does pet insurance cover spaying and neutering?

Photo
puppy recovering from spaying
Posted by Aliya McCullough DVM, MS on Oct 15 2019

Fixed. Spayed. Neutered. No matter what you call it, chances are your veterinarian has recommended the procedure for your family’s newest addition. While pet parents view neutering as a rite of passage in their pet’s lives, veterinarians see it as an important aspect of a pet’s preventive and wellness care.

What do all of these terms mean anyway?

A spay, also known as an ovariohysterectomy, is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. In some cases, just the ovaries are removed (ovariectomy). During a castration, the testicles are removed (orchiectomy).

Why do we neuter our pets?

Spays and castrations have been performed for over a century, primarily as a way to control pet overpopulation.* Since then, additional health benefits have been linked to the procedure. For instance, neutering can prevent certain types of reproductive conditions such as breast and testicular cancers, uterine infections, as well as risky behaviors including roaming.*

Can you get coverage for spaying or neutering?

While veterinarians view spays and neuters as preventive care due to the health benefits they provide, many pet insurance providers consider them to be elective surgeries since they are planned and not medical emergencies. Because this procedure can fall under both elective and preventive care, they are typically not covered by pet insurance.

What about surgical complications? Are those covered?

Some pet insurance providers – like Petplan – cover surgical complications as long as they did not occur prior to the effective date of your pet’s policy or during the waiting periods. Although spays and neuters are very commonly performed surgeries, there is always a risk of complications** such as:

  • ● Seroma (fluid accumulation at the incision site)
  • ● Pain
  • ● Swelling of the incision
  • ● Mild bleeding or hemorrhage
  • ● Dehiscence (opening of the incision)
  • ● Infection

Remember, keeping a pet calm and away from the incision is essential to prevent complications from surgery. It’s wise to talk with your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of spaying and neutering your pet.

We can plan and set aside money for our pet’s neuter and these days, there are more wallet-friendly wellness care options, such as low-cost clinics and veterinary hospitals with wellness plans, but the truth is we can’t plan for everything. Even though a pet insurance policy may not cover preventive or elective care, it can still help with the financial burden should your pet encounter surgical complications.

*American Veterinary Medical Association. https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/spay-neuter.aspx

**Bushby, Philip A. “Preventing and Managing Spay/Neuter Complications (Proceedings).” DVM 360, 2010.