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Having your dog neutered is an important decision, and some dog owners feel uncomfortable about it for different reasons. It's important to weigh the pros and cons of this procedure, as well as the cost of neutering a dog.

In this article we will discuss:

  • What is neutering and what does the neutering process involve?
  • Should I get my dog neutered? Why, and when?
  • How much does it cost to neuter a dog?
  • What are the low costs and alternative options to neutering?

What Is Neutering and What Does the Process Involve?

When a dog is neutered (fixed), they are surgically prevented from reproducing. This means that after surgery a male dog will no longer have the reproductive organs required to impregnate a female dog. The results are permanent and irreversible.

Castration

The surgical procedure of neutering a male dog is called castration. During the procedure both of the male dog's testicles, which are the main source of the male dog hormone testosterone, are completely removed.

Spaying

For female dogs, the operation is called spaying. The operation involves both of the female dog's ovaries being removed. The uterus is also usually removed, meaning that she is unable to become pregnant after the operation.

Risks of anesthesia

When undergoing the procedure of neutering, the dog must first be put under general anesthetic. Dog owners are often concerned about the risks involved when putting a pet dog under anesthesia.

Studies have revealed that most canines easily survive and do well during anesthesia, and pet deaths associated with anesthesia usually have other health factors involved (1, 2).

The highest risk of anesthesia for dogs comes during the recovery period after surgery. Fortunately, there is now more sophisticated monitoring of patients after surgery, safer drugs and better protocols, which means that the risks have been significantly reduced.

Pain after surgery

Despite there being a certain amount of discomfort, which is to be expected after any type of invasive surgery, dogs are usually up and about just a few hours after the operation. Modern pain control helps dogs to recover and experience as little discomfort as possible.

How Much Does It Cost To Neuter A Dog?

Neutering a dog is a one-time lump sum cost that could save you spending much more on vet bills for your dog’s entire life. The actual cost of the procedure varies, depending on where you live, what type of surgery your dog is going to have and the clinic, the size of your dog and their age.

In the US, the average cost of neutering a dog is between $50 and $250.
In the UK, the average cost of the traditional neutering of a male dog is £150.

Neutering a male dog is a significantly shorter and far less invasive procedure than having a female dog spayed. Be aware that neutering a dog is not a particularly profitable service for a private veterinary clinic.

Avoid having your dog neutered at a practice that offers the service for half the standard amount, as your dog may not receive the vital aftercare and post-op pain relief they may need. Spending a little extra on the cost of neutering will ensure that your pet gets looked after.

Comparison: traditional spay for a female dog averages between $50 to $250 as well (or £170 on average in the UK), keyhole spays come go up to $350, and pyometra spays can be around the $1000-$2000 mark. The keyhole procedure is worth the extra money if you have it, as the incisions are much smaller, making healing easier, faster and less painful.

What are the Low Costs and Alternative Options?

Some dog owners may be eligible for low cost neutering for a pet dog. In comparison to a normal vet bill, these options can reduce dog's neutering costs significantly. Here are some examples of where and how to find low cost neutering options.

Qualifying for low cost veterinary treatment can depend on your income and whether you are in receipt of certain benefits, your location (zip code) may also be a deciding factor, and sometimes even the breed, size, age of dog that you own.

Here is a list of options for you to consider if you are on a tight budget or a low income and want to have your dog neutered:

Dogs Trust Vouchers – If you are eligible, the Dogs Trust offer a voucher system, which can save you 80% on a traditional neuter or spay. This means that you will only have to pay £35. Find out more on their website.

PDSA – If you live within the postcode catchment area of a PDSA pet hospital, clinic or practice, and you receive the eligible benefits, you should check their website to find out how they may be able to assist you.

RSPCA – You could receive up to 75% off neutering or spaying your dog if you are eligible. Check their website to find out.

Pet Insurance – Pet insurance doesn’t usually cover the costs of routine or preventative neutering. But check your terms and conditions because your insurance may well cover neutering in the event of an injury or illness where neutering is a vital part of the treatment for that injury or illness.

Crowd-funding – Online crowd funding could be a way for you to raise the money needed to neuter your dog. People love to help if they can when it comes to animals. Take a look at justgiving.com to find out more about how it works.

Should I Get My Dog Neutered? Why and When?

The main reason for wanting to have a dog neutered is to prevent a male dog from siring a litter or to prevent a female dog from getting pregnant.

What if I want to have a litter of puppies?

Raising a litter of puppies is a big responsibility for dog owners. Veterinary bills can be expensive, especially if something goes wrong during or after birth.

Afterwards, there is the responsibility of rearing the puppies, and then finding and vetting potential buyers in order to find good forever homes for all of the puppies. Many people prefer to avoid accidental litters by having their pets neutered.

Some dog owners want their pets to “experience being a parent” and they delay getting their female pet dog spayed until after she has had a litter of puppies. The whole experience of pregnancy and birth can be very risky for a female dog though, and the results can be tragic, with dog owners losing both their pet dog and the puppies.

Health benefits of neutering a dog

One of the main reasons to neuter your dog is for health reasons. In male dogs, neutering heavily decreases the risk of them developing prostrate disease, and also reduces the risk of certain cancers.

The health of female dogs can benefit from being spayed too. The risk of potentially fatal mammary cancer, which is very common in a female dog as it gets older is significantly reduced.

Spaying completely eliminates the risk of Pyometra, which is an infection of the womb and affects up to 25% of unspayed female dogs. Bear in mind that if your dog is already suffering from Pyometra and has to be spayed as a result of it, the procedure will be more expensive.

Neutering can resolve some behavioral problems

The other reason many dog owners choose to have a dog neutered is to subdue or fix undesirable behaviors such as aggressiveness.

In male dogs this may translate to them being overly amorous in the dog park, towards their soft toys, or towards yours and your guests’ legs. Un-neutered male dogs can be easily distracted and difficult to keep under control on walks. They are often more aggressive to other male dogs too.

In female dogs aggression may also be present, especially when she is in heat. A female dog comes into season twice a year for a significant period of time, usually about three weeks.

During this time the dog can be a handful. Not only do they produce a bloody discharge for three weeks or more, which can be messy, they are also restless and uncomfortable, and have a persistent urge to escape from the house to go and find a mate. It can be difficult to walk a female dog on the streets or in parks when she is in season, as she will be attracting the attention of male dogs from all around the neighborhood.

Some female dogs even experience phantom pregnancies after every season. This can be extremely distressing for the dog and for the dog’s owners. The dog essentially goes through the whole process of preparing to have a litter of puppies, but at the end there will be no birth.

Neutering helps to support dog rescues

Perhaps the most important reason to neuter your dog is to help reduce the number of dogs that end up unwanted and must be put to sleep each year because there are not enough rescue homes and shelters for them to live out their lives in.

PODCAST: Pros and Cons of Spaying or Neutering Dogs