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How to spay or neuter your pet

Get your pet fixed at low-cost clinics, pet charities or any trusted vet.

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Spaying or neutering can benefit both you and your pet for health, financial and social reasons. And knowing what to expect from the process and costs can help you prepare. You might even have enough time to buy a pet insurance policy to cover this procedure.

Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

Consider spaying or neutering your pet to prevent health risks for your beloved furry companion, like types of cancer brought on by hormones that neutering minimizes. Also, spaying or neutering lowers the rates of animals without a home, cutting down on millions of pets brought to animal shelters each year.

The benefits of a spayed or neutered pet:

  • Lower risk of certain types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer
  • Your pet may have less aggression since they won’t experience going into heat
  • Male pets may not mark territory as often
  • Your pet won’t attract stray animals to your home
  • You won’t be faced with an unwanted litter of puppies or kittens
  • Your pet may live longer

When should my pet get spayed or neutered?

Veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering your dog between six and nine months old, but the procedure can be done as early as eight weeks old. Cats should be spayed or neutered anywhere from eight weeks to five months old. But have your vet make sure pets are healthy before having them go in for surgery.

What to expect when your pet gets spayed or neutered

Spaying or neutering is a minor outpatient surgery for pets. Caring for your pet before and after the surgery isn’t complicated, but you’ll get specific instructions to make everything go smoothly.

Before the procedure

  • Follow feeding instructions. The vet or clinic may instruct you to avoid giving your pet food after a specified time. This makes sure that your pet doesn’t vomit while under anesthesia.
  • Bring your pet leash or carrier. Look at the clinic’s rules for bringing in your pet, based on your pet’s size and type of animal. Many small pets can come in a carrier.
  • Ask about the dropoff process. Expect a specific dropoff process especially if you’re going to a spay and neuter clinic or animal shelter. You might need to show up within a time range and stand in line for low-cost clinics.

Post-operative care

  • Follow feeding instructions. After getting spayed or neutered, your pet may need to eat special food or hold off on eating for a few hours to prevent an upset stomach. Your vet may recommend specific foods to give when you pick up your pet.
  • Prevent running or jumping. The procedure involves a small incision with stitches, so you’ll need to limit your pet’s activities for a few weeks.
  • Inspect the incision. Look at the incision regularly to make sure it’s healing, and bring up any concerns about redness or bleeding to your vet.
  • Watch for licking. Your pet may not like the stitches or may get itchy as the incision heals, licking or biting the area repeatedly. If you notice this concerning habit, your vet may recommend a bitter ointment, bandage, medicine or other methods to help.

Cost of spaying or neutering my pet

Having your dog spayed or neutered will cost between $200 and $500 at most veterinary clinics. If you use a low-cost vet clinic, like a local humane society, you can pay as little as $40 to $60 for a cat or $80 to $100 for a dog.

Any pain medication, ointments or other products or services will add to that price. Also, your pet’s size, age and gender affect the pricing, and cats typically cost less than dogs.

Can I get free pet spaying or neutering?

Most clinics will charge a fee for pet parents wanting to neuter their furry friends, and even low-cost clinics typically charge a small fee. Ways to get a free or further reduced price for spaying or neutering include:

  • Apply for cost-reducing programs. Some programs may let you apply for free spaying or neutering if you meet specified guidelines.
  • Get free vet care through a local charity. You might find a local charity that helps pet parents with limited budgets receive certain types of vet care for free. The free services can include spaying or neutering, but you and your pet will have to qualify first.
  • You bring in a feral cat. Many low-cost clinics reduce the price to around $25 or less if you’re neutering a feral cat.
  • Adopt a pet from an animal shelter. Many animal shelters provide free spaying or neutering once you adopt a pet from its shelter.

Does pet insurance cover spaying or neutering?

Yes, pet insurance covers spaying or neutering if you buy a wellness plan, also called a routine care plan. You won’t pay a deductible to access these services, and you’ll get reimbursed up to a specific dollar amount. Most wellness plans have a short or no waiting period before you can use it for spaying or neutering.

However, most insurers require you to buy accident or illness coverage, then add on the wellness coverage, which adds to your insurance premiums. A few insurance companies offer wellness plans separate from their accident and illness pet insurance.

Can I get an insurance discount for neutering my pet?

It depends on the pet insurance company, but most companies don’t advertise a discount for spaying or neutering. On the other hand, an un-neutered pet may pose higher health risks, raising your insurance premiums. Some insurers won’t cover specific illnesses like ovarian cancer if your pet isn’t neutered.

Compare wellness pet insurance for spaying or neutering

Name Product Pets covered Seniors accepted Hereditary conditions Chronic illness
Petplan
Dogs, Cats
Cover unexpected vet bills from emergency exams, injuries, surgery and more.
Embrace
Dogs, Cats
Enjoy extra benefits with coverage for exam fees, curable conditions and wellness visit reimbursement.
Pet Assure
Dogs, Cats, Horses
Save up to 25% on all vet bills including wellness and dental visits for as little as $10/month.
Pets Best
Dogs, Cats
PetFirst
Dogs, Cats
Get coverage starting at $9 per month for cats and $15 for dogs. Talk to an agent at 888-738-0683.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What happens if I don’t spay or neuter my pet?

You’ll find a few main drawbacks to your pet’s health risks and behavior if you choose not to spay or neuter:

  • Unwanted pregnancy. If your pet gets pregnant, you’ll have to decide what to do with the puppies or kittens. Some shelters or clinics won’t take puppies until they’re seven or eight weeks old, so you’ll be caring for them for a few months after birth.
  • Medical complications. Owners of un-neutered pets can get hit with high vet bills if their animal gets injured while roaming or has complications during pregnancy and birth.
  • Pet boarding or daycares. Your pet may not qualify for pet boarding for a vacation or for most pet daycares, especially if the facility lets pets play in groups.
  • Adding to the rates of unadopted pets. Your un-neutered pet can add to the problem of strays and animals needing adoptive homes.

Bottom line

You can find low-cost ways of getting your pet spayed or neutered, and reap the health rewards as your pet gets older. Consider whether a wellness pet insurance plan can help you shoulder this procedure’s cost.

Common questions about spaying and neutering

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