How much does it cost to spay a dog? Why should I do it? Are there side benefits? Dog owners often have these and other questions before they spay or neuter their dog. Here are answers to common spay/neuter concerns.
What does spaying/neutering do?
Spaying and neutering removes a dog’s reproductive organs. Spaying is the removal of a female dog’s ovaries (which produce eggs), fallopian tubes (through which eggs exit the ovaries to be fertilized), and uterus (where fertilized eggs develop into puppies). Neutering is the removal of a male dog’s testicles. This controls the pet population by preventing dogs from getting pregnant accidentally. Many owners whose dogs have unplanned litters end up having trouble finding homes for these puppies, who end up in shelters. Preventing unwanted litters reduces the number of animals that go into shelters and are euthanized for lack of good homes.
Are there other benefits to spay/neuter?
According to the ASPCA, dogs who have been spayed/neutered are at lower risk of some medical conditions. Spayed dogs have a lower likelihood of getting breast cancer and are unable to get ovarian or uterine tumors. Dogs who have been neutered cannot get testicular cancer and are less likely to have enlarged prostates.
There are practical benefits as well. Females in heat are messy. By spaying your dog, you prevent her going into heat, therefore reducing the mess and eliminating the need for pricey products such as dog pads to reduce the mess. Additionally, spayed and neutered dogs are less likely to escape and get lost. Unfixed dogs, especially males, will often roam in search of a mate. The roaming instinct of dogs who have been spayed/neutered is significantly reduced and they are less likely to get lost as a result.
Most significantly, studies have shown a link between spaying/neutering and a longer lifespan. The impact seems to be greatest when the dog has been spayed/neutered in the first two years of life.
Can it be reversed?
Because it is a surgical removal of reproductive organs, spaying and neutering cannot be reversed.
What's the cost to spay a dog or neuter a dog?
The cost of spaying and neutering varies greatly. The major factor is the cost of anesthesia, which varies based on the size of the dog. The larger the dog, the more anesthesia needed and the higher the cost will be. As a result, the cost to have your dog spayed or neutered at the vet’s office may range from $80 to $250.
That does not mean that cost should prevent anyone from spaying or neutering their dog. Most rescues and shelters include the cost of spaying and neutering in their adoption fees, making it more affordable. Additionally, low-cost spay/neuter clinics across the country prevent unwanted litters for a fraction of the cost. Contact your local animal control agency or ASPCA chapter to find low-cost clinics near you.
When should I spay or neuter my dog?
Dogs may have the surgery as young as 8 weeks of age. Ideally, they will have the surgery before they reach 6 months old. This is the age when females are able to reproduce, so spaying before their first heat (menstrual cycle) prevents any chance of pregnancy. The ASPCA advises neutering males before 6 months of age as well. Consult your vet as to the best time for your dog.
What if I like the look of an unneutered dog?
Many dog owners say they like how an unneutered dog looks. If appearance is a concern for you, ask your vet about Neuticles. It’s a testicular implant that gives neutered dogs the look of real testicles. The manufacturer recommends them in dogs 8 months or older and says that they can be implanted during neutering or years after surgery. (Disclaimer, we are not endorsing Neuticles the company. We just want people to be aware of this option if appearance is a concern.)
Questions like what is the cost to spay a dog and if it has side benefits are normal when you're making a big decision about your dog's health. This may be the most important decision you make, so it's good to be educated. If you have further questions, please consult your vet, who can give you answers based on your dog's specific needs.
If you liked this, check out:
Microchip For Dogs - How Does It Work? - A great choice for many dog owners. Is it right for you?
Three Reasons To Test Your Dog's DNA - We did it. Here's why.
Dog Muzzle For Chewing - A great, affordable, and humane way to stop your dog from chewing up your home.
Photo credit: Tom Stovall