How Much Does it Cost to Spay a Dog: Comprehensive Guide on Dog Spaying Costs

Medical articles
A dog in his cone after getting spayed

While we adore our dogs, we likely wouldn't relish the notion of ending up with unexpected miniature versions of them. Spaying, also known as overiohysterectomy, is a surgical procedure specifically for female dogs to prevent unwanted pregnancies. During a spay, the dog’s uterus and ovaries are removed. Neutering, on the other hand, is the equivalent procedure for male dogs, during which their testicles are removed. Both spaying and neutering are performed by qualified and skilled veterinarians and their healthcare teams. These procedures are a responsible way to manage the canine population and avoid unintended litters. 

Why Spaying Your Dog Matters 

The benefits of spaying include much more than preventing unwanted litters. Spaying a dog eliminates any risk of ovarian or uterine complications, such as cancer or pyometra, and greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer (breast cancer). Spaying your pup can significantly increase her chances of a long life

While there is a lot of discussion in the veterinary community about the right timing for a spay to happen, there’s a general agreement that spaying is in the best interest of most female dogs (and their owners). Of course, for pet owners, the cost of spaying a dog is also a major priority. 

So How Much Does It Cost to Get a Dog Spayed? 

The actual cost to spay a dog can vary depending on a number of conditions. A dog’s size is one of the primary determining factors – the cost for spaying a larger dog, especially one who is significantly overweight, will be understandably greater than for a small one. Reproductive status also play a role – a dog who has recently given birth or is currently in heat will have a decidedly larger and more vascular reproductive system. Veterinarians are more than qualified to perform most spays, regardless of reproductive status, weight, and/or health, but there is a somewhat greater risk for bleeding as well as consideration for the time it takes to perform the procedure that needs to be considered in some dogs compared to others. Older dogs or those with ongoing illnesses may have a harder time recovering from major abdominal surgery too, and as a result, might require a higher level of care, which will cost more. 

Average Cost to Spay a Dog 

Dog spay costs at a regular veterinary clinic may range between $250 - $750 for an uncomplicated procedure in an otherwise healthy dog. Because of unique healthcare considerations, the cost to spay a dog who is larger, in heat, or has ongoing health concerns will be greater. 

The cost to spay a dog through a low-cost, non-profit organization is typically much less because these practices rely on grants and donations and often aren’t outfitted with the “bells and whistles” some private clinics may have. Because of this, the cost could range between free-of-charge and $400. It is important to understand that veterinarians at such organizations are fully qualified to perform spays and neuters and that they maintain an appropriate level of care for their patients, regardless of cost. 

Factors Affecting the Cost of Spaying a Dog 

The cost of veterinary care is as much affected by the local cost of living as groceries or housing. As a result, veterinary clinics serving metropolitan areas are likely to have higher prices for spaying than those in a rural town. 

The type of clinic also has an impact – private or corporate veterinary practices (who have to operate with certain profit margins with intent for growth) will charge more for spaying than non-profit organizations whose existence is dedicated purely to controlling pet overpopulation and providing low-cost care. 

Level of care is another factor impacting cost. All clinics anesthetize dogs using modern protocols, approved surgical techniques, and provide pain medications for dogs while recovering, but the type of clinic affects the care options they offer beyond these things. 

Low-cost/non-profit clinics provide adequate care, but they rely less on major and expensive technology. Their surgical techniques, staffing, and schedule organization are aimed at performing procedures as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible, increasing the number of surgeries they can do in a day, and lowering the cost for each. 

Other veterinary clinics may take advantage of advanced healthcare technologies, techniques, and medications, which may carry greater cost, and this cost is translated into the price of the procedure. They may offer or require preoperative lab tests, advanced monitoring and supportive care during the procedure, and more intensive postoperative hospital care after the surgery. All of these add to the cost of spaying your dog but may also improve surgery outcomes and recovery time. 

A dog resting in his dog bed after being spayed

Low-Cost Dog Spaying Options 

A local animal shelter that handles dogs, such as one aligned with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), should be able to provide contact resources for affordable spay and neuter surgeries. Some shelters have veterinary teams who offer dog spaying surgeries at reduced cost, though not every shelter can afford to keep veterinarians on staff. 

Shelters, community clinics, low-cost organizations, or other non-profit veterinary clinics will likely have the lowest costs available in a given area. Some may even have grants or income-based pricing models which can make the cost of spaying a dog much more approachable for owners who otherwise can’t afford it. 

Pet Insurance and Spaying Costs 

While most pet insurance plans are focused on accident and illness coverage, optional add-on pet wellness plans such as Embrace’s Wellness Rewards offer support for pet owners that extends beyond illnesses and injuries. You may wonder how much is pet insurance? While the answer depends on the coverage you choose, when an optional pet wellness plan is added to pet insurance, it gives pet owners support and reimbursement for all kinds of care they may otherwise find unaffordable. These plans can include reimbursement for routine care like vaccines, healthy pet prescriptions, and spay/ neuter surgeries, as well as coverage for unplanned illnesses and emergencies. 

Benefits of Spaying Your Dog 

For many, the concept of spaying their dog is simply a matter of habit. But especially for new pet owners, the decision whether or not to spay can be a big one! A conversation with your dog’s veterinarian can help guide you through this important milestone. 

Spaying is an important healthcare decision for dogs not intended for quality breeding programs. The earliest and most obvious benefit of spaying is the prevention of unintended litters, but what other health benefits are there? Dogs who are spayed have an exponentially lower chance of developing mammary cancer (breast cancer) than dogs who are not spayed. Waiting to spay (or not spaying at all) increases a dog’s risk of developing this condition by more than 16 times in some cases. Spaying a dog also eliminates her risk of developing uterine or ovarian cancer (since those organs are removed), and eliminates the risk of a dangerous uterine infection called pyometra. Spaying your dog is like giving her a permanent vacation from her monthly cycle, which decreases the risk of her roaming to find a mate or having potential suitors lurking around.  

Risks and Disadvantages of Spaying a Dog 

It’s natural and healthy to have concerns about major surgeries, for yourself or for your pet. Rest assured, spays and neuters are extremely common surgeries performed by veterinarians; millions of these surgeries take place across the country every year. You can talk to your dog’s veterinarian about any concerns you have and be sure to ask questions if you have them. 

While any procedure involving anesthesia and major surgery carries risk, most healthy young adult dogs generally won’t have any issues. Veterinary practices perform physical examinations to rule out obvious health concerns, recommend labwork for ensuring the internal organs are functioning normally, and use carefully crafted anesthetic protocols to keep pets asleep during the procedure and comfortable as they recover afterwards. 

Bleeding is a risk during and after the procedure, but veterinarians are trained to minimize these risks where possible. For dogs that recently went into heat or had puppies, the bleeding risk is a bit higher, because the uterus has a larger blood supply. Your veterinarian will likely discuss any concerns for bleeding risk with you prior to the procedure, and they will give you instructions on how best to care for your pet after the procedure to ensure the risk of bleeding after surgery remains minimal. 

If your pet has an existing health condition, especially one involving organ function, be sure their veterinarian is aware so the surgery plan can be adjusted accordingly. Dog breeds prone to reactions to certain medications will almost certainly be identified by the veterinarian, and the medication and care protocols will be adjusted for them as well. 

Conclusion: Making an Informed Decision on Spaying Your Dog 

Most female dogs will greatly benefit from being spayed, but as always, the dog’s veterinarian should be consulted when making this decision. Discussing risk factors, concerns, and your lifestyle as the dog’s owner will help you make a decision that is in your dog’s best interest. 

When considering the surgery, remember that cost doesn’t have to be a limiting factor. Pet insurance combined with pet wellness plans, can help manage the cost of care, as can affordable pet care resources like low-cost spay/neuter programs.