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How Much Does It Cost to Spay or Neuter a Dog? 2024 Vet-Reviewed Guide

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Neutering and spaying a dog is the most common surgery that is performed at most veterinary clinics. It may be common, but it can also be expensive, and you might be wondering if you should even bother. There are many advantages to neutering and spaying. It helps to control the overpopulation of homeless dogs, as well as having behavioral and medical benefits. Generally, spaying or neutering your dog can cost approximately $400-$500 depending on where you live.

Read on as we’ll go over the advantages, the disadvantages, and the anticipated cost of these procedures so you can make an informed decision that will benefit both you and your dog.
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What Does It Mean to Spay or Neuter a Dog?

So, we will start by going over what it entails to have your dog spayed or neutered.


This is the procedure for a female dog in which her ovaries and uterus are surgically removed. It is also known as an ovariohysterectomy. It is accomplished with the dog under a general anesthetic where the ovaries and uterus are extracted through an incision made in the abdomen.

Some veterinarians will do an ovariectomy in which only the ovaries are removed and can be performed with a laparoscopy (an operation that uses a camera and a small incision).

A third option is a hysterectomy. In this surgery, the uterus is removed and one or both of the ovaries are spayed. This procedure allows the female to continue having a heat cycle without being able to reproduce.

These three procedures make the dog sterile, so she isn’t able to become pregnant.

dog at vet for spaying procedure
Image Credit: aspen rock, Shutterstock


Also known as castration, this procedure is performed on male dogs in which both of the testicles are removed, making the dog infertile. This surgery is done under general anesthesia. An incision is made towards the front of the scrotum, where the testicles are removed.

As you can see, while both procedures are relatively different, they both accomplish the same thing: they prevent your dogs from reproducing.

Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog?

Other than the obvious reason of preventing unwanted pregnancy, there are a number of advantages for why neutering or spaying your dog is a good idea.

Behavioral Reasons
  • Your neutered male dog will not be as likely to run away. When unneutered dogs scent a female dog in heat, they will do just about anything to reach her. This might result in injury due to fights with other male dogs or running into traffic.
  • No more heat cycles for the spayed female! An unspayed female can go into heat every 3 weeks, and it lasts about 4 to 5 days during the breeding season. She might become very affectionate and clingy, make a lot of noise, and try to escape.
  • When a male dog is neutered, he’ll stop marking his territory in the house and may become less aggressive.
Medical Reasons
  • Your neutered male pup will be less likely to suffer from prostate issues and be safe from testicular cancer.
  • Spaying helps prevent breast tumors and uterine infections. If she is spayed before going into heat for the first time, she’ll be even better protected.

Of course, spaying and neutering are essential for preventing unwanted litters, which is the primary cause of overpopulation in animal shelters worldwide, and your pup will live a happier and longer life.

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How Much Does It Cost?

Spaying costs more than neutering, and small dogs cost less than big dogs. Why is this?

Spay vs Neuter

Neutering can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, all depending on your dog’s age, size, or any other medical issues present at the time of the surgery. Spaying a female dog can take 20 to 90 minutes, also depending on her size, age, and whether or not she’s in heat.

These differences demonstrate why spaying a female dog is more expensive than neutering the male. Spaying takes longer and is a more complicated procedure.

Spaying and neutering is an important part of pet care, but it's not the only health expense your pet is likely to incur. A personalized pet insurance plan from a company like Lemonade can help you manage costs and care for your pet at the same time.

Castration of a dog
Image Credit: MAOIKO, Shutterstock

A Dog’s Physical Condition

If your dog is young, in good health, and at a healthy weight, you can expect to pay less for the surgery than if your dog is older, overweight, or has a health condition. All of these factors can make the surgery more complicated and will use more resources and take more time.

Spaying and neutering can be less expensive if you go through a low-cost clinic, and sometimes, rescue groups and humane societies have subsidized services. How much you pay will also depend on where you’re located, as shown through the price chart below.

US Regional Price Chart

Procedure West Coast Midwest East Coast
Neuter package (6+ months) $453.95 $406.95 $448.95
Neuter package (less than 6 months) $389.95 $348.95 $384.95
Spay package (6+ months/50+ pounds) $548.95 $491.95 $541.95
Spay package (6+ months/less than 50 pounds) $478.95 $428.95 $472.95
Spay package (less than 6 months) $415.95 $372.95 $410.95

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Is Spaying or Neutering Painful for Dogs?

It is a surgery, but the anesthesia prevents the dogs from feeling any pain during the procedure. After surgery, however, there will be some pain, but you will probably be given pain medication to help ease any discomfort your dog might be experiencing.

Recovery for your dog will include:
  • Wearing one of those Elizabethan collars, also known as the cone of shame, to prevent your pup from licking the incision.
  • Checking the incision every day to ensure it’s healing properly.
  • No bath for your dog for a minimum of 10 days after the surgery.
  • Find a quiet place inside and away from other pets to help with recovery.
  • Try to stop your dog from jumping and running for up to 2 weeks (or however long your vet recommends).

If you see any discharge, swelling, or redness at the incision site or if it pulls open, contact your vet as soon as possible. Any other signs of illness or lethargy are also not normal reactions, so speak to your vet about any concerns.

Arguments Against Spaying and Neutering

When shouldn’t you spay or neuter your dog? There are debates around this subject, with the majority of society siding with the benefits of spaying and neutering dogs. However, studies have shown that not every dog will medically benefit from the surgery.

While it’s thought that spaying and neutering help prevent certain cancers, research has shown that it can be connected to other cancers and joint disorders.

It has also been said that removing the sexual reproduction organs means also removing the hormones that support strength in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments and sends signals that tell the bones to stop growing. Therefore, the adult dog’s body might not be as strong or robust without those essential hormones.

Overall, it has been proven that dogs live longer lives after being spayed or neutered, so the choice is yours. However, if you opt to forgo this surgery for your dog, you need to be prepared to have your dog shunned, particularly at dog parks, boarding kennels, and doggy daycares.

a black dog wearing a cone of shame
Image Credit: Allison Peterson, Pixabay

When Should I Have My Dog Spayed or Neutered?

Most dogs get neutered or spayed when they are between 6 and 9 months of age, depending on the breed and size. The surgery can also be done on older dogs, but the younger they are, the easier and quicker they will recover. Even puppies 8 weeks old can be fixed, but this is a more typical practice in shelters and rescues.

With small breeds that are expected to be under 50 pounds when mature, the females should be spayed before their first heat, which is usually about 5 to 6 months of age, and males by about 6 months old.

With larger breeds that are expected to weigh over 50 pounds when adults, it’s recommended to wait until they have reached full physical maturity, which might be about 12 to 15 months of age.

Large dogs take longer to physically mature than small dogs, which explains the difference in timing. Speak to your vet about what your best options are for you and your pup.

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Now that you have the information, hopefully, you can make the best decision about spaying or neutering your dog. Speaking to your vet is always the most important thing you can do while weighing your options. And of course, any concerns or questions you may have will be addressed so that you can make the best and most informed choice for you and your dog.

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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