Keeping Dogs Overnight


Recently my vet charged me a $200.00 fee to neuter my male dog. And he wants even more to spay my larger female - he says because of the difference in size. I have decided to let my fingers do the walking for a better price and have already made some calls. I have found lower prices, but am having difficulty finding a vet who will let me bring my dog home the same day.

What is the deal with vets who want to keep a Border Collie (or any dog) after a ROUTINE neuter overnight? Why can't I take better care of my dog than someone who will not be there all night? The message to me is "you are such an idoit dog owner that your dog will be better off in a cage unattended all alone all night than at home with you after surgery". Can you explain why vets INSIST on this practice (overnight after routine surgery)?


Lucy..... you got some 'splaining to do.

Well, $200 may be a bit on the high side but isn't out of bounds for surgery, overnight stay, bloodwork, etc. I think you have to do a bit of balancing when it comes to this kind of thing - shopping around for the cheapest spay isn't the way to go. Pick the vet you're comfortable with - mostly in care, lastly in price. You do get what you pay for with the cheapy spays. I wouldn't pack my bags because the charge seems to be a bit high. Ask the vet the reasoning behind the charge. You may be surprised at how they arrived at that number. That said, there are a few crooks out there and one should be careful not to be overcharged too much. It also depends on the market you're in too. A spay in rural Kentucky isn't going to cost the same as downtown Miami. $50 bucks is a real cheap spay here. $100 is normal without an overnight. And when you come right down to it, no vet is going to turn ANY profit doing $55 spays. When you add in the costs of the drugs, overhead, etc. and you pay your receptionist, etc., none of that money really goes into paying the vet's labor. Most do it for this dirt cheap on principle - a spayed dog is better than an unspayed dog. Most neuter stray dogs and cats on their own wallet. $200 bucks is what any reasonable person doing business would charge for such labor. Ask your plumber to come over and "neuter" your toilet or your mechanic to "spay" your car. If it takes them an hour to do it, the bill's going to minimally be $200, exclusive of parts.

And yes, bigger dogs require more drugs and anesthesia, hence the higher costs. Most vets don't distinguish, some do. And females are always more expensive (it's more invasive and there's more "plumbing"). Considering the labor difference between spaying an older female that's gone through several cycles and a male with the simple removal of 2 testicles, the $10 dollar difference most vets charge is remarkably small. Most of the charge is for drugs and anesthesia - very little actually goes to labor costs. If your vet has 6 vet techs helping them, then the costs are going to be a bit higher (and the care might be better).

The reason vets want to keep the dogs overnight is because *most* folks wouldn't know a sick dog if it came up and bit them. Most vets have people that come in overnight a couple of times to check on the dogs, take temperatures, etc. Many people let their dog disappear into the back closet or throw them out into the yard. Since the first 24 hours after surgery are the most critical, most vets like to play it safe and keep the dog overnight. That said, all my dogs and rescues come directly home, as I carefully monitor their progress overnight, all night. Most vets will allow responsible and knowledgeable owners to take their dogs home, both to reduce costs and to facilitate monitoring. Good vets will work with good owners.

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Page last updated April 1, 1997. All material Copyright 2004 Border Collie Rescue, Inc. and Dr. Nicholas B. Carter
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