Most pet insurance companies do not cover the cost of spaying or neutering your pets. However, some pet insurance companies offer wellness plans to add to your insurance policy, which might help cover all or some of the costs of surgery for spaying and neutering.
Most pet parents will agree that having a furry friend — most commonly a cat or a dog — enriches their lives in a myriad of ways. Not only are they companionable, fun, and (hopefully) sweet, but they’re also adorable. In addition, they’re proven to be beneficial to our health and well-being.
Unfortunately, they’re also expensive to keep. Food, toys, and treats will set you back a bit, but it’s the vet bills that really put a dent in your wallet. Basic maintenance alone is pricey. At a minimum, you need monthly and yearly preventative care, but what if your dog or cat gets sick or injured? Major medical expenses can rack up your vet bills very quickly, so it might make sense to find a pet insurance company to help you manage those bills. But does pet insurance cover spay or neuter costs?
In this article, we’ll discuss what pet insurance covers, what it doesn’t, and why it’s important to get your pet spayed or neutered despite the extra cost.
How pet insurance works
Pet insurance is much like the medical coverage humans use. It’s designed to help owners offset some of the veterinary expenses incurred by their pets. You’ll pay a monthly premium (or sometimes annual) in exchange for the pet insurance policy. There is often a deductible as well, which can vary depending on what premium option you choose.
Once you’ve met your deductible, your pet insurance will reimburse you for all or some of your veterinary costs. What expenses are covered depends on your specific pet insurance, so be sure to check your policy. Normally, after veterinary service, you submit your bill, file a claim, and pet insurance providers offer reimbursement by check or direct deposit to your account. In certain cases, some pet insurance companies may pay your veterinarian’s office directly.
Typically, most pet insurance policies only cover cats and dogs, but there are some that will also cover birds or other exotic animals. You can even get pet insurance for horses, which are obviously more expensive to keep than cats and dogs.
Why doesn’t pet insurance cover spaying and neutering?
Why are spaying and neutering so important?
Vets and most pet owners know that spaying and neutering is the responsible thing to do to help avoid pet overpopulation. Unwanted pets mean overcrowded shelters, and overcrowded shelters lead to more pets being euthanized each day. In fact, nearly one million dogs and cats are “put to sleep” every year, according to the ASPCA.
Far and away, the biggest reason for this problem is people not spaying and neutering their pets. This results in a ton of stray animals in need of a home, with too few homes that want to, or can afford, take them in.
The health benefits of spaying and neutering
Aside from the large number of unwanted pets, spaying and neutering are also important to prevent your pet from having other health issues. For example, neutering male dogs prevents them from getting testicular cancer or prostate issues, among other things. Female dogs that are left unspayed often suffer from uterine infections and breast tumors.
Furthermore, studies have shown that both male and female pets that have been spayed and neutered live much longer than unaltered pets. A study by the University of Georgia, based on the medical records of more than 70,000 animal patients, found that the life expectancy of neutered male dogs was 13.8% longer and that of spayed female dogs was 26.3% longer. The average age of death of intact dogs was 7.9 years versus a significantly older 9.4 years for altered dogs.
Another study conducted by Banfield Pet Hospitals used a database of 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats. That study showed similar findings, concluding that neutered male dogs lived 18% longer and spayed female dogs lived 23% longer. The study also found that sterilized female cats in the study lived 39% longer than unaltered female cats, and sterilized male cats lived 62% longer.
The exact reasons why reproductively altered pets live considerably longer than their unaltered counterparts are long and complicated. Some of the reasons are specifically health-related, but behavioral issues can also be a factor. But the bottom line is, whether your pet insurance policy covers it or not, please spay and neuter your furry friends.
How to pay for spay and neuter surgeries
If you haven’t gotten your pet spayed or neutered because of the associated costs, there are fortunately several affordable solutions. For instance, ASPCA offers low-cost surgeries at many of their centers nationwide, as do many humane societies and local shelters. Alternatively, PetSmart provides an online database where you can search for local centers offering such services.
If you prefer to take your pet to a private veterinarian office, be prepared to pay around $400 for such a procedure. While that amount may be higher than some prefer, it’s certainly cheaper than the cost of an unwanted pregnancy and future puppy or kitten care.
If you need help paying for a spaying or neutering, you may want to consider getting a small personal loan. The below lenders offer both small and large personal loans so you can help your furry friend.
Types of pet insurance plans
There are essentially two types of pet insurance coverage: accident and illness plans (also known as comprehensive plans) and wellness plans (sometimes called preventative care plans).
There are some variations between the different pet insurers, the policies they have, and what they cover. Most pet insurance companies offer the policies separately, or you can combine them for the most comprehensive coverage for your animal.
- Wellness plans. Basically, a wellness plan covers preventative and routine care such as annual vaccinations, monthly flea and tick prevention, heartworm medication, and a yearly exam just to ensure your cat or dog is in good health. If your pet insurance does cover spaying and neutering, it would most likely be included under a wellness plan.
- Accident and illness plans. Accident and illness plans may cover some chronic or hereditary conditions in addition to accidents like a torn ACL or routine illnesses such as ear infections. However, this plan will likely not cover any pre-existing conditions, and this policy also won’t cover spaying and neutering.
What does pet insurance cover
As mentioned before, covered expenses vary depending on the pet insurance plan you carry. That being said, there are some costs that most, if not all, plans cover. Here is a list of some common pet health expenditures that may be eligible for partial or total reimbursement, depending on your policy.
- Accidents and injuries: Sprains, poisoning, or ACL ruptures
- Common illnesses: Vomiting, diarrhea, and ear infections
- Serious sicknesses: Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease
- Chronic illnesses: Allergies, arthritis, and skin conditions
- Hereditary conditions: Hip dysplasia and eye and blood disorders
- Procedures: Surgeries, chemotherapy, and endoscopies
- Diagnostics: X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and blood tests
- Alternative treatments: Acupuncture, chiropractic, and laser therapy
- Wellness: Vaccinations, prescription medications (like heartworm preventative or flea and tick treatments), office visits, and other routine care
How to get pet insurance
Most pet insurance providers offer online applications that you can conveniently fill out from the comfort of your home. These forms ask you to list the age and sex of your pet, its breed, and possibly a brief medical history. You will also need to reveal your location, as plan prices vary by region. In some cases, you may also need to go in for a preliminary vet screening appointment before you’re accepted into the plan.
Keep in mind that some pre-existing conditions may not be covered. Also, depending on your pet’s health and history, some insurers may deny coverage altogether, or your eligible coverage may be limited and/or very expensive. In some cases, you may only be eligible for a wellness plan.
Whether you decide to get an accident and illness plan, a wellness plan, or both, be sure to get multiple quotes from a variety of pet insurance providers. You’ll also need to carefully read the fine print of each policy before making a decision so you know exactly what will and won’t be covered by the plan.
Does pet insurance cover grooming?
Most pet insurers do not cover any kind of grooming, even something as simple as toenail trimming. You could check with you pet insurance provider about covering nail clipping, but it’s unlikely your pet insurance will cover any kind of baths or other grooming.
Does pet insurance cover surgery?
As discussed, a lot of pet insurance coverage will not cover spaying and neutering, but it may pay for other surgeries your pet needs.
For example, medically necessary surgeries to save your pet’s life are usually covered, and surgeries needed as a result of an accident are typically covered as well. Some preventative care surgeries, like spaying or neutering, are often not covered by insurance, especially if they are not deemed necessary for survival.
Does pet insurance cover dental work?
While pet insurance doesn’t typically cover dental work or teeth cleanings, some insurance providers do carry some dental coverage as part of their comprehensive or preventative care plans. If dental insurance is covered, you may have to meet certain stipulations in order to be covered, such as committing to regular cleanings.
Can I get pet insurance before going to the vet?
You can purchase pet insurance before going to the vet, but you may not be able to take advantage of it until you stop in for an initial veterinary screening. You also may have a waiting period of up to a few weeks before the coverage kicks in. Both of these contingencies are to ensure that pet parents don’t purchase pet insurance policies after their animal is already sick or injured.
- Pet insurance often doesn’t cover spaying and neutering surgeries. However, depending on your plan, it may cover other life-saving surgeries.
- If your pet insurance policy does cover some of the costs of spay or neuter surgery, it’s likely part of a preventative care or wellness plan.
- Coverage and costs for pet insurance plans vary greatly. Be sure to research exactly what the plans will and will not cover before deciding on a plan.
- You could be denied coverage altogether because of pre-existing conditions or other issues with your pet’s medical history and overall health.
View Article Sources
- Why you should spay/neuter your pet — The Humane Society of the United States
- Pet Statistics — American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Reproductive Capability Is Associated with Lifespan and Cause of Death in Companion Dogs — PLOS ONE
- Top 20 High Paying Jobs in America — SuperMoney
- How Much Do Veterinarians Make? — SuperMoney
- Salary Series: How much of your salary is really yours? — SuperMoney
- Dealing With Veterinary Bills – Quick Loan Options — SuperMoney
- How to Get Approved for a Personal Loan — SuperMoney