The moment you take ownership of a cute and cuddly pet, you also take responsibility for its care and maintenance. Spaying or neutering is part of that responsibility. Why? For social reasons, as confirmed by the Humane Society of the United States, 2.4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year. Sadly, they are born faster than they can be adopted.
How Much Does Neutering or Spaying Cost?
Routine surgeries usually cost around $200, with spaying being more expensive than neutering. Some animal hospitals may charge as much as $300, but low-cost alternatives in the range of $35 to $175 exist through countless clinics. The ASPCA, for example, offers access to a searchable national database to find resources in your area.
When checking on costs, be sure to ask what is included. Does the price include the anesthesia? The cost of hospitalization? Any post-surgery painkillers? Antibiotics to prevent infection?
How Can Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans Help to Defer Costs?
The next question is whether your pet insurance will cover it. Pet insurance tends to be offered in three typical forms:
- Basic Injury and Illness
- Full-scale Injury, Illness, Wellness and Emergency.
Neutering and spaying may or may not be included in the Basic and Full-scale plans.
Some pet insurance companies offer ‘wellness coverage’ as a standalone plan. Others offer it as a rider to plans that do not already include it. Wellness covers routine, preventive issues such as vaccinations and checkups. Neutering and spaying are considered routine. For reference, nearly all pet insurance companies do not cover expenses related to breeding and pregnancy.
- Banfield Pet Hospitals offer standalone Optimum Wellness Plans that cover ‘proactive’ (instead of ‘reactive’) care, including neutering and spaying.
- Nationwide’s Major Medical, Medical, and Feline Select Plans exclude neutering or spaying, unless you purchase an optional wellness rider with spay/neuter benefits.
- Embrace Pet Insurance and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance cover the procedures under their optional wellness plans.
- Healthy Paws considers spaying and neutering to be preventative care, and as such does not offer coverage.
- Figo does not cover neutering or spaying, but does strongly recommend this procedure to avoid future health problems.
Most pet insurance plans do not include wellness coverage. Check with the insurance policy you have for your pet to see if this procedure would be covered or not. In either case, this procedure is way too important to ignore just because it is not covered.
Why Neuter or Spay Your Pet?
Besides avoiding more litters, neutering and spaying can also improve some behaviors, most of them related to breeding instincts, whether humping, howling, marking, or roaming the streets in search of a mate.
The health benefits are important, too. The chance of deadly testicular, uterine or mammary cancer in your dog or cat is reduced. And those nasty dog or cat fights over breeding rights will end.
On the downside, certain orthopedic conditions and prostatic cancer are more common in spayed or neutered dogs. And, as the surgery requires anesthesia, there is always some risk.
What is Neutering or Spaying
Neutering or spaying an animal is a form of sterilization that removes the reproductive organs. Neutering, the male procedure, involves removing both testicles and related structures. Spaying, for females, involves removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.
Dogs are best operated on at around 6-9 months, and cats between 2-7 months. The ideal time is before the pet reaches reproductive maturity, but it can be done later (with a higher risk of complications).