Neutering your pet is a broader term used to describe the removal of the reproduction organs – spaying in the female and castration in the male. While this is a routine operation carried out by most veterinarians on a daily basis, it should not diminish its seriousness. In the female particularly, neutering involves extensive abdominal surgery.
Most veterinary hospitals offer flat rate prices for the neutering procedures for two reasons: They are commonly requested, and to make it easier and clearer for owners because it is an advisable procedure.
Neutering helps to reduce the number of unwanted puppies and kittens while preventing future disease such as cancer in your pet.
So why the variation on prices?
In the same way (for example) individual hairdressers have different pricing systems for the same services, so do veterinary hospitals. Some factors influencing the pricing strategy are:
Body weight of your pet – Prices are set (normally) on the weight of your pet and divided into ranges 2.2 – 22 lbs., 22 – 44lbs., and so on. Among the reasons, weight gives a guide as to how much anesthetic and pain relief will be required. Different hospitals may use different weight ranges, therefore affecting their price points. If your pet is on the cusp of a range, or he/she just tips over into the next bracket of weight, this can also vary the price between different veterinarians.
Profit – Contrary to belief, (not all) but many veterinary hospitals make little or no profit on routine neutering. Veterinarians generally believe more in developing a relationship with you and your pet and view neutering as a way to do this. Veterinary hospitals who choose not to discount neutering may appear more expensive, but are in fact, probably charging the correct price for the time and specialist skill it takes to do the procedure.
Charities or neuter clinics will offer neutering for free or for a small donation to those under financial hardship. Again, this is due to the importance of this procedure.
Hospital standard – Standards do vary from hospital to hospital; some are state-of-the-art while others are more old-school. At the very minimum, your neuter price should include anesthesia, pain relief, the surgery itself by a licensed veterinarian, individual sterile equipment and a re-check a week or so later. Other hospitals may include extra monitoring services during anesthesia, intravenous fluids, blood tests, and 1:1 nursing care post-operatively. All these increase the safety and care but also affect the price.
Age – If your pet is older, they require a little more help and care. This can include pre-operative blood work, extra monitoring and equipment during anesthesia, intravenous fluids or overnight stays. Again, these will increase the standard price.
What to check
Ensure the veterinarian you are consulting and who will be performing the surgery is licensed, and you and your pet are satisfied with their care and hospital environment. Many are happy to show you around the establishment if you make an appointment to visit.
Ask your veterinarian what is included in the price and if there are any extras or choices for you. The minimum requirements (mentioned earlier) must absolutely be included in your price. Walk away if not. It is worth checking their weight ranges, along with the services included in their price. This enables you to make correct (like for like) comparisons. If you have pet insurance, ask if neutering is covered, and what is included in terms of what the insurance will pay for.
Lastly, you are by far the best judge of your pet. If you feel uneasy about a particularly hospital, veterinarian or procedure, walk away or ask for second opinions. Price is important but should not be your only deciding factor.