Should You Get Your Rabbit Spayed or Neutered?

Thinking of getting your rabbit spayed or neutered but not sure what to expect? This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know before, during, and after the procedure to ensure your bunny stays happy and healthy for years to come. From picking the right vet to recovery care tips, we’ll walk you through what to watch for during this important surgery and beyond. Get the scoop on the many benefits of fixing your furry friend—like preventing cancer and improving behavior—as well as busting myths about negative side effects. Whether you’re considering adoption or have a current free-roaming friend, this article provides must-know advice from real-world rabbit owners and vets for giving your rabbit their best life through timely spaying or neutering. Let’s hop to it!

Is surgery safe?

Spaying or neutering a rabbit is generally a very safe procedure when performed by an experienced rabbit-savvy veterinarian. However, like any surgery, there are always risks involved when a rabbit is placed under anesthesia. Some potential risks include adverse reactions to anesthesia, excessive bleeding, infection, and small risk of death. However, most veterinarians report that the risks are quite low, especially when the rabbit is young and healthy. The overall benefits usually far outweigh any small risks.

It's important to find an experienced rabbit veterinarian to perform the surgery – one who is very familiar with the specialized needs of rabbits when it comes to anesthesia dosages, medications, and surgical techniques. Rabbits have unique physiologies that require some alterations from typical dog/cat surgeries. An rabbit-savvy vet will take extra precautions to minimize risks and ensure a smooth surgery and recovery. They will also provide detailed post-op monitoring and care instructions to properly care for your rabbit at home afterwards.

Some extra steps vets may take to reduce risks include: pre-op bloodwork to check organ function, IV fluids during surgery, pain meds, antibiotic injection and doses to go home, and careful anesthesia monitoring. If your vet does not seem knowledgeable about rabbit-specific needs for spay/neuter, it may be worth seeking out a more specialized rabbit vet for the surgery. With proper precautions, most rabbits tolerate the procedure very well and have no complications. The long-term health and behavior benefits of getting them fixed usually makes it more than worth the very small risk. Monitor your rabbit closely in the days following surgery and alert your vet if you notice anything abnormal.

Expected cost

The cost of getting your rabbit spayed or neutered can range quite a bit, but you can typically expect to pay $300-$600. The specific cost depends on several factors:

  • Location – Costs tend to be higher in major metro areas and on the coasts. More rural areas may have lower rates.

  • Vet Experience – Those who are specialized exotic vets or have more experience/higher demand for rabbit surgeries may charge more.

  • Rabbit's Gender – Spaying a female is a more complicated surgery than neutering a male and thus tends to cost more, usually $50-$100 more on average.

  • Rabbit's Age & Health – Operating on an older rabbit or one with health conditions may increase cost due to greater anesthesia risks.

  • Additional Services – Some vets include pre-op bloodwork in the cost, while others charge extra. Things like pain medication, antibiotics, and e-collar may also be add-on costs.

When budgeting for the procedure, make sure to factor in not just the surgery itself but also the exams, consults, and follow-up appointments. Many vets offer discounts if you adopt the rabbit from them. Be sure to inquire about any possible price breaks or financing options to make this important procedure more affordable.

While $500 might seem steep, getting your rabbit spayed or neutered is crucial for their long-term health and typically pays for itself quickly by avoiding expenses later on for treatment of preventable cancers and other conditions. Check for local low-cost clinics that offer discounted services too. With proper post-op care, it’s an investment that leads to years more happy and healthy time with your bunny.

Find a rabbit savvy vet for the surgery

It's extremely important to find an experienced rabbit veterinarian to perform your rabbit's spay or neuter surgery. You want a vet who is very familiar with rabbits' unique medical needs, especially regarding anesthesia and surgical procedures. Key things to look for include:

  • A current vet who sees rabbits regularly – Rabbits should make up a good portion of their caseload. This ensures they have extensive hands-on experience handling rabbits and performing these common surgeries.

  • Offers wellness exams for rabbits – A vet committed to rabbits will want to see them for annual checkups, not just when sick. This allows them to stay updated on your rabbit's health and notice any issues early.

  • Advertises rabbit experience – The website/ads may tout doctors with special rabbit training or call the clinic a "rabbit-only" practice. These are good signs they have the right expertise.

  • Association/certification – You want a vet associated with the House Rabbit Society or certified through the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians. This demonstrates formal education in rabbit medicine.

  • Ask around – Talk to local rabbit rescue groups and other bunny owners to get recommendations of which vets they use and trust with their rabbits. This first-hand experience is invaluable.

  • Do a consultation – Schedule a consultation ahead of booking the surgery to meet the vet, ask about their experience, discuss the procedure, and make sure you feel comfortable.

Take the time to thoroughly research and find the most qualified rabbit vet near you. While spay/neuter surgery is routine, there are some key specialized considerations in anesthetizing and operating on rabbits safely. Finding the right experienced vet helps minimize risks and ensure the best outcome.

Caring for your rabbit before surgery

Preparing your rabbit properly prior to their spay or neuter surgery is important for minimizing risks and setting them up for an easier recovery. Here are some key things to do in caring for your rabbit leading up to their surgery day:

  • Withhold food the night before as directed by your vet. This prevents digestive upset when anesthesia is administered. Provide unlimited hay and water until the cut-off time.

  • Give any medications as directed, such as continuing antibiotics or stopping certain medications that may interfere with anesthesia.

  • Allow no rough play for a few days before surgery to avoid any injuries ahead of time. Keep activity low-key and monitor their health.

  • Check the surgical site and surrounding areas thoroughly for any wounds, mats, infection, etc. Notify your vet of any abnormalities.

  • Give your rabbit a gentle brushing to remove loose hair and debris that could irritate the incision site post-surgery.

  • Make sure your rabbit's housing area is very clean to provide the cleanest environment for them to heal in post-op. Remove any clutter too.

  • Have Critical Care or other soft foods ready at home for after surgery when they may not want to eat crunchy foods immediately. Stock up on preferred vegetables and hay as well.

  • Set up a confined space at home for them to recover where you can closely monitor food intake, litter habits, activity level, etc. A puppy exercise pen works well.

  • Review all post-surgery care instructions from your vet so you're prepared to care for your rabbit. Have medications, wound care supplies, and emergency contacts ready.

  • Give your rabbit extra love and affection before taking them in! This will help keep their stress levels low.

Taking the time to properly prepare your rabbit and their environment makes a big difference in their comfort level and post-surgery recovery rate.

After surgery care

Caring for your rabbit properly in the days following their spay or neuter surgery is vital for their recovery. Monitor your bunny closely and be diligent with these after care steps:

  • Give all post-op medications exactly as directed, such as pain meds and antibiotics. Pain control is very important the first few days.

  • Check their incision 1-2 times daily. Look for redness, swelling, discharge which could indicate infection. Contact your vet if you notice anything concerning around the surgical site.

  • Make sure your rabbit is eating, drinking, pooping, and peeing normally. Track their food intake and litter habits. Appetite should return to normal within 24 hours or less.

  • Provide access to hay immediately after surgery. The fiber will help get their gut moving again. Once eating hay, introduce their normal pellets and veggies gradually.

  • Clean the litter box frequently to keep the area clean and remove urine and feces that could irritate the incision.

  • Avoid baths for at least 2 weeks post-surgery. Just spot clean soiled fur with a damp cloth as needed.

  • Restrict activity level for at least 1 week. No running, jumping or rough play. Confine them if needed. Add toys, chews, dig boxes in their space to prevent boredom.

  • Give anti-inflammatory meds short term to keep swelling in check, prescribed by your vet. An ice pack can also help minimize swelling if vet recommended.

  • Watch closely for any signs of illness and contact your vet if you have any concerns. Signs of trouble include lethargy, hiding, grinding teeth, lack of appetite.

  • Return for any follow up vet exams for suture removal, wound checks, labwork if needed. Follow all discharge instructions carefully.

With proper aftercare, your rabbit should heal well and return to normal within 1-2 weeks. Be vigilant those first couple weeks and don't hesitate to call your vet with any worries.

Observe your rabbit to make sure they are eating

It's extremely important to monitor your rabbit's eating habits closely in the days following their spay or neuter surgery. Making sure they are eating properly helps ensure they are recovering well and prevents potentially serious gastrointestinal issues. Here's what to observe:

  • Appetite – Note when they first show interest in food after surgery. Their appetite should return within 12-24 hours. If not, contact your vet.

  • Hay consumption – Hay is essential for getting their gut motility back to normal after anesthesia. Make sure they are eating some hay within the first 8 hours or so. Restrict pellets and veggies at first.

  • Food intake – Track how much hay, pellets and veggies they are actually consuming each day. Look for amounts returning to their normal levels within 48 hours. Weigh them periodically to ensure they aren't losing weight.

  • Fecal production – Monitor that they are passing normal sized poops regularly. Lack of stool can indicate GI stasis. Diarrhea may mean cecotropes are not re-ingested.

  • Urination – Spaying can temporarily affect urine habits, but make sure they are going regularly. Straining or bloody urine requires immediate vet attention.

  • Chewing motions – Signs of tooth grinding can indicate pain or discomfort preventing eating. This needs veterinary attention.

  • Energy level – Lethargy and lack of interest in food are problematic. They should be up and moving around within 24 hours, trying to eat.

Closely watching all aspects of your rabbit's appetite and food intake after surgery allows you to catch any potential issues early. Don't hesitate to call your vet if concerns arise. Getting them eating again is crucial to recovery.

Caring for your male rabbit after neutering

Caring properly for your male rabbit in the days and weeks after his neuter surgery is important for his health and comfort during recovery. Here are some tips for looking after your bunny post-neutering:

  • Check the incision daily and apply antibiotic ointment if directed. Watch for signs of infection like pus or swelling. Make sure it’s healing properly.

  • Give prescribed pain medication exactly as your vet recommends, especially the first 2-3 days. Monitor for signs of discomfort.

  • Limit activity for at least 1 week. No running, jumping or rough play. Confine him if needed. Add stimuli like chew toys to prevent boredom.

  • Provide soft bedding and litter to avoid irritation of the incision area. Clean the litter box frequently.

  • Give him his favorite foods to encourage eating. The anesthesia may temporarily affect his appetite. Make sure he’s eating adequate hay.

  • Discontinue marking behavior like spraying urine. Hormones take 4-6 weeks to dissipate so this should stop by then.

  • If he was bonded to a female, he can usually remain housed with her. Just monitor for any territorial behaviors temporarily.

  • Note any behavioral changes post-neuter. He may be less active but should not show a dramatic personality shift.

  • Limit stress during recovery. Get him back to his normal routine gradually. Monitor his overall health and well-being closely.

  • Return for a follow up appointment so your vet can check the incision, remove any sutures, and ensure he’s healing as expected.

Follow your vet’s specific post-op instructions carefully and don’t hesitate to call them with any concerns during his recovery period.

Caring for your female rabbit after spaying

Spay surgery is more invasive for female rabbits, so it's important to properly care for your bunny post-op to ensure she recovers comfortably and prevent any complications. Here are some tips:

  • Administer all medications from your vet like pain meds, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. Pain control is crucial the first 72 hours.

  • Check her incision site twice daily the first week for signs of infection like discharge or swelling. Monitor to make sure it's healing well.

  • Limit activity for at least 2 weeks after surgery. No running, jumping or rough play. Confine her if necessary to enforce rest.

  • Provide soft bedding materials and clean litter to prevent irritation of the abdominal incision area.

  • Feed her favorite greens and vegetables to entice eating. Monitor her appetite closely. Lack of eating can cause GI stasis.

  • Watch for decreased fecal production or unusual stool since anesthesia often disrupts their digestion temporarily.

  • Avoid baths for 2 weeks until the incision is fully closed. Just spot clean soiled fur as needed.

  • House her separately from an unneutered male for at least 2 weeks to avoid mating attempts and injuries.

  • Note any behavior changes post-spay. Usually they retain their personality. Aggression may take up to 6 weeks to dissipate.

  • Return for follow up appointment so the vet can monitor healing, check sutures/incision, and make sure she’s recovering well.

Follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions carefully for post-op care. Alert them immediately about any concerns so prompt treatment can be started if complications arise.

Health benefits

Getting your rabbit spayed or neutered provides some very important lifelong health benefits that can add years to their lifespan by preventing certain illnesses and medical conditions. Some key health perks include:

For females:

  • Eliminates risk of uterine cancer – Unspayed rabbits have a very high rate of uterine cancer later in life. Spaying removes this risk.

  • Prevents uterine infections – Open uterus can allow bacterial inflections to develop leading to illness.

  • Stops pseudo-pregnancies – Hormonal fluctuations in unspayed females may mimic pregnancy symptoms. This can be stressful physically.

  • Reduces breast cancer risk – Spaying greatly reduces chances of mammary tumors and breast cancer.

  • Eliminates ovulation discomfort – Swollen, painful ovaries during heat cycles go away after spay.

For males:

  • Prevents testicular cancer – Testicular tumors are common in older unneutered males. Neutering removes this risk.

  • Stops aggression & spraying – Neutering reduces territorial behaviors and urine spraying in over 90% of males.

  • Improves litter habits – Less tendency to spray, more predictable urination.

  • Resolves certain reproductive issues – Conditions like swollen testicles are resolved by neutering.

  • Decreases prostate issues – Neutering can prevent prostatic hyperplasia and abscesses that can form later in intact males.

For both genders, spaying/neutering can also reduce risk of certain hormone-influenced conditions later in life like grease gland tumors and adrenal disease. By getting your rabbit fixed while young and healthy, you help them avoid preventable illnesses as they age.

Advantages for behavior

In addition to health perks, getting your rabbit spayed or neutered provides some very notable lifelong behavioral advantages as well by reducing hormone-driven behaviors.

For female rabbits, the key behavioral benefits of spaying include:

  • Stops territorial urine spraying and aggression
  • Reduces mounting and humping behaviors
  • Prevents almost constant false pregnancies in older rabbits
  • Allows bonding with neutered males without mating or fighting
  • Lets them live happily with another spayed female without dominance issues

For males, advantages of neutering include:

  • Eliminates 90% of urine spraying in the home
  • Reduces aggression and territorial behaviors
  • Prevents sexual mounting of people and objects
  • Allows bonding with spayed females without constant mating attempts
  • Lets them be happily paired with another neutered male companion

The more stable hormone levels after spay/neuter make rabbits easier to litter train, less destructive, and more sociable. Bonded pairs co-exist much more harmoniously after fixing. You get to enjoy their fun, playful side rather than hormonal behaviors. It’s a win-win for both rabbit and owner!

Are there any negative side effects?

There are a few myths and misconceptions about potential negative side effects of spaying or neutering rabbits. However, no major studies have shown any proven drawbacks when the surgery is performed properly. Some unproven concerns include:

  • Weight gain – Metabolism and dietary needs don't typically change after fixing. Weight issues usually stem from overfeeding rather than the procedure.

  • Personality changes – Rabbits exhibit hormone-driven behaviors when intact that go away after spay/neuter, but their core personality remains the same.

  • Increased cancer risk – In fact, fixing them reduces cancer risk overall by removing reproductive organs prone to tumors later in life.

  • Reduced lifespan – Spaying and neutering rabbits has actually been shown to increase average lifespan by eliminating reproductive cancers.

  • Lowered immunity – There are no deficits to their immune system shown to be caused by sterilization procedures.

  • Increased inclination to bite or scratch – These behaviors are not tied to spay/neuter. They usually relate more to boredom, lack of handling, or discomfort.

  • Laziness – While activity levels may decrease a bit, rabbits should not become suddenly lethargic or disinterested in play. Spay/neuter allows them to better enjoy their down time without restless hormonal urges.

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