Does pet insurance cover desexing?

19 December 2017
There is no doubt Australians love pets, having one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. But there’s a dark side to this obsession – the accidental and over breeding of cats and dogs.

You will generally have the option to select desexing cover under an accident, illness and routine care pet insurance policy. This could give you peace of mind in the event that your pet needs to be desexed, which is very common and even encouraged in Australia.

Not getting pets desexed results in shelters Australia-wide overflowing with dogs and cats that have no “furever” homes. It is estimated that around 250,000 pets are euthanized every year in Australia. With around 80% of dogs and nearly all cats arriving at shelters not desexed, the veterinary industry declared July as the National Desexing Month. During the month of July, vet clinics in Australia tend to discount the costs of desexing and associated services like microchipping.

Pet insurance policies with desexing cover

The table below displays a snapshot of accident, illness and routine care pet insurance policies on Canstar’s database with links to providers’ websites, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest). These results are based on cover for a 2-3 year old medium sized dog.

Benefits of having your pet desexed

In addition to the benefit of reducing the number of unwanted cats and dogs in shelters, desexing also helps improve the behaviour and health of cats and dogs, helping to reduce the risk of cancer and behaviours such as spraying.

While animals can be desexed at any age, RSPCA’s Chief Veterinarian Magdoline Awad said it’s better to act sooner rather than later, especially when it comes to cats.

“Cats are prolific breeders and desexing prevents thousands of unwanted kittens entering shelters each year,” she said.

“Research has shown over half of all kittens entering shelters are the result of owned cats breeding so campaigns such as the National Desexing Month are vital.”

There are also other benefits to desexing. Research shows desexed animals often live longer and are less likely to suffer from various diseases, including cancer. Behaviour-wise, desexed pets are less likely to wander and get lost or fight and suffer an injury.  Undesirable sexual behaviours like mounting and spraying urine are also reduced.

From a purely practical point of view, desexed animals cost less to register with your local council. And if you want to go away for a holiday, you will have trouble finding a kennel or cattery that will take a non-desexed animal. You will also find doggy daycare centres often refuse non-desexed dogs. Socialising at doggy parks can also be difficult with a non-desexed dog.

Pet insurance

Desexing your pet: Some myths busted

1. “It’s healthy for females to have at least one litter.”

This is incorrect – in fact, veterinary evidence suggests that breeding your female dog or cat is more likely to cause her harm! An un-spayed female is much more susceptible to cancers or diseases of the reproductive organs, not to mention problems with the birth itself, which can often be problematic and may require extensive surgery.

2. “My pets’ personality will change/they’ll become overweight and lazy.”

If your pets’ personality does change in any way, it is generally for the better. They can become calmer, easier to train and will not suffer the frustration of constantly wanting to mate. As for the weight myth – no one gets fat without eating too much of the wrong foods or exercising too little. The same applies to our pets. If you feed your pet an appropriate amount of quality food and give them regular exercise, they are less likely to gain weight.

3. “I have a male pet, so I don’t need to neuter him.”

It might surprise you to know that the majority of dogs who end up at Australian shelters are intact (un-neutered) males. An intact male can get incredibly frustrated when the need to mate hits him, either resulting in him escaping or developing behavioural issues, such as mounting to show dominance. Furthermore, neutering your male pet eliminates the possibility of him getting testicular cancer or prostate disease.

4. “It’s not natural.”

Dogs and cats are domesticated species – most of their ‘natural’ instincts went out the door when the grey wolf decided to hunt alongside humans all those years ago. What isn’t natural for a dog or cat is to prevent them from breeding when all their instincts are telling them they must. Desexing may eliminate this frustration.

5. “It’s too expensive.”

Spread out over the course of an animal’s life, the cost of spaying or neutering your pet is minimal. Besides, feeding and caring for litters of puppies and kittens – including giving them vaccinations, worming and flea treatments, etc. – can be far more expensive by comparison.

Depending on the level of cover you have, pet insurance can potentially help with the cost of desexing; some policies will include a small amount of cover towards the cost of an operation.

As a pet owner or a potential pet owner, it’s up to you to make an informed decision about your animal’s health and happiness. It’s worth comparing your options and having a chat with your local vet.

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