Neutering your dog can benefit your dog’s health and help prevent unplanned pregnancies. Find out what you should consider and how to keep your dog safe and healthy.
Neutering is a routine surgical procedure to prevent your dog from reproducing. In male dogs it’s known as castration and in female dogs the procedure is called spaying.
Removing the testicles in male dogs makes them infertile and causes a drop in levels of testosterone.
In female dogs, the ovaries and sometimes the uterus are removed. This means your dog can’t get pregnant anymore and won’t come into season.
Whether your dog is a male or female, having them neutered can provide health benefits, as well as preventing your home from being overrun with puppies.
Neutering is performed under general anaesthetic and the vet will also give your dog painkillers to make sure they don’t feel anything during the operation and afterwards.
If your male dog is being neutered, the vet will make a small incision to remove its testicles.
The alternative to surgery is chemical castration. This may involve injecting a hormone implant under the skin. The implant isn’t a permanent solution and the effects can be reversed if it’s removed.
If a female dog is being spayed, the vet will make a small incision in the tummy area to remove the ovaries, and usually the womb.
Some spaying procedures can be done through key-hole surgery, known as laparoscopic surgery. Because the incisions are smaller, dogs usually recover more quickly this way.
Your dog will be ready to collect a few hours after their surgery. They’ll need to take it easy in the following days and your vet will let you know how long they should rest for and how to look after them. The average recovery time is seven to 10 days and females usually take longer to recover than males.
Neutering your female dog is more expensive than castrating a male dog because the procedure is more intrusive and involves surgery to internal organs.
Keyhole surgery is a less invasive option for female dogs, but typically costs more than standard spaying.
This will depend on your vet and your location, as well as the size and age of your dog. The type of procedure you opt for will also affect the cost.
According to ManyPets, the average cost of spaying a female dog in the UK was £299.22 in May 2022.
Having a larger dog will make the procedure more expensive though, the average cost of spaying for each size category is as follows:
As it’s a more straightforward procedure, castrations typically cost less than spaying, with the average cost coming in at £221.12 in May 2022.
Again, the size of your dog will change the cost:
Sometimes neutering is done free of charge if you’re getting your dog from an animal charity or you’re receiving benefits.
The price you pay to have your dog neutered will typically include:
Where you live in the UK will affect how much you’ll need to pay to have your dog neutered.
For example, ManyPets found that if you live in London, you could find yourself paying around £323.86 on average to castrate a large male dog, whereas in the South West it was £221.25.
In the North, it cost £235.56 to spay a small female dog weighing less than 10kg on average, while a dog in the same weight range can cost £307.39 in the Central Region.
If you want a medium-sized female dog neutered in Wales or Scotland it could cost you around £216.
Even within areas the prices can vary widely, so it’s always worth comparing the costs at vet practices around where you live.
Chemical castration isn’t as widely available in the UK as the more commonly used surgical method, so not every veterinary practice will offer the procedure.
The costs for chemical castration will vary, but you could find it costing around £110 for a treatment lasting six months and £215 for a 12-month treatment.
Chemically castrated dogs can still be fertile for up to two months after the procedure, so they should still be kept away from female dogs in heat during this time.
Keyhole surgery can be ideal for smaller female dogs, as the smaller surgical wounds mean a much faster recovery time.
There’s also less risk of your dog experiencing complications with laparoscopic spaying.
Because the procedure uses highly specialised equipment - including small cameras, video screens and special instruments - keyhole surgery costs more than traditional spaying.
The costs can vary between vets and again will depend on the size of your dog but, according to the Royal Veterinary College in June 2021, you could expect to pay:
Small (8 to 10kg): £415
Medium (10.1 to 25kg): £540
Large (25.1kg+): £640
This can depend on your dog’s breed, weight and gender, so you should always take your vet’s advice.
You can normally have your dog neutered at around six months old, but it's important that female dogs are spayed at the right time.
It may be recommended that your female is spayed before they have their first season.
Female dogs shouldn’t be spayed during their season or if they’re showing signs of a phantom pregnancy.
And if your dog’s overweight or underweight, it's important that they get to a healthy size before having surgery.
Vets sometimes recommend that large and giant breed dogs are neutered later than six months old, as some evidence suggests that neutering earlier than this can lead to joint problems in later life.
No, pet insurance won’t cover you for having your dog neutered. This is because pet insurance is designed to cover the cost of unexpected illnesses and injuries.
As neutering is a routine and elective procedure, it can be planned and budgeted for, so it won’t be covered by your policy.
Once you’ve brought your dog home from surgery, you’ll want to make them as comfortable as possible to help with their recovery.
Here are some tips to help:
Give your dog a quiet, comfortable place indoors where they can rest and have space away from other pets and children
Prevent your dog from licking their wound by putting them in an Elizabethan collar or cone. Check the wound every day to make sure there’s no sign of infection
For the first 24 hours, only let your dog outside to toilet and try using a lead in the garden to stop them from running around
To prevent strain on the wound in the first week, lift your dog in and out of the car and don’t let them walk upstairs or jump on the sofa
From day three, you may be able to take your dog on short lead walks. Keep to this routine for seven to ten days
Avoid muddy areas to keep the wound clean and don’t bathe your dog or let them swim for at least ten days after their surgery
If your dog isn’t neutered - also known as keeping them intact - or they come into season before they’re spayed, it’s important to know how to keep them safe, happy and healthy.
A dog coming into heat will feel hormonal and may seem out of sorts and confused. Try to distract and keep her calm by entertaining her with toys and games in the house and garden
Male dogs can smell a female in heat from miles away and will go to any lengths to access your dog, so make sure you don’t leave her alone whenever she’s outside
Make sure your fences and boundaries are secure to stop your male escaping to reach a dog in heat and to protect your female from being the target of unrequited love
Putting a tracking device on your dog’s collar can help you monitor their activity and locate them if they do escape on an amorous adventure
If you’ve got an unneutered male dog in your house and your female’s going into heat, plan a holiday for one of them to avoid you and your dogs going through the stress and anxiety of keeping them apart at home
Special sprays which emit a strong smell can help disguise your dog’s scent when she’s in heat. Using menthol or lavender mixed with a carrier oil can also be effective on your dog. Always make sure that they’re safe to use on canines first
While your intact male can be a risk to females in season, they can also be the target of aggression from neutered dogs. So make sure you keep your dog in sight and under control at all times