So why is spaying and neutering so expensive?
First of all, and I don't apologize for this fact, you now realize I must make a profit during my sometimes very busy hours at work. Secondly, a dog or cat spay is major abdominal surgery performed under general anesthesia in a locally sterile environment. If it is not done properly, the pet may not survive the procedure or may develop internal adhesions or develop life-threatening infections. I have seen botched surgeries and believe me, they're not a pretty sight! And as can be expected, the pet owner is very unhappy.
Most people cannot fix a ruptured water pipe in the basement. Most people cannot perform major abdominal surgery, removing both ovaries and the uterus from 5-pound cats to 220-pound St. Bernards. Really, the only difference is nobody's pet is going to die if the repair job on the water pipe doesn't go well!
Here's a brief rundown of what we do when a pet needs spaying (ovaries and uterus removed) or neutering (testicles removed).
1. The client calls and we schedule an appointment time and give pre-admission instructions. Later, when the patient is presented at the animal hospital, presurgical and postsurgical instructions are discussed with the pet owner. The pet is placed in a clean cage or pen.
2. Just prior to surgery the pet is examined by the surgeon to be certain the patient is reasonably healthy. Often, blood tests are performed if the patient is older than eight years of age.
3. With the assistance of the veterinary technician, the intravenous followed by the gas anesthetic is administered. An endotracheal tube is inserted into the trachea ("windpipe"). The surgical site must be carefully and precisely cleaned and antiseptic applied.
4. The surgeon opens a sterile surgical pack containing various instruments, and adhering to sterile techniques, completes the procedure while the level of anesthesia is regulated at a safe but effective rate so that the patient perceives no discomfort.
5. The spay procedure entails incising the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and midline abdomen, then through the peritoneum to enter the abdomen. The right and left ovaries are located near the kidneys; their blood supply and ligaments are isolated and ligated to prevent bleeding. The ovaries and broad ligament suspending the uterus are incised free of their attachments and the base of the uterus is located. Here too, blood vessels and surrounding tissue are ligated with surgical suture material and then both ovaries and the uterus are removed. Any intra-abdominal bleeding is identified and corrected. The abdominal lining, muscles, subcutaneous tissue and skin are carefully sutured together again at the end of the procedure.
6. After surgery, the patient is placed on a clean blanket in a clean cage or pen and is monitored as it recovers from anesthesia.
7. Prior to going home, very specific post-operative instructions are given to the owner. The pet is given a bath if necessary prior to being discharged.
8. The cage or pen is cleaned and readied for the next patient.
Some of my expenses (Ed. note: again, 1990 prices) for this service entail little things like telephone service, paying employees for their time, hot water, and laundry. Larger expenses include gas anesthesia, a 4 oz. bottle of Isoflourane costs me $97.00; and sutures, a box of 36 costs me $123.00; and I use 2 to 4 per surgery. I refuse to buy cheap suture material for obvious reasons. My fee for a dog spay is $90.00 and a cat spay is $75.00.[These are 1990 prices... TJD] Neutering is slightly less complicated surgically, however, from the first telephone call to dismissal all the other links in the chain are the same as a spay. According to Veterinary Economics Magazine, the national average for a dog spay is $88.00.