What You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering
by Amy Smith - 8/7/19
If you’ve recently become a dog or cat owner, you’ve probably heard that you should get your pet spayed or neutered. These surgical procedures, though pricey in some locations, have a host of benefits for the animals. Learn about the comparative costs of spaying and neutering, as well as the reasons why you should get this surgery for your pet.
What Is Spaying?
Spaying is the operation on a female animal, in which the vet removes several parts of the animal’s reproductive system. These organs are the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus, which are responsible for producing reproductive cells and enabling pregnancy and birth. The vet shaves a small area on the female’s abdomen, makes an incision through the skin and surgically removes those organs. The vet closes the incision with stitches and prescribes pain medication to reduce any discomfort as the wound heals. You may need to prevent your pet from licking or scratching the incision site for the first few days. If she is quite persistent about bothering the area, your vet may give you a plastic, cone-shaped collar to snap around her neck, which will prevent her from reaching the stitches with her tongue.
What Is Neutering?
Neutering has similar consequences for a male animal. A vet removes the testicles that produce the sperm cells necessary for the male to reproduce. Because a male cat or dog’s reproductive organs are external, thus more easily accessible, neutering requires less surgery and recovery time than spaying. The incision is minor and in cats doesn’t even require stitches. Your male pet may receive pain medication for a few days after he is neutered.
Why Spay or Neuter?
The primary benefit of spaying/neutering is obviously the prevention of unwanted offspring. Many pet owners simply don’t want the trouble or cost of caring for puppies or kittens. Owners of male pets often feel responsible for preventing their animal from impregnating other pets or strays in the neighborhood. With approximately 6.5 million animals entering shelters each year in the United States, many areas are already overwhelmed by high numbers of unwanted stray cats and dogs. Spaying and neutering help prevent the worsening of this problem and the related one of high numbers of euthanized animals. Another “side benefit” of spaying/neutering is that it often has a calming effect on pets. The surgery reduces levels of hormones that can cause animals to act rowdy and aggressive, engage in excessive barking or yowling, and roam far from home in search of a mate. The surgery can also reduce instances of pets urinating in and around a house to “mark” their territory for mating purposes. Finally, the procedures can prevent certain cancers of the reproductive system and prostate problems in males.
How the Costs Stack Up
In general, spaying a female dog or cat costs more than neutering a male, as the procedure is more invasive and takes longer. You could pay anywhere from $50 to $500 to spay a cat, but the price of neutering ranges from $50 to $200. For dogs, the numbers are also dependent on the animal’s size, as dogs come in a much broader range of sizes than cats. How much does it cost to spay a dog? Well, it can cost from $65 to $500, while neutering will probably fall somewhere between $45 and $300. If a veterinary clinic performs the procedure, expect to pay closer to the high end of these estimates. Low-cost spay/neuter services are often available through animal shelters or pet stores, however, and these are often publicly funded and much less expensive for pet owners.
Amy Smith is a writer specializing in family and parenting topics. She teaches English, Latin and music at a private school and lives with her husband and five children on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania.