Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.
How to spay or neuter your pet
Get your pet fixed at low-cost clinics, pet charities or any trusted vet.
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.
What's in this guide?
- Why should I spay or neuter my pet?
- What to expect when your pet gets spayed or neutered
- Cost of spaying or neutering my pet
- Does pet insurance cover spaying or neutering?
- Compare wellness pet insurance for spaying or neutering
- What happens if I don't spay or neuter my pet?
- Bottom line
- Common questions about spaying and neutering
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.
- 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
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.
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
More guides on Finder
5 ways to keep your pet healthy and happy during the holidays
Prepare your pet for the festive season up ahead, with food deliveries, cute toys and some helpful tips for keeping your fur ball healthy.
Here’s what you need to know about Chewy, the popular pet retailer that offers fast shipping, a wide-variety of products and 24/7 customer service.
How much does pet insurance cost for cats?
Discover insurance costs for your cat’s specific breed, based on the 40 breeds we analyzed.
Doggo pet insurance review Oct 2020
With round-the-clock support, customer experience and policy perks are this company’s claim to fame.
Molekule review: Can it improve your home’s air quality?
Here’s what to know about Molekule, the air purifier that promises to destroy pollutants in your home like smoke, dust and mold.
How to keep your pet healthy
Know the basics of pet healthcare, then tailor your routine to your furry friend’s needs.
What foods you can and can’t feed cats
These 7 common human foods are dangerous for cats, but you can safely share other scraps.
How to safely leave your pet at home during the holidays
Tap your network of willing friends or hire someone to keep your pet safe while you’re away.
Understand how this procedure can ease pain and end-of-life expenses to expect.
How much does pet insurance cost for different dog breeds?
Track down your dog’s insurance cost and learn which characteristics play into your pup’s health risks.
Ask an Expert