Pets are expensive, and sometimes it’s hard to afford even basic veterinary care. Startup care for young or new animals can be a burden, especially spay or neuter surgery, but with the improvements in low cost care that is available in many communities, it’s often not a case of cutting quality or skipping services to decrease costs. Too many people skip these procedures altogether because they’re worried that a low cost program will be too dangerous for their pets.
Eight years ago, when I got my cats spayed and neutered, I was fresh out of my parent’s house and living on $8.00 an hour. Paying for their surgeries through my normal veterinarian was a big financial burden and I had to take a second job to do it. Unfortunately, the low cost programs in my city left a lot to be desired, so that’s what I did. Things have changed a lot since then and despite being in a much better financial situation today, when it came time to get my dogs neutered, I had no qualms about going through any of the low cost programs that have sprung up in my area. I live in the rural south, so if there is a program for me and my pets, there is one for almost everybody.
It is important to build a relationship with a good veterinarian, and routine care is a good time to do that, but spay and neuter surgeries are a once in a lifetime thing. One outpatient procedure will not make or break your relationship with your regular vet. If you’re financially able and you’d prefer to go through your own vet for your pet, that’s perfectly fine, but cost is often a reason that spay or neuter surgeries are put off and people shouldn’t feel like they’re being bad pet parents if they choose to go to a low cost clinic. Spaying and neutering are good for the community as a whole, but they’re also good for our individual pets and making these surgeries more accessible is good for everyone. If you can afford to include a small donation with your surgery costs, you can support a great program and still save hundreds of dollars compared to what most vets will charge. If you can only afford the surgery, you’re still helping prevent pet overpopulation in your community and doing something great for your pet’s health.
Today’s low cost spay/neuter clinics have figured out how to work at a high volume using a model that works for their area, such as a mobile clinic, a dedicated building, or operating as part of a shelter. They stay full and busy consistently and specialize to decrease operating costs and increase efficiency. Their veterinarians and staff only do a few procedures, so they’re able to preform every part of their job quicker and often better than a full service clinic could do it. This allows them to do every operation at just above their costs and maintain their program, as well as minimizing your pet’s time under anesthesia and giving them greater experience with any complications related specifically to spay or neuter surgery.
The facilities I’ve used personally included care I’ve paid extra for in the past at regular vets as part of their standard package, such as a pre-surgery calming shot at check-in, and post-surgical pain medication, and that’s become standard in most clinics because it improves healing and decreases the likelihood of your pet damaging their incision. No one wants their pet to be in pain, and if their incision hurts, your pet will go to greater lengths to get to it. I’ve never needed to use them, but I was provided emergency numbers to call in case I had complications and the treatment of post surgical issues was included in the cost of the surgery. My entire experience, and the experience of my animals, was in every way as good or better than my regular veterinarian’s office. Complimentary procedures such as hernia repair and microchipping are also available at a significantly decreased cost, which makes them more accessible to more people. Vaccination packages are usually available at the time of the surgery, but it’s better to have those done at least two weeks before your appointment if it’s at all possible. It takes awhile for shots to become fully effective and it’s better for your pet to have full immunity to communicable diseases before coming into contact with other animals.
If you need to get your pet spayed or neutered there is probably a program out there for you. Most pet owners know they should get their animals spayed or neutered, but it’s easy to forget how important it is until your pet begins roaming, going into heat, marking, or any of the many other undesirable behaviors associated with being intact. Even if an unplanned litter doesn’t surprise you, these behaviors often end up in pets being rehomed rather than altered. If cost is the reason you’ve been putting it off I urge you to make an appointment and invest in your pet’s health and relationship with you. If you’re not sure what’s the best choice in your area and you can’t find information online your local animal rescue organizations will have any information you need.