Choosing a pet to join your family is an exciting experience. On the heels (and paws) of important decisions like personality and breed, there are the more mundane, but equally important details to consider — such as pet insurance coverage.
Spaying or neutering is one of the first procedures to consider for a new pet. So you want to ask if your pet insurance covers these services. After all, veterinarians recommend them to prevent health issues and control the pet population.
Read on to learn more about how spaying and neutering fit into the world of pet insurance.
Does pet insurance cover spaying and neutering?
Most pet insurers offer three types of plans: accident and illness, accident-only, and wellness policies. Accident and illness and accident-only plans don’t typically cover preventative care, which spaying and neutering fall under.
But don't be disheartened. While typical accident and illness pet insurance plans might not cover spay and neuter surgeries, most wellness plans pay for all or a portion of these procedures.
Coverage for spaying and neutering through pet wellness plans
Wellness plans, sometimes called preventative care plans, cover routine care procedures, including vaccinations, dental cleanings, and spay and neuter surgeries. Enrolling can help manage your pet's health and your pet care budget.
How wellness coverage works
If you're researching how to buy pet insurance, you'll find two main structures for paying for animal healthcare. Unlike standard pet insurance policies that reimburse up to a certain percentage of a service’s cost after meeting the deductible, wellness plans often reimburse a set amount of coverage for different types of care.
For example, a wellness plan might allocate a specific dollar amount toward the cost of spaying or neutering your pet. Once you've paid for the procedure, you can file a claim and receive reimbursement up to that amount. You don’t pay a deductible, but you're responsible for the difference if the service costs more than the coverage amount.
In addition to set dollar amounts providers offer annually for specific procedures, wellness plans typically cover routine preventative care, such as vaccinations, regular check-ups, and dental cleanings. The aim is to keep your pet healthy and catch any potential issues before they become more serious (and often more expensive to treat).
The benefit of a wellness plan lies in its predictability. This allows you to budget for your pet's health care costs more effectively.
Wellness coverage vs. comprehensive coverage
Wellness coverage and comprehensive plans like accident and illness or accident-only pet insurance serve different purposes but can work together to provide a safety net for your pet's health needs. Comprehensive plans usually cover costs incurred because of accidents and illnesses, including related surgeries and treatments, while wellness plans pay for preventive and routine care.
While comprehensive plans have a deductible, coverage limits, and a reimbursement rate, wellness plans often have only an annual limit on how much the provider will pay for covered services. However, they typically don’t have a deductible.
The cost of spaying and neutering with a wellness plan
The cost of spaying or neutering your pet will vary widely based on several factors, including your pet's size, age and health, and procedure location. These surgeries can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000 without pet insurance.
When you enroll in a wellness plan, you pay a monthly premium in exchange for routine care coverage, including spaying and neutering. The cost will depend on the level of coverage and the provider, but premiums typically range from $10 to $40 per month.
Is it worth buying a pet insurance policy for spaying and neutering?
One of the big questions pet owners often ask themselves is whether it's worth investing in a pet insurance policy just for spaying and neutering. As with many financial decisions, the answer depends on various factors, including your financial situation, your pet's breed and health, and your approach to pet care.
Spaying and neutering are generally one-time costs that you can plan for. If you have the funds to cover these procedures out-of-pocket, you might not see the need for a pet insurance policy. For example, if you can pay $250 for your dog to be neutered, you might prefer that instead of enrolling in an annual wellness plan that will cost you $40 monthly or $480 a year.
However, a wellness plan covers more than just these surgeries. It also includes routine care such as vaccinations, annual check-ups, and dental cleanings, which can add up over time. Many factors, such as your pet’s age and breed, influence how much you’ll spend without a wellness plan. Wellness plans also cover some one-time costs like spaying or neutering and routine expenses. Not to mention, vet care costs are more expensive in certain locations.
This routine care can easily average $700 to $1,500 a year. With that in mind, an average wellness plan priced at $30 a month looks like a good deal. But, again, you have to look at the coverage amounts of the plan.
Even if you paid $360 for the plan for a year, if it only covers $50 for a dental cleaning, but your vet charges $200, you’re still tacking on $150 to your yearly expenditure. So, that $360 may not be your final tally for a year’s worth of routine services.
If you know what services your pet needs each year, you could get estimates from your vet and use that figure to determine if a wellness plan makes sense for you.
Pet insurance is about more than just mitigating costs. It's about ensuring you meet your pet's health needs, regardless of what surprises may come. A comprehensive pet insurance plan, coupled with a wellness plan, can provide peace of mind in knowing that your pet is covered for many scenarios, not just spaying or neutering.
Why spay and neuter your pets?
The decision to spay or neuter your pets is significant, with implications far beyond population control. It involves the health and well-being of your pets, broader societal considerations, and potential cost savings.
The health benefits
Spaying or neutering your pet can prevent a host of health issues. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and malignant or cancerous breast tumors in females. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
These procedures can also result in better behavior from your pets. Neutered males are less likely to roam, mark their territory and display aggressive behavior. While spayed females won't go into heat, avoiding associated behaviors such as restlessness or posturing and unplanned pregnancies.
Spaying and neutering also contribute to a longer and healthier life for your pet. On average, neutered male dogs live 14% longer than their intact counterparts, and spayed female dogs live 26% longer. This is due in part to the reduced risk of being diagnosed with certain cancers and diseases, as well as eliminating the risks associated with reproduction.
For cats, the lifespan benefits are even more dramatic, with neutered males living 62% longer and spayed females living 39% longer.
Every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are euthanized because there aren’t enough homes for them. Spaying and neutering are effective ways to control the pet population and reduce the number of animals in shelters or on the streets.
Beyond the immediate impact on animal welfare, unchecked pet population growth can lead to broader societal and environmental issues. Stray animals can cause traffic accidents, damage local plants and animals and spread diseases to other pets and even humans. Unmanaged pet populations can also strain the resources of animal shelters and rescue organizations, which are often non-profit entities relying on donations and volunteers.
Furthermore, seeing neglected or suffering animals in public spaces can negatively affect the quality of life in communities. Thus, pet population control through spaying and neutering is an animal welfare issue and a critical component of responsible pet ownership and community health.
Remember, each individual can make a difference. By spaying or neutering your pet, you're contributing to a solution that benefits both animals and communities.
Cost savings in the long run
While there's an upfront cost to spaying and neutering, these procedures can save you money in the long run by preventing health problems. The cost of treating uterine infections, breast tumors, testicular cancer, or prostate problems can be significantly higher than the price of preventative spaying or neutering.
Moreover, unneutered pets can lead to unexpected costs. An unneutered dog might impregnate another dog, requiring you to pay and care for a litter of puppies. Having an unspayed female cat can also attract males, potentially leading to fights between competing males and property damage from their scratching.
In the grand scheme of pet ownership, spaying and neutering your pets is a responsible choice that protects their health, controls the pet population, and can save you money in the long run.
How much do spaying and neutering cost without pet insurance?
The cost of spaying or neutering your pet can vary widely based on several factors, including your pet's size, age, breed, and overall health, and the rates of the veterinary clinic performing the procedure.These costs are between $250 to $2,000 per pet on average.
The range's lower end often corresponds to free or low-cost spay/neuter services provided by animal shelters or charitable organizations. Thanks to grants and donations, these groups can frequently provide reduced prices. Costs at a private veterinary clinic — which may offer more individualized treatment and cutting-edge anesthetic or monitoring technology — are normally more expensive..
Spaying females is generally more expensive than neutering males because the spaying surgery is more complex. It requires going into the animal’s abdominal cavity to remove the ovaries and uterus.
Also, the cost of covering cats and dogs in pet insurance aren't always equal. Generally, policies for cats are cheaper than for dogs.
Also, an animal’s size and age influence spaying and neutering prices. A large animal needs more anesthesia, for example, and an older one might need pre-surgical examinations to ensure it’s healthy enough to undergo the operation. So, spaying or neutering a big elderly cat might be more expensive than for a small puppy.
What pet insurance companies cover spaying and neutering?
Spaying and neutering typically aren’t covered by accident and illness or accident-only pet insurance policies since they're routine or preventative care operations. However, many of the best pet insurance companies offer wellness plans that cover these procedures.
Do your homework before selecting a plan, though, as the specifics of what each one covers and the associated fees might differ. Here are a few pet insurance companies that provide wellness plans that include spaying and neutering:
Embrace Pet Insurance offers "Wellness Rewards," an optional preventative care plan that can be added to any insurance policy.
- Coverage: This plan provides coverage for routine care items ranging from typical services such as wellness exam fees, spaying, neutering and vaccinations to less-commonly covered services like training, grooming and chiropractic care.
- Annual Allowance Limit: It offers three annual total allowance limits that cap how much Embrace will cover: $250, $450 or $650. You can change the limit each year when your policy renews.
- Veterinarian Option: You can choose any licensed vet in the U.S., but the plan is only available if you have an Embrace Pet Insurance policy.
Spot Pet Insurance has two preventative care add-ons.
- Cost: Unlike other wellness plan providers that determine wellness premiums based on your location and your pet’s age and breed, Spot’s gold plan is a flat $9.95 per month, and its platinum plan is $24.95 per month.
- Coverage: The Platinum Preventative Care plan covers $150 toward spaying and neutering, whereas the cheaper Gold Preventative Care plan doesn’t. The gold plan does include $100 for dental cleaning, however. With the platinum plan, you have to choose whether you want the $150 to cover spaying and neutering or dental cleanings. Aside from the option to have spaying and neutering, the platinum plan covers everything in the gold plan, like routine vaccinations, deworming and wellness visits, but also blood and urinalysis and flea and heartworm prevention.
- Annual Limit: The gold and platinum plans total $250 and $450 in annual benefits, respectively.
- Veterinarian Options: Spot policies will reimburse services performed by any licensed vet in the U.S. or Canada.
Prudent Pet Insurance offers a comprehensive policy that includes an optional wellness plan covering spaying and neutering.
- Waiting Period: There is a 14-day waiting period from the date you begin your policy before illness coverage begins and a five-day waiting period for accident coverage. If you insure more than one pet, you’ll get a 10% discount on each separate policy.
- Coverage: The wellness plan add-on comes in three tiers: low, medium and high. Each tier specifies how much it will pay towards covered services such as wellness vet visits, vaccinations and deworming. For spaying or neutering, the medium plan will reimburse $40 and the high plan, $60. The low tier doesn’t cover anything toward spaying or neutering.
- Veterinarian Option: The plan allows customers to choose any licensed vet in the U.S. or Canada.
Summary of Money's guide to whether pet insurance covers spay and neuter services
When it comes to answering whether pet insurance covers spay and neuter treatments, the answer is: it depends. Standard pet insurance policies typically only cover unexpected costs related to illnesses and accidents.
However, many pet insurance companies offer wellness plans that pay for spaying and neutering, and other routine care procedures. These plans can be a useful tool in managing your pet's health care needs and keeping your pet care expenses in line with your budget.
As always, carefully research and consider your options when choosing pet insurance. The right coverage for you and your pet will depend on your pet's needs, your financial situation and preferences. With the right plan, you can ensure that your furry family member receives the care they need to lead a healthy, happy life.