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good lord what other 'options 'are there? You should always employ a fully trained and qualified vet to do any treatment of your dog.
 

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can't you get it done at a petsmart or something?
Even then the person performing the surgery will be a fully trained and qualified vet. We dont have petsmart here but I know of such places and they are bound by the same laws as a vets when doing any treatment.

Of course there are differences in price between a very chic private vet and one in a chain store setting. Then there are specialist vets and general paractice ones but always a qualified vet..
 

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I'm assuming you mean having your dog spayed by your regular vet versus a low-cost clinic run by a shelter or the like? It depends. I used to work for a spay/neuter clinic a (long) time ago, and it was pretty bare bones in terms of services offered. For a high-risk dog (older, health conditions, etc.), you would want a more fully equipped hospital.

Also, some clinics that are attached to shelters may have income requirements, and only serve people who meet them.
 

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can't you get it done at a petsmart or something?
Some Petsmart stores have vet clinics, but not all of them. Even so, I've not heard that the Banfield clinics are any cheaper than a free-standing, independent hospital.
 

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Low cost clinics can be a great option, and are going to be run by trained vets (frequently these vets are actually volunteering their time and what you do have to pay goes towards covering medication and equipment). They are definitely bare-bones, no frills operations though.

At a vet clinic, the 'extras' you may get are:
  • Pre-op bloodwork to ensure your dog doesn't have any underlying issues that might cause problems with the anesthetic or healing process
  • The operation done in a fully staffed and stocked vet clinic, so they can focus more time on your pet specifically and have more resources if something does go wrong (in low cost clinics they're often getting through dozens of pets in relatively short order)
  • The option of keeping your pet overnight if there's any concerns, so they can be watched by trained veterinary staff (not all vets have staff on 24/7 so this is dependent on the specific practice)
  • May (should, imo) include pain medication to give your dog during the healing process (some low cost clinics may include this too, I'm not sure)
  • Often will include follow-up visits if you have questions or concerns about the healing process, or if there's more serious issues that come up related to the surgery
  • A relationship with a vet who knows more details about you and your pets and so can better serve your family down the road
Many of these extras are very good things, of course, but a routine surgery like a spay/neuter is also very low-risk. Personally, if it's in my budget I will choose a vet clinic, but I also think most low cost clinics and the like provide excellent service if money is tight.

Not sure if many - if any - speuter clinics are running right now though, given the pandemic. Even many vets are putting off non-emergency surgeries like speuter (spay/neuter) to reduce the exposure to the staff.
 

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Depends on the age of the pup and the breed. Complications can arise with young small breed pups.

Frankly, I wouldn't have too much faith outside of a Vet. Can the clinic handle complications?

Think about this. If you need major surgery, would you rather have a Physician or a Physician's Assistant perform the major surgery?
 

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@bigdave117 That has to be up to you. I don't know your finances, or even what the cost difference would be in your area. I don't know what your local vets offer in their standard spay/neuter packages either - it could be all of the list I mentioned, some of it, or include things I hadn't thought of. You'd have to find that out by calling around and asking.

A spay is a more invasive surgery than a neuter (they have to go into the abdomen, rather than simply cutting into the scrotum), which may impact your decision as well.

@Knute I think it's more like the difference between getting something done in a regular hospital vs. a field hospital. My understanding is that only licensed vets can perform veterinary surgery (at least in the US), so it'll still be a fully accredited vet doing the operations at a clinic, just under different circumstances with more limited time and resources because they tend to be high-volume affairs.
 

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Depends on the age of the pup and the breed. Complications can arise with young small breed pups.

Frankly, I wouldn't have too much faith outside of a Vet. Can the clinic handle complications?

Think about this. If you need major surgery, would you rather have a Physician or a Physician's Assistant perform the major surgery?
Veterinarians are the ones who perform the surgeries. (That's kind of the law....) Frequently, they will have their own hospitals, but donate their services to local low cost clinics. Sometimes the work exclusively for the shelter. And it's not that the vet techs who assist at low cost clinics lack training, either. It's more along the lines of low cost clinics not offering as many add-on services and/or just not having stuff like the machines to do bloodwork and the like.
 

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One thing that's worth mentioning is that you want to establish a relationship with the vet you intend to use. Seeing your regular vet for routine things like vaccinations and spay/neuter can make things easier if your dog develops a health condition or has an emergency, for a few reasons. First of all, they know the dog's baseline normal, and the dog is used to them, making it easier to diagnose and treat the dog. Secondly, you may get more flexibility about things like payments and appointments in the event of an emergency or otherwise difficult situation if you're already a known good client. (It's not a guarantee of this, but if you're NOT a known good client, it's pretty much a guarantee you WON'T get this consideration.) Imagine it's 5:30 on a Tuesday and you don't get paid until Friday and your pup just ate something potentially poisonous...you really want your vet to be willing to see you right away even though the clinic is closing up and you might not be able to fully pay on the spot.

My boy is super low risk but I'm having my regular vet snip him (after this Covid-19 stuff cools off) even though it's more expensive than the low-cost spay/neuter clinic. I like having it done at the actual vet hospital, for one thing, just in case there is a complication, and for another, I feel like my vet has been there for tough times with previous dogs so it makes sense to use him for easy times with current dogs.
 

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Totally an aside, but:

If you need major surgery, would you rather have a Physician or a Physician's Assistant perform the major surgery?
I get your drift, but in my particular town we have one PA and one MD, and the PA is awesome. Most people go to him for most stuff you don't need MD credentials for. He actually did a surgical procedure on me a few years ago, lol.

I think one advantage to the vets and vet techs who do low-cost spay/neuter clinics is that due to the nature of the gig they gain a ton of experience at it. Generally speaking, the faster the surgery the better - less risk of infection or anesthesia complications. I suppose the best of both worlds would be to get a vet who volunteers at low-cost clinics, but have him/her do your surgery at his/her actual vet clinic/hospital.
 

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We get a lot of questions on this forum along the lines of, "I had my dog spayed/neutered a week ago. Do you think the incision looks infected? " And the correct answer is, "You should follow up with your vet." That's a whole lot easier if your vet is the one who did the surgery to begin with
 
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