Skip to content

How much does it cost to desex a dog?

puppy sitting on table with vet behind it

The cost to desex a dog will depend on many factors including the gender of your dog, their age, size and breed and the clinic they get desexed at. Desexing can definitely help to limit the number of unwanted litters of puppies but it can also have positive health and behavioural outcomes.

What is desexing?

Desexing means your dog will be sterilised rendering them infertile and unable to breed. In females a surgical procedure known as an ovariohysterectomy (spey) is performed which involves removal of the uterus and ovaries. For males a surgery known as an orchidectomy (castration) is performed in which the testes are removed.

For males, the surgery involves an incision in the scrotum through which the testicles are then removed and the scrotum is sutured closed. Occasionally the scrotum is removed, but this is usually only in mature and larger breed dogs or those with a problem with their scrotum requiring it to be removed. A castration is usually relatively quick and fairly minimally invasive and the dog heals quite quickly from the surgery.

For females, a spey is a longer procedure and more invasive, as the surgery requires going into the abdominal cavity. Ideally activity should be restricted for at least 10 days after the procedure to allow adequate healing time.

Why should I desex my dog?

Apart from unwanted litters of puppies, there are also health benefits that dogs can experience with desexing. For females; the risk of mammary cancer (breast cancer) is significantly reduced, and the chance of them getting an infected uterus (pyometra) or ovarian cancer is eliminated. In males; the risk of prostate issues is significantly reduced, and the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated! Another pro for desexing in females is they will not go on heat and consequently no messy discharge to deal with!

Apart from these health benefits there are also some behavioural benefits such as reduced or less likely aggression, dominance, hyperactivity, destructive behaviour and running away.

When should I get my dog desexed?

This is a great question with no right or wrong answer as opinions can vary quite widely for the answer. The average age that vets recommend for desexing is around 6 months of age. 

Although,It is best to ask your treating vet what they recommend depending on your dog’s individual needs including their gender, age and breed.

There are some benefits for large breed dogs to delay desexing until they are skeletally mature,  or more than 12 months of age as this can reduce the incidence of some joint conditions such as hip dysplasia and may reduce the incidence of urinary incontinence and obesity. It is still best to discuss the exact timing with your vet on a case by case basis.

If you adopt a puppy from a welfare organisation or the RSPCA, they will likely already be desexed and this is performed to ensure the dog is desexed before adoption and helps to decrease overpopulation of unwanted puppies. 

What does desexing my dog entail?

Your dog will require surgery to be desexed so they will be dropped off at the vet clinic and picked up usually that same day or the following day. They will be fasted prior to their surgery and it is always a good idea to give them a bath the day before as they can’t get bathed while they are healing from surgery.

The vet or vet nurse will admit your dog and go through any required details about the procedure. They may offer to perform a pre-anaesthetic blood test to check your dog’s internal health before going under anaesthetic.

A standard desexing would include a premedication medication to decrease anxiety and provide pain relief; an IV catheter to provide access for medication straight into the bloodstream and for fluid therapy. Your dog will be surgically clipped, so the hair will be removed where the surgery will take place. For the surgical procedure, the dog gets induced with an IV anaesthetic and intubated with an ET tube down its trachea, which is then connected to oxygen and anaesthetic gas to keep them anaesthetised. 

The dog will then be surgically prepped and monitored during their anaesthetic by a veterinary nurse whilst the vet performs the surgery. Dogs may get external stitches placed or intradermal stitches (which you can’t visualise on the skin as they sit under the skin’s surface layer). 

The vet or vet nurse will hand over your dog when they are ready to go home and go through discharge instructions which may include extra pain relief to give them, exercise restriction and often an Elizabethan collar so they can’t lick or chew their stitches or surgical incision. You will then make a recheck appointment to have your dog’s incision assessed or stitches removed. 

This is a rough guide as to what the desexing procedure entails but it can vary widely and as such, so do the costs. 

So how much does desexing a dog cost?

Usually desexing a male costs less due to a shorter procedure time and less invasive surgery that is required to desex them. A female desexing costs more due to the invasive surgical procedure (entering through the abdomen) and length of time of the surgery. A castration can cost anywhere from $200 – $500 and a spey can vary from $250 – $800. Some additional costs for females may include:  the weight of the dog, if the female is in heat or pregnant, and if there is a hernia which may be repaired in the same surgery. For male dogs additional costs may include:  if the dog is cryptorchid (either one or both testicles have not descended into the scrotum), if a scrotal ablation is performed, if a hernia needs to be repaired at the same time and the weight and size of the dog. 

It is very worthwhile following the discharge instructions and keeping your dog quiet during their recovery. If dogs do not rest and overdo things after their surgery they might experience swelling which may require extra pain relief, further medication, draining of any fluid or even surgical re-stitching! These may all incur extra costs as well as prolonged discomfort for the dog. 

For the first 24 hours after desexing your dog may be more quiet than usual, as the effects of the anaesthetic can take a while to wear off. Even if they seem to bounce right back, it is important to ensure they are still rested and you can even put them in a crate or small room to ensure they keep quiet. The last thing we want to happen is them tearing out external stitches or loosening any internal ones!

Does pet insurance cover desexing?

Routine dessexing is considered an elective procedure and therefore is not covered by most insurance policies, including Pet Circle Insurance. Pet Insurance is primarily designed to cover for unexpected injuries or illnesses and not routine or elective procedures. However, some insurance policies may allow you to add on routine care (for an additional cost) and therefore the cost or part of the cost of the desexing may be covered.

It is important to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of your pet insurance policy to understand what is covered and what is not covered.