Cost to Neuter a Dog: What Can You Expect to Pay to Get your Dog Neutered?

Medical articles
A cute male dog in a bandana ready to get neutered

As a pet parent, ensuring the health and well-being of your furry family member is a top priority. A critical aspect of responsible pet ownership is neutering your dog. Spaying or neutering helps control the pet population and has several health and behavioral benefits.  

One question that often arises is, "How much does it cost to get a dog neutered?" In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the factors affecting the cost of neutering, the average expenses you can expect, how pet insurance can play a crucial role in covering these costs, and more.  

Importance of Neutering a Dog 

Before we dive into the costs, let's go over what spaying or neutering entails and why neutering is essential for most dogs. While neutering is for male dogs, spaying is a surgical procedure to remove a female dog’s reproductive organs, including the ovaries and uterus, to prevent her from reproducing and eliminate her heat cycle. The procedure is also known as an ovariohysterectomy. But we’re talking about neutering, which is surgical removal of a male dog’s testicles to prevent him from reproducing and reduce unwanted behaviors. This procedure offers numerous advantages: 

  • Neutering your pet increases their chances for a longer, healthier life by eliminating the potential for certain types of cancers, reducing risk for some illnesses, and decreasing certain behavioral concerns (eg, getting lost or hit by a car from roaming to find a mate). 

  • Neutered male dogs tend to exhibit less aggression, territorial behavior, and mounting. This can help keep the people (and plants!) you love safe.  

  • Neutering your pup can prevent testicular cancer and certain prostate problems in males as well as uterine infections and breast tumors in females.  

  • Neutering effectively prevents your pet from causing unplanned litters of puppies. You play a vital role in addressing the issue of dog and cat overpopulation. Each year,countless unwanted dogs face euthanasia in shelters nationwide. Many of these animals result from unintentional breeding by free-roaming, unaltered (ie, intact or non-neutered/non-spayed) pets. We all know how easy it is for a dog to scoot through an open door while you’re bringing in the groceries! The more pets that are spayed or neutered, the fewer accidental litters there will be.  

Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to neuter your dog, it’s important to be aware of the changes that may occur. Knowing what to expect from your dog after neutering requires a bit of research and a lot of observation. From caring for the wound, managing any discomfort, and observing any long-term behavioral adjustments that your pup may experience, there’s a lot going on inside those cuddly bodies.

A dog laying in a bed taking a rest after neutering

Factors Affecting the Cost of Neutering a Dog 

Several factors can influence the cost of neutering your dog, such as the size and breed of your dog, the location and specialized equipment offered by the veterinary clinic, and any additional services or medications required. Understanding these variables can help you estimate the expenses more accurately and plan for the cost of the procedure. 


The cost of veterinary services, including the cost to neuter a dog, varies by location. Urban areas, where rent and cost of living are more expensive, tend to have higher prices than rural locales. In general, if you know that your rent or mortgage is a high percentage of your paycheck, you can assume that your costs for neutering a dog will be on the higher end of the spectrum.  

Pet's Overall Health 

The health and age of your dog can impact the cost. Older dogs or those with underlying health issues might require additional tests or precautions. Anesthesia is the most common risk associated with neutering your dog, so your vet may need to take additional preventative safety and monitoring measures during the procedure, which may increase the cost. 

Type of Clinic or Veterinary Practice 

When it comes to getting your dog neutered, the cost can vary significantly depending on the chosen facility. Many pet parents prefer to visit their primary veterinarian for the procedure due to their familiarity with your beloved pup and access to existing records and information. Some clinics have more advanced or intensive surgical protocols compared to others. This can include types of monitoring during and after surgery; anesthetics and medications associated with the surgery; and surgical techniques that require more skill but reduce anesthesia or recovery time. Advanced protocols and techniques tend to carry an increased cost. Conversely, low-cost clinics and mobile surgical units are available in most areas that offer alternative choices. Each of these options provides a distinct level of service, including follow-up care. Regardless of your choice, the spay or neuter will be performed by a licensed, experienced veterinarian, who will use their skills and training appropriately to achieve the best possible outcome for your pet. 

Additional Services and Expenses 

Some clinics may include pre-surgical bloodwork (ie, to ensure a pet is healthy enough for surgery), advanced methods or types of pain management, and post-operative check-ups in the cost, while others may charge extra for these services. As you are choosing your surgery venue and calculating the cost to neuter your dog, be sure to read your paperwork carefully so that you know what to expect. While your vet may prescribe a specific medication for after the procedure, you may also be considering over the counter pain meds for dogs, either because of cost or in addition to what the veterinarian might prescribe, make sure to discuss this thoroughly with your vet ahead of time. Many OTC medications can be dangerous to dogs, especially if given in combination with other prescription medications.  

Comparison Between Neutering and Spaying Costs 

It's worth noting that neutering tends to be less expensive than spaying. Spaying involves removing the ovaries and uterus, which is usually a more complex surgery because of the surgical technique and skills required. Recovery after a spay tends to take longer as well because the incision is larger, and the surgery requires removal of organs from inside the abdomen or belly. 

Average Cost to Neuter a Dog 

The cost of neutering a dog can vary significantly. You can expect to pay between $50 and $400 for the procedure. However, this range is not fixed, and prices can differ based on the factors mentioned earlier. The average cost to spay a dog tends to be 2-3 times the cost of a neuter. Spaying is a major abdominal surgery, so additional anesthetic medications and surgery time are necessary, as well as more intensive monitoring during and after the procedure. 

Breakdown of Costs at Various Establishments 

To give you a better idea of the breakdown of costs, here's a rough estimate:  

  • Neuter surgery: $50 to $400 

  • Pre-surgical bloodwork: $50 to $200  

  • Post-operative pain medication: $25 to $75 

  • Post-operative check-up: $0 to $100 

Low-Cost Neutering Options  Low-cost clinics or nonprofit organizations often offer neuters at the lower end of the price range, while private veterinary practices may charge more. The range ensures that there are opportunties for all pet parents with varying budgets. If you're on a tight budget, there are options available to reduce the cost of neutering: Public Programs and Nonprofit Organizations 

Many cities and regions have public programs and nonprofit organizations that offer low-cost or even free neutering procedures to pet owners in need. For example, NYC has a program available specifically for those living in public housing. 

Income Assistance Programs 

Some organizations provide financial assistance to pet owners with limited income, helping them cover the cost of neutering. These vary by community, so ask your vet or your local animal shelter about what’s available in your area. 

Online Resources to Find Low-Cost Services 

You can use online resources and directories to locate affordable neutering services in your area. One option is the North Shore Animal League America’s SpayUSA® program, which allows you to search for low-cost options by zip code. 

Pet Insurance and Neutering Costs 

The cost of neutering a dog can be expensive, but it’s worth it for the long-term benefits both to your pup and your community at large.  When you take a step back to look at all the costs involved in owning a dog, neutering is only a small percentage of the cost over their life-time. In the United States, pet owners pay about $2500 per year, on average, for their dog’s needs.    

A dog in a plaid shirt after he's been neutered

Coverage of Neutering by Pet Insurance Companies 

Does dog insurance cover neutering? This is a common question for pet parents, and the answer can be a bit confusing. While dog insurance plans typically do not cover neutering, some pet insurance providers, like Embrace Pet Insurance, offer optional wellness plans that will reimburse the cost of the neuter. This means that although neutering is not covered by the cost of pet insurance plans, there are options available to help.  

Add-on Wellness Plans That May Cover Neutering Costs 

Adding a wellness plan to your pet insurance policy can be a great way ensure that your pup is able to get the care they need. This additional coverage option can be added to a pet insurance policy and is designed to help pet owners manage the costs of routine and preventative care for their pets. While standard pet insurance policies typically cover unexpected costs related to accidents and illnesses, wellness plans focus on preventive health care. They often include coverage for routine veterinary visits, vaccinations, lab tests, and procedures such as spaying and neutering. By adding a wellness plan to your pet insurance policy, you can receive reimbursement for certain preventative care costs or spread those costs out over time. 

Specific coverage and benefits of a wellness plan will vary depending on the pet insurance provider. Do some research and review a pet insurance comparison to make sure your pup is as well-protected as possible. 

Potential Risks and Disadvantages of Neutering a Dog 

While there are numerous benefits to neutering, it's essential to be aware of potential risks and disadvantages: 

Neutering Risks for Any Dog 

Neutering does carry some risk. Bleeding, infection, and intraoperative cardiac events have occasionally been known to happen. Ensuring your pet is as healthy as possible prior to the procedure is an important aspect of alleviating risk. This includes getting regular check-ups with a veterinarian and following up on any recommended treatments as issues arise. After the procedure, make sure you adhere to any post-operative instructions, especially regarding rest and incision care, and give medications as prescribed. Discuss these and any additional concerns with your vet to ensure that you are aware of any major risks and are taking necessary precautions for your pet. 

  Breed-Specific Neutering Risks 

Some breeds may be more susceptible to specific health issues during or after neutering. Consult with your veterinarian to understand the particular risks associated with your dog's breed. For example, certain breeds have an increased genetic risk for bleeding, such as Doberman pinschers. Not all Dobermans are at risk, but those who are genetically prone to heavy bleeding require more care during and after the surgery. Some research indicates that the timing of a spay or neuter can affect certain dog breeds as well. Because of this, some veterinarians prefer to spay or neuter particular types of large breed dogs after 1 year of age. Be sure to discuss breed-related risks with your veterinarian before spaying or neutering so that you understand the pros and cons of timing and risk. 

Inconclusive Research on the Disadvantages of Neutering 

It’s important to note that research on the long-term disadvantages of neutering/spaying, including timing of the procedure (i.e. before the first heat cycle, after 1 year of age, etc.), is ongoing. Not all potential drawbacks are well-documented. Therefore, it's essential to make an informed decision based on your own dog's individual needs. The best way to do this is to talk to your vet. 

Making an Informed Decision on Neutering

Before proceeding with neutering, it's essential to make an informed decision. Here are some steps to consider: 

Discussing Benefits and Risks with a Veterinarian 

Consult with your veterinarian to assess your dog's specific health and behavior and whether neutering is the right choice. They can provide you with valuable insights based on your specific dog and their needs. 

Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Pet Insurance 

Consider enrolling in a pet insurance plan, such as Embrace Pet Insurance, to help cover unexpected costs. We all know that dogs can get into trouble quickly, and pet insurance can help pay for some costly mistakes (like extracting that sock that went missing last week!).  

Investing in a wellness plan in addition to pet insurance can also be worthwhile. This is especially true for puppies, as it helps you get reimbursed for unexpected costs; can provide reimbursement for neutering/spaying; and further ensures you are financially able to cover your pup’s important vaccinations. 

Pet insurance and neutering are two important aspects of responsible pet ownership. By enrolling in a pet insurance plan, such as Embrace Pet Insurance, you can safeguard your furry friend from unexpected accidents and illnesses. A wellness plan can further help prepare for the cost of neutering your dog, which is a crucial part of being a pet parent. Together, these measures ensure the welfare of your dog and contribute to a healthier and happier pet community.