All dog owners know how expensive it can be to have a dog – sometimes much more expensive than we expected! On top of food, toys and regular vet bills, which can cost the average dog owner around $1,000 a year, we also have to be prepared for major vet expenses, like getting your dog fixed.
No one wants to be taken by surprise when a major expense, like neutering your male dog, hits your wallet. It pays to be prepared so you know what to expect from the process and how much it will cost, as well as why neutering your male dog is so important.
Why Should You Neuter Your Dog?
Getting your dog neutered is the responsible thing to do as a pet owner.
The ASPCA, like many major animal welfare organizations, recommends that all pet owners neuter their male dogs. So it’s surprising that up to 25% of pet dogs in the US are not fixed. One of the best things that you can do as a pet owner to ensure that your dog lives a long, healthy and happy life is to get them neutered.
Benefits of Neutering Your Dog
Having your dog neutered has many benefits, for both you and your dog, and for society as a whole.
Neutering your dog benefits your dog’s health, your wallet and society.
- Health: Neutering your dog eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and prostate issues.
- Behaviour: In general, neutered dogs display less aggressive behaviour than un-fixed male dogs. They are calmer and less likely to get into fights. Male dogs can smell a female dog in heat up to half a mile away, so neutered dogs are less prone to running away to look for a mate.
- Financial: The cost of having a male dog neutered is much lower than the cost of treating future reproductive health issues or injuries resulting from fights or escapes.
- Societal: Neutering your male dog is the number one way that you can do your part to help reduce the number of homeless animals that end up in shelters every year.
Risks of Neutering Your Dog
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with neutering your dog. There are also many myths about neutering, such as the idea that neutered pets are more prone to gaining weight. As long as you maintain a healthy diet and provide plenty of exercise for your dog, having him neutered shouldn’t contribute to weight gain.
Neutering, like any surgery, comes with some risks.
That said, there are some real risks to be aware of:
- Surgery Risks: Neutering your dog is a surgical procedure, and there are the standard risks that come with any surgery. Your dog could have a bad reaction to the anesthesia or drugs, or suffer from bleeding or infections. Your vet will work with you and your dog to mitigate these risks.
- Pure-Bred Dogs: Recently some studies have shown an increased risk of health issues, such as hip dysplasia and certain cancers, in pure-bred dogs that have been neutered. Since these studies focused only on pure-bred dogs, more research is needed to see if these dogs were already prone to health issues due to their breed. Your best bet is to work with your vet to determine if neutering is right for you and your dog.
Although neutering your dog is associated with some risks (it is a surgery, after all), overall the health and financial benefits to you and your dog are huge. Neutering your dog is a responsible choice, and it’s the best way for you to do your part to alleviate the homeless pet crisis.
What To Expect From The Neutering Process
Now that you’ve decided to have your dog neutered, it’s time to prepare yourself for what to expect from the process. Planning ahead will help you ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible for you and your dog.
Planning ahead and knowing what to expect will make for a smoother neuter experience for you and your dog.
What Is Neutering
Male dogs are neutered in order to prevent them from being able to reproduce and to stop their mating drive. When neutering a male dog, the vet will make an incision in the dog’s scrotum and remove both of his testicles. The incision is then closed with stitches that will dissolve as he heals.
When To Neuter
The most common age to neuter a male dog is between six and nine months old, but healthy puppies can be neutered at any time after they are 8 weeks old. Some vets recommend waiting to neuter male dogs until they hit puberty, which usually happens around 6 or 7 months old. Adult dogs can also be neutered, but the dog may be more prone to complications from the surgery. You should talk to your vet to determine the best time to neuter your dog.
Dogs can be neutered at any age, but age 6 months is the most common time to neuter a male dog.
Preparing for Surgery
Your vet will likely run blood work before the surgery to make sure your dog is healthy enough for surgery. Even if your dog is healthy, this important blood work can serve as a baseline for future tests.
Your vet will provide specific pre-op instructions, but generally your dog should not eat for about 8 hours before surgery because the anesthesia may cause nausea.
Since your dog will need to take it easy for a few days after surgery, you may want to invest some time before surgery getting them comfortable in a crate or confined area so that you can leave them somewhere safe if you can’t be with them after surgery.
The best thing you can do for your dog before their neuter surgery is to stay calm. Our dogs can pick up on our emotions, so staying calm and reassuring will help keep your dog relaxed.
Your dog will require some special attention after his surgery. It will take at least a few days, and up to a few weeks for him to get completely back to normal.
Your dog will require some extra care and attention for a few days after his neuter surgery.
Talk to your vet before surgery to find out whether you’ll be able to pick up your dog on the same day as their surgery or if the vet wants to keep your dog overnight. If your dog is higher-risk due to his age, weight or health, it’s more likely that they’ll need to stay overnight for monitoring.
Your dog may experience some nausea after his neuter surgery, so don’t be alarmed if he refuses the first few meals after coming home. If he still won’t eat after a few days, it’s time to contact your vet.
Because of the breathing tube inserted in his throat during surgery, you may notice that your dog is coughing after surgery. This is normal, but you should contact your vet if the coughing lasts more than a few days.
As the effects of the anesthesia wear off, your dog may be extra tired and lazy for a few days. You’ll notice his personality return to normal once he is feeling better, but you’ll need to keep him calm and limit his activity for a few days or weeks until his incision is fully healed. This might mean crating him when you’re out. Contact your vet if your dog doesn’t start to bounce back after a few days.
You’ll need to check your dog’s incision daily as it heals. Watch for signs of infection, and contact your vet if you notice any discharge. You may need to use an Elizabethan cone (also known as a “cone of shame’) or a t-shirt to keep your dog from irritating his incision if you notice that your dog is licking or biting the area.
In most cases, your dog will be back to their normal self after a few days of rest and pampering, and your vet is always a phone call away if you have any concerns or questions.
The Cost of Neutering Your Dog
Neutering costs can vary widely depending on where you live and your dog’s age and health.
The cost of neutering a dog can vary widely depending on where you live. Your dog’s age, weight and breed can also be a factor in the overall cost. On average, it can cost up to $250 to neuter a male dog. We breakdown the costs involved in neutering your dog below, and then take a look at some ways to bring the cost down.
Neutering a male dog is a less complicated surgery than spaying a female dog, and so it generally costs less. Private clinics can charge up to $250 to neuter a dog, and there can be added costs if your dog is older, obese or has other health issues (up to an additional $125).
Pre-op blood work can cost an additional $65, but it’s worth the cost to ensure your dog is fit for surgery. Plus, you’ll have the results as a baseline for future visits.
You may also have to plan for additional costs to prepare your home for your dog’s recovery. For example, you may need to budget for a crate, gates or other barrier systems.
Your dog’s after-care after his neutering surgery will come with some additional costs.
You can expect to pay an additional $30-$50 a night if your dog needs to stay overnight at the vet’s clinic. Follow-up visits are often included in the cost of the neuter surgery, but it’s important to confirm this with your vet before surgery. I you need to return to the clinic for a follow-up visit or to have your dog’s stitches removed, this follow-up visit can cost you another $30-$100 if not included in the neutering fee.
You may also need to hire a pet sitter to check on your dog a few times a day if you can’t be home with your dog after his neuter surgery. This can run you another $30-$50 per day.
You may also need to fork over the $25 to buy a “cone of shame” to keep them from irritating their incision if your dog is licking or biting at their stitches.
Be sure to talk to your vet before surgery to make sure you understand what’s included in the fee and what extra expenses you may need to be prepared for.
Like all surgery, neuter surgery can come with some complications.
Neutering is a major surgery, and unfortunately there can sometimes be complications with any surgery. Discuss the possible risks and any additional fees with your vet prior to surgery so that you won’t be faced with a surprise bill. Many vets will not charge for follow-up visits related to a surgery, but you’ll definitely want to confirm that with your own vet.
If your dog experiences any complications and requires an exam or treatment that is not included in the surgery costs, you can expect to pay an additional $100 or more. Common complications include infections of the incision, adverse reactions to the anesthesia, and incontinence after surgery. If your dog needs to stay overnight at the vet’s to be monitored, expect at least $30-$50 a night in extra costs, in addition to any equipment or medication.
Overall, you can expect to spend around $250 to neuter a healthy male dog, but it pays to be prepared for the extra costs and for any potential emergencies. Costs can soar if your dog has any health issues, is older or overweight, or has any complications due to surgery.
How to Save on Neutering Your Dog
There are ways to save on the cost of neutering your dog.
While neutering your dog is the responsible thing to do, many pet owners put it off because the costs can be so high. Thankfully, there are a few ways to save on the cost of neutering your dog.
When considering adding a new dog to your family, adopt from a reputable organization that offers discounts or reimbursements on neutering costs, or even one that neuters dogs before sending them to their new homes.
Specialized vet clinics that focus on spaying and neutering pets can offer lower prices than a full-service, private clinic.
The ASPCA has a great resource to help you find low-cost spay and neuter clinics near you.
Some pet insurance plans may help cover the cost, or at least let you spread the cost into equal payments. Be sure to read the fine print and know what is (and isn’t) covered, and include the monthly premiums in your budget.
Neutering Your Dog
Neutering your dog will help him have a long, happy and healthy life, along with benefiting society (and your wallet).
Neutering your dog is one of the best ways that you can help to alleviate the homeless pet crisis while also making sure your dog will live a long, healthy and happy life.
The surgery itself, the pre-op blood work and the after-surgery care can cost up to $250, and complications and additional services can drive that price up.
Although neutering your dog is certainly not cheap, it’s much less expensive than the cost of treating reproductive cancers or injuries sustained in a fight or an escape.
Planning ahead and looking into low-cost options can help to mitigate some of the costs, so you can focus on keeping your dog healthy and happy for years to come.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.