mathieu Glassman, a veterinary surgeon at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, D.C.

    How long does neutering take?

    The actual surgery is relatively quick, often under 20 minutes for a routine procedure. But when you factor in prep time, anesthesia and postop monitoring, your pup will likely be at the vet for three to four hours total.

    What are the risks and benefits of neutering?

    Potential risks include anesthesia complications, bleeding, infection and longer-term impacts on bone or joint development. But benefits like reduced cancer risk and less chance of unwanted behavior make it a worthwhile consideration.

    How can I care for my dog after neutering?

    Limit activity for seven to 10 days while incisions heal, and provide your dog a quiet, comfortable space to rest. Give any prescribed pain medication, check the incision site daily, use a cone to prevent licking, and schedule a follow-up vet check.

    Bottom line

    Getting your pup fixed makes good sense. That said, the cost of the procedure can certainly make owners pause. Depending on the vet, the services and your dog's size, you could easily face a mastiff-size bill.

    This is where pet insurance can potentially help put a dent in those neutering expenses. Don't expect basic policies to cover the cost. But some companies offer add-on wellness plans that reimburse some of the cost. While pet insurance likely won't make neutering completely free, it can potentially soften the financial blow. Make sure to review policy details so you fully understand the coverage.

    Article sources
    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, “Cutting Pet Care Costs.” Accessed May 30, 2024
    2., “How Much is a Spay or Neuter? Price & Money Saving Options.” Accessed May 30, 2024
    3. GoodRx, “How Much Does It Cost to Spay or Neuter Your Dog or Cat?” Accessed June 10, 2024
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