Rabbit Neutering

It is beneficial to both owner and the pet to consider neutering. The largest reason for neutering rabbits is population control however there are also many other health and behavioural benefits to neutering rabbits.

Why do we neuter (spey) female rabbits?

Early spaying is beneficial for three main reasons; it helps to prevent malignant cancers of the womb (the risk is around 40-60% and once found it is too late, it will have already spread), it calms down some rabbits as their hormones tend to make them very territorial, aggressive, bullying and antisocial, and to prevent unplanned pregnancies. We spey rabbits from 4 months of age.

What is involved in the operation?

The spaying operation involves the administration of a general anaesthetic and removal of the womb and ovaries from the abdomen. Your rabbit will be admitted first thing on a weekday morning, a pre-operative check is often required to make sure your rabbit is ready for the operation.

The operation will take place, monitoring your rabbit closely during the procedure and on recovery from the anaesthetic. She will be sent home with some pain relief medication as standard – this is to keep her comfortable over the following days and aid recovery.

Neutering is an ideal time to microchip your rabbit whilst she is asleep. We have stray rabbits brought in from time to time, but have so far failed to find their original owners. If they had been chipped, we would have few problems finding them. To learn more about mircochipping, please click “here”.

What nursing care will be required?

On the evening of the operation she will probably still be a little quiet, but should be back to her usual self the following morning. It is best to keep her warm and indoors overnight. Anaesthetics can slow down gut movements, so it is important that your rabbit eats, drinks and passes pellets/poo within 12-24 hours of the operation. If she doesn’t, it is important you bring her back to the surgery to avoid “gut stasis”.

Her exercise should be limited to gentle moving around- so the wound heals uneventfully. However she must move to keep her guts functioning. Therefore we ask all post-spey patients are not exercised in large areas within the 7 days post-op. It is important that she doesn’t continually lick and disturb the wound as this can inhibit healing.

We will ask you to bring her back for a post-operative check, usually with a nurse, 3-5 days after the operation, to check how the wound is healing. If there are visible stitches, these need removing by the nurse 10-14 days post-op. Often we hide all the stitches underneath and use a little tissue glue on the skin– you will be advised which sutures have been used in your rabbit at discharge.

Neutering reduces a rabbit’s metabolic rate, and therefore they can gain weight easily after spaying. Therefore it is important to monitor her weight closely and adjust  feeding to what she really needs. Usually if they are on the correct grass/hay diet and have plenty of exercise, a final adjustment to the amount of vegetables fed is all that is needed.

Why do we neuter (castrate) male rabbits?

We castrate rabbits from 4 months of age. Early castration helps to prevent aggression between male rabbits which can result in severe injuries or fatalities, and prevent ‘antisocial’ behaviour such as spraying urine or circling the rabbit/person they like.  It also prevents testicular tumours, may reduce prostate problems, and prevents unwanted pregnancies.  Remember rabbits are not sterile from day one, and potentially can be fertile for several weeks after castration.

What is involved in the operation?

The castration operation involves the administration of a general anaesthetic and removal of the testicles from the scrotum through a small incision/s.

Your rabbit will be admitted first thing on weekday morning, a pre-operative check is often required to make sure your rabbit is ready for the operation.

The operation will take place, monitoring your rabbit closely during the procedure and on recovery from the anaesthetic. He will be sent home with some pain relief medication as standard – this is to keep him comfortable over the following days and aid recovery.

Neutering is an ideal time to microchip your rabbit whilst he is asleep. To learn more about microchipping, please click “here”.

What nursing care will be required?

On the evening of the operation he will probably still be a bit sleepy but should be back to his usual self the following morning. It is best to keep him warm and indoors overnight. Anaesthetics can slow down gut movements , therefore it is  important that your rabbit eats, drinks and passes pellets/poo within 12-24 hours of the operation. If he doesn’t, it is important you bring him back to the surgery to avoid “gut stasis”.

It is important that his exercise is limited. Therefore we ask all post-castration patients are not exercised in large areas within the 7 days following the operations. It is also important that he doesn’t continually lick and disturb the wound as this can inhibit healing.

We will ask you to bring him back for a post-operative check, usually with a nurse, 3-5 days after the operation to check how the wound is healing. He may be then required to come back to the surgery to have his sutures removed 10-14 days after the operation, however sometimes internal skin sutures or dissolvable sutures are used, so suture removal is not always required – you will be advised which sutures have been used in your rabbit at discharge.

Neutering reduces a rabbit’s metabolism and therefore they may gain weight easily after castration. Therefore it is important to monitor his weight closely and adjust feeding to what they really need. Usually if they are on the correct grass/hay diet and receive plenty of exercise, a final adjustment to the amount of vegetables fed is all that is needed.