Two dogs getting ready for an operation

A female is spayed at around six months of age.

© Kachalkina Veronika - Shutterstock

How much does it cost to spay a dog in the UK?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Neutering or spaying your dog is not a cruel thing to do. In fact, it's usually a good thing for them.

In the UK pets are routinely neutered as a way to reduce the number of unwanted litters and to help reduce the risk of certain diseases. You can ask the local practice what the usual surgery fee is.

Bear in mind that the cost may be more if complications arise or if your pet requires additional treatment.

How much does it cost to spay a female dog?

‘Spaying’ is the term that refers to neutering a female. The cost of neutering a female can depend on many different factors, including the type of procedure, the size of your dog, and the location of your vet practice. But, generally, spays cost between £130 and £365.

The cost of this will be more than the cost of ‘castrating’ male dogs. This is because the surgery is more complicated in females – it involves making a small incision to enter the abdomen and perform surgery on internal organs, rather than entering the external scrotal sac in males. Spaying is a lengthier procedure, and will require more equipment as well as a longer general anaesthetic.

Can I get my dog spayed for free?

If you have financial constraints or are receiving benefits, you may be eligible for financial aid to help pay the cost of a spay. Contact the nearest veterinary practice for advice.

What is the best age to spay a dog and should you let her go into heat before spaying?

Vets will often spay a female around six months of age. This is usually before they have their first season, which can reduce the risk of certain surgical complications such as excessive bleeding. In larger dogs the vet may recommend spaying them at a year old. This is because there is a possible link between early spay and urinary incontinence later in life.

Is it too late to spay my dog?

Older dogs can be spayed, even if they have had seasons or litters of puppies. This will help to reduce the risk of breast cancer (called mammary tumours in dogs), or an infected womb. Your pet will need a health check before surgery, and the vet may recommend blood tests to check for signs of disease that could affect an anaesthetic.

Do spayed dogs have periods?

It is worth noting that dogs do not have periods in the same way as people. Instead, they will actually be what is called ‘on heat’. This is when they are showing visible signs, such as a swollen vulva and discharge, which means they are at their most fertile at this time. The majority of dogs that are spayed will no longer show signs of being on heat. Still, some individuals will continue to show behavioural or physical changes despite having been spayed. This can sometimes happen if a very small amount of ovary remains in the body. This is unusual, but is a risk factor of the surgery. In these cases, enough hormone may still be produced for your female to show signs of heat, but she will not be able to get pregnant.

If a bitch is neutered after she has already had a litter, she may show behavioural signs of coming into season without any ovarian tissue remaining. If your pet has been spayed but is showing signs of being on heat, ask the vet for advice.

Do female dogs still smell after spaying?

If your female is particularly smelly, you should book a health check. This might not be linked to their reproductive cycle and could in fact be an indicator of infection.

Does neutering a dog calm them down?

Many owners report that their dogs, whether male or female, do calm down after neutering. This is because hyperactivity can sometimes be linked to hormones. However, this is not always the case, so you should speak to your vet about it first. Neutering is unlikely to fix all your dog's behavioural issues!

Is it cruel to spay a dog?

It is not considered cruel to spay a dog. All procedures carry ethical considerations and involve weighing up the pros and cons. The aim of spaying a dog is to reduce risks such as mammary cancer and womb infection, as well as to prevent unwanted puppies. All patients will receive appropriate pain relief and veterinary care to minimise discomfort following surgery. In the UK, the general opinion in the veterinary profession is that the benefits of spaying are greater than the cons.

Do female dogs bleed after spaying?

Although a spay is a routine surgery that vets perform on a regular basis, it is still major surgery and there are possible complications. One of the risks is that a bleed can occur following surgery. If this happens, the vet will need to provide further veterinary treatment and will perform a second surgery to try to identify and stop the cause of the bleed.

A small amount of bleeding from the surgical wound is normal following surgery, and this will be oozing from the skin or fat layers. But if there is a lot of blood leaking from the wound or your pet seems very pale, you should contact the vet straight away.

How long does it take a female dog to recover from being spayed?

This depends on the individual animal. The vet will advise you to keep your pet quiet for a few days, and to gradually introduce walks (on lead). You will probably find that your pet is quite groggy when you first bring them home from surgery. You will need to book in for a post-op check, so that the veterinary team can ensure the wound is healing well.

They will need to be fed a bland diet for the first 24 hours following surgery, as anaesthetic can cause stomach upset. You will need to slightly reduce the amount they are fed, as it is common for females to put on weight due to the changes in hormones.

Can a dog die from spaying?

It is very uncommon for a pet to die during routine surgery, but it can happen. There are risks with any surgery and it is possible for a pet to die during or following surgery due to a complication. If you are concerned about your dog undergoing surgery, you can speak to the vet about any questions you may have.

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