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Published: Mar 14, 2024 11 min read

Spaying or neutering is one of the first procedures recommended by veterinarians to prevent health issues in pets and control the animal population. But when it comes to these common surgeries, pet owners often wonder: Does pet insurance foot the bill?

Unfortunately, even the best pet insurance companies don't cover spay and neuter surgeries. However, you can add a separate preventative care rider that may cover these routine procedures. Read on to learn more.

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Does pet insurance cover spaying and neutering?

Pet insurance covers all sorts of procedures and services, so pet owners are often surprised to learn that spaying and neutering aren't on the list. The reason behind this exclusion is that providers view spaying and neutering as part of your basic responsibilities as a pet owner, like providing food and shelter.

Pet insurance companies offer optional wellness add-ons to pet owners who purchase an accident and illness plan. The best pet wellness plans can reimburse you for the cost to spay or neuter a pet, typically from $150 to $200.

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 cost of the service exceeds the coverage limit.

Wellness plan vs. accident and illness policy

Here’s how a pet wellness plan compares to a standard accident and illness policy.

Wellness plan

Accident and illness policy

  • Reimburses you for your pet’s routine care expenses
  • An annual limit applies
  • Reimburses a fixed dollar amount
  • Limits vary by service/procedure
  • No deductible
  • No waiting period
  • Reimburses you the cost to treat an injury or illness
  • An annual limit applies
  • Reimburses a percentage (70%, 80% or 90%)
  • Per incident caps are rare
  • Deductibles apply
  • Waiting periods range from 2 to 14 days

Pet wellness plan coverage

Wellness plans, sometimes called preventative care plans, help pay for services and procedures that pet insurance won't cover.

  • Vet exam: Full-body checkup including heart and lung exam and an evaluation of the pet's eyes, coat, stance, gait and weight.
  • Vaccinations: Bordetella, rabies, Lyme, canine DHLPP, feline FVRCP, FeLV and titers.
  • Dental cleanings: Dental examinations, pre-anesthetic bloodwork, anesthesia, X-rays, ultrasonic tartar removal and tooth polishing.
  • Spaying or neutering: Pre-surgical exam, bloodwork, anesthesia, removal of reproductive organs.
  • Tests: Blood tests, urinalysis and fecal and heartworm tests.
  • Parasite prevention: Heartworm medication and flea and tick preventative.
  • Deworming: Pills or topical treatments to rid your pet of common parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms.

What pet wellness plans won't cover

Pet wellness plans won't cover grooming services such as baths, hair trims, nail clipping and other elective procedures like anal gland expressions, tail docking or declawing. A handful of plans may cover microchipping, behavioral exams and health certificates but most don't.

Spaying and neutering costs 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, health and veterinary costs in your area.

Larger animals need more anesthesia, for example, while older pets may need a pre-surgical examination to ensure they're healthy enough to be operated on.

First, let's look at the cost of pet insurance with and without a wellness plan. A wellness rider significantly increases the monthly cost of your policy, especially if you own a dog.

Type of pet

Accident and illness plan

Accident and illness plan with wellness







The majority of pet wellness plans reimburse you $150 to $200 for spay and neuter surgeries. You can see in the tables below how far that dollar amount will stretch, depending on where you live.

We gathered price estimates for a pet living in California (one of the most expensive states for pet care) and for one in Oklahoma, one of the more affordable locations.

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Cost of spaying

The cost of spaying a dog or cat can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000 without pet insurance.

Cost of spaying for dogs

Reimbursement amount

Average cost of pet insurance + wellness coverage









Cost of spaying for cats

Reimbursement amount

Average cost of pet insurance + wellness coverage









Cost of neutering

Here you’ll find the cost of neutering a dog or cat with and without wellness coverage, as well as the estimated amount you’ll pay in insurance premiums.

Cost of neutering for dogs

Reimbursement amount

Average cost of pet insurance + wellness coverage









Cost of neutering for cats

Reimbursement amount

Average cost of pet insurance + wellness coverage









Pet insurance that covers spaying and neutering

Lemonade, ASPCA, Wagmo, Many Pets, Prudent Pet, AKC, Pets Best, Embrace, Nationwide and Spot pet insurance sell wellness plans that pay toward spay or neuter procedures.

When you’re shopping for pet insurance, you’ll find that some companies split wellness plans into tiers: low, medium and high coverage. A low-tier wellness plan typically won’t cover spaying and neutering. Medium-tier plans may reimburse you around $150, while the highest coverage option can generally reimburse up to $200.

An important detail to note about wellness coverage is that the limits for spay and neuter procedures are often shared with dental benefits. This means that — in a policy year — you can either file for reimbursement for dental cleanings or for a spay/neuter surgery.

Here's how much you’d pay with different companies for pet insurance with and without wellness (preventive care) coverage.


Cost of pet insurance without a wellness rider

Cost of pet insurance with a wellness rider















If you're interested in comprehensive pet insurance, check out our guide on how to buy pet insurance to get the right coverage.

Can you buy a standalone wellness plan?

Pet owners have the option to purchase a standalone wellness plan if they prefer not to pay for accident and illness coverage. However, the choices for standalone plans are significantly more limited.

Banfield Pet Hospital and Petco offer wellness programs to their customers, while Wagmo Pet Insurance is the only insurer we evaluated that offers an individual wellness plan (as opposed to an add-on).

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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 and improve your pet's overall quality of life.

  • Illness prevention: Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and malignant or cancerous breast tumors in females. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
  • Improved behavior: Neutered males are less likely to roam, mark their territory and display aggressive behavior. Spayed females won't go into heat, avoiding associated behaviors such as restlessness or posturing and unplanned pregnancies.
  • Better life expectancy: On average, neutered male dogs live 14% longer than their intact counterparts, and spayed female dogs live 26% longer. For cats, the lifespan benefits are even more dramatic, with neutered males living 62% longer and spayed female cats living 39% longer. This is because spaying and neutering reduce the risk of certain cancers and diseases and eliminate the risks associated with reproduction.

Population control

Every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are euthanized because there aren’t enough homes for them. Pet population control through spaying and neutering is an animal welfare issue and a critical component of responsible pet ownership and community health.

  • Environmental protection: Stray animals can damage local plants and animals and spread diseases to other pets and humans.
  • Safety: Stray dogs and cats can cause traffic accidents and injuries to the public, especially dogs. Packs of stray dogs risk community safety as they may become uncharacteristically aggressive towards humans.
  • Resource management: Pet overpopulation can strain the resources of animal shelters and rescue organizations, which are often low-cost, non-profit entities relying on donations and volunteers.

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 such as:

  • Uterine infections
  • Breast tumors
  • Testicular cancer
  • Prostate problems

You could also end up caring for an unexpected litter of puppies or have to shoulder costs related to property damage or dog fight injuries from competing males trying to reach an unspayed female.

Is it worth buying a pet insurance policy for spaying and neutering?

If you're only looking into pet insurance to get spay or neuter coverage, remember that these procedures are one-time costs. You probably don't need a pet insurance plan with a wellness rider if you have the funds to cover the surgery out-of-pocket.

However, beyond spaying or neutering, a wellness plan covers:

  • Vaccinations
  • Annual check-ups
  • Parasite screening
  • Parasite prevention
  • Teeth cleanings

These routine care services can easily average $700 to $1,500 a year. With that in mind, a wellness plan priced at $30 a month could be a good deal — depending on what and how much it covers.

Say you pay $360 a year for a wellness plan and your vet charges you $200 for a dental cleaning. If your plan reimburses you $50, you'd still be on the hook for the remaining $150. And that's without accounting for other routine vet bills that may not be fully covered either.

Is pet insurance worth the cost in the above scenario? Probably not, unless your pet needs emergency veterinary care or develops a chronic condition that year. And that's assuming the wellness plan is an add-on to an accident and illness policy that covers services beyond routine care.

Summary of Money’s Does Pet Insurance Cover Spay and Neuter?

Standard pet insurance coverage only pays toward unexpected costs related to accidents and illnesses. However, many pet insurance providers sell wellness riders that can reimburse you for a portion of your pet's routine care costs, including spay and neuter surgery.

These plans can be a useful tool in managing your pet's healthcare needs and keeping those expenses within your budget. But they may not always make financial sense, especially if you're mostly interested in spay or neuter coverage.

Before buying pet health insurance, compare the cost of coverage against the benefits it offers (both annual benefits and coverage limits). Whether pet insurance is worth it will ultimately depend on your finances and the care your pet requires over its lifetime.