Spaying / Neutering procedures in rabbits are very important. According to House Rabbits Society, fixed rabbits live a longer and healthier life. So if you have any hesitation regarding this, don’t think twice.
You are doing a great favor to your bunny by taking him/her to vet who will perform spaying/neutering procedure.
Is there anything you should be doing before the procedure, do you need to prepare your bunny for the surgery? How does the surgery look like? How does the recovery period look like? How to take care of your spayed/neutered bunny? How long does it take for your bunny to get back on track?
If you would like to know the answers to these but also to many other questions related to rabbits fixing procedures keep reading our article.
Spaying/neutering procedures influence on rabbit’s behavior, especially the one related to sex-hormones. If you want to learn more about behavioral changes that will appear after your rabbits have been spayed /neutered please read our article ” Will My Bunny Change After Being Spayed/ Neutered?”
When Is The Right Time For Spaying/ Neutering Procedures?
If you have a male bunny – the right moment is when he is about 4 months old and if your bunny is a girl then the perfect moment for spaying procedure is when she turns 5 or 6 months. The exceptions are giant breeds that become sexually mature later so the right time for fixing is when they are 6-9 months old.
Of course, you can perform this procedure on older rabbits as well. It shouldn’t be too old, simply because younger and healthier body can handle the surgery better.
Spaying / Neutering procedures are one of the reasons many rabbit’s owners and experts will advise you to adopt the bunny from the shelter rather than to buy one in a pet shop. Bunnies that come from shelters are already fixed, potty trained and therefore easier to take care of.
What Is The First Step If You Have Decided To Spay/Neuter Your Rabbit?
The very first step is to find a reliable vet. As you may assume vet is crucial for the positive outcome of the surgery.
Finding good and knowledgeable could be tricky as most of the vets are dealing with cats and dogs while rabbits are not their field of expertise.
You should look for the vet that is specialized in exotic animals such as ferrets, rodents, reptiles, birds…
The House Rabbits Society has a great vet’s list on the website that could be very helpful. Just pick the state/city and you will be able to find several vet options.
You can also contact your local rabbit shelter or rescue service as those guys are in contact with vets on a daily basis so I am sure they can recommend you a good vet.
After you have found a vet, do make an appointment, and don’t be shame to ask everything you want to know.
You should ask:
- if they provide take-home pain medications. If they don’t, look for another vet.
- about how many spaying /neutering procedures perform on a weekly basis
- about their success rate. Even though fixing procedures are low-risk surgeries still bad things can happen. Ask them about the number of rabbits that died during these procedures. Don’t worry if they have some number but it should be very low.
- about the preparation for the surgery and after-surgical procedures. Some vets require your rabbit to stay in the hospital the night after the surgery, some others don’t.
- In case you have run into the vet who wants to observe closely your pet during the night, ask if you need to bring your extra pellets, veggies, hay, water, etc. It is advisable to bring the bunny in a carrier that could serve as a litter box, as well as some clean towels and blankets to keep him/her warm.
- about possible complications after the procedure as well as what to do if that happens. Do they have some emergency service or ask them to recommend an emergency service. It is always good to have a backup plan.
- the price of the procedure. Neutering procedures costs from 50-200$ and spaying are a bit more expensive and costs around 60-300$.In most cases, the price depends on the location of the vet. Spaying surgery is more invasive and complicated so, therefore, more expensive.
You can expect your rabbit’s vet to perform the complete check-up before he/she gives green light for surgery. It is important to determine if the heart and lungs as well as other vital organs work well.
How Does Pre-Surgical Care Look Like?
Once you make a surgery appointment you might get information that your rabbits should withhold the food. Maybe some member of the clinical staff gives you such info but be aware that he/she knows very little about rabbits.
Although fasting before surgery is quite normal and recommended for dogs or cats ( and humans as well) but for rabbits, this is simply not necessary nor advisable.
The reason why do vets require fasting before surgery in the case of dogs or cats is the possibility of vomiting. Some anesthetics can cause nausea which can lead to vomiting. The good thing is that rabbits don’t have vomit reflex, they are not even capable of regurgitation.
On the other hand rabbit’s digestive tract shouldn’t be ever empty. The rabbit that doesn’t get enough food and keeps his gut empty starts to suffer from liver damage.
Bottom line- don’t starve your bunny before surgery. Feed him/her regularly with fresh veggies and lots of quality hay, keep him/her hydrated.
If your bunny is especially attached to some other bunny, you should bring his/her cage mate with you in the hospital. The other bunny could give moral support to your pet that is going to surgery.
Another reason is to prevent rejection once you get back to your home. If your bunny returns to its cage with strange ”hospital” smell, his cage mate could reject him. That would be rather sad. Imagine your furry friend in pain after surgery, returns to his friend who doesn’t recognize him and rejects his company. Sad, isn’t it?
If you have more bunnies living together, bring them all to the hospital with the rabbit that goes for surgery.
When you decide on the date/day of the surgery, make sure you don’t have to go to school or work the day after. Your bunny needs you at least 24-48 hours after surgery.
How Does Spaying/Neutering Surgery Look Like?
Neutering procedure is a surgery during which the vet removes testicles in male rabbits.
Spaying procedure is more invasive surgery than neutering during which the vet removes ovaries in female rabbits.
Both procedures are performed under general anesthetic and rarely carry complications. Rabbits usually have a few stitches and recover totally after 1-2 weeks. Females need more time to recover due to the fact that spaying procedure is more invasive and complicated.
How Does Post – Operative Care Look Like?
Before surgery, think about the recovery area. No matter you have free roam bunny or your rabbits live in the hutch with other mates, you should set up a recovery area near you. Maybe the best option is to set it up in the corner of your bedroom so you can monitor your rabbit during the night after the surgery.
In that recovery area, you should put a litter box but pay attention – litter box should have a low front. If you put a regular litter box, your bunny could open its incision by trying to jump over the high sided litter box.
Put other necessary items, food and water bowl, some toys and chewing items. If your pet has some favorite toy, don’t forget to put it in the recovery area.
Provide blanket and ( or ) bed to keep him/her warm.
Enclose the area with X-pen but leaving smaller space than usual to prevent your bunny from doing extra exercise and movement. The excessive movement could rip the incision and cause the bleeding.
You should comfort your bunny but also give him/her enough space.
Make sure you administer all prescribed medications!
Bear in mind that your bunny needs to start eating right after surgery.
Your bunny will be groggy and rather sleepy in the hours after surgery. He won’t have much appetite at first so you might need to hand feed him. If he is not eating or using the litter box in the first 8-12 hours after leaving the hospital, contact the vet immediately.
Keep checking the stool from time to time. If the droppings look differently or you notice diarrhea call the vet right away.
Keep checking the incision and stitches at least twice a day. Pay attention if your bunny nipping the stitches. Also if you notice swelling or redness around the incision, contact your vet asap.
Most of the rabbits tend to lick their stitches and that is quite normal but you should be careful that your bunny doesn’t pull them out. Consult your vet about your rabbit wearing a cone. It is not obligatory nor necessary for all rabbit but some of them might need one.
Bear in mind that females need more time to recover than males. Spaying is a more invasive procedure than neutering. Males could be partly recovered and back on their feet as soon as you come home from the hospital. Of course, you still have to pay attention as your boy is not totally recovered, he just has more energy than female after being fixed.
Rabbits that have been fixed need less food than usual ( but still need food, don’t forget that) that is why it is important to reduce dry food, ensure enough hay and prevent your rabbit to gain some weight during this recovery period.
Spaying/Neutering procedure is a highly recommended and useful surgery for your rabbit. The most important thing is to find a reliable vet who can perform this kind of surgery with success.
I am not a vet but I tried to gather all relevant information related to this topic. I hope you find this article useful and that maybe I have raised and answered some questions you have never think about. Of course please ask your rabbit’s vet everything you need to know. He/ she is your best friend when it comes to your pet.