Spaying, Neutering & Aftercare for Rabbits
Why Spay or Neuter your rabbit?
80% of unspayed females (some statistics quote as high as 95%) will get uterine or ovarian cancer between two and five years of age. Preventing cancer by spaying your rabbit will give her the potential to reach her possible life span 8 – 10 years of age. Some rabbits, that I’m aware of, have lived to be 16 years old.
Upon reaching sexual maturity the male rabbit will often become a real nuisance. He will fight with other males. He will fall in love with your slippers (both off and on your feet) and will spray you, your slippers and other items that he wishes to make his very own. Neutering has completely stopped that behavior in all of the males that I’ve had altered, although it’s probably not a guarantee.
Where can I get my rabbit spayed or neutered in the Seattle area?
Check our list of recommended veterinarians. Note that some may not be willing to perform spay surgeries. We are big believers in spays for females, and we are happy to help you find a vet to spay your rabbit if you run into any difficulties (simply contact us for help).
We are thrilled to share that low-cost spay and neuter surgeries are now available at the following facilities:
- Seattle Animal Shelter Rabbit Spay Service. The link has lots of great information. A couple of additional notes from us: You don't have to live in Seattle to take advantage of this service. Also, ask for take home pain meds for your rabbit. They will provide Metacam for your rabbit for an extra $5 and it's very worth it (see below on this page).
- PAWS offers low cost rabbit spay / neuter services to qualified low income owners.
- Coalition Humane in Tacoma (Northwest Spay & Neuter Center) offers rabbit neuters for $75, spays for $85.
Is it dangerous to spay or neuter my rabbit?
Spay or neuter surgery has risks just like any other surgery, but the risks are often exaggerated for rabbit spays / neuters for some reason. This is old data, but The House Rabbit Society has had over 850 (as of March 1991) rabbits spayed or neutered with one reported death from anesthesia. That’s .1%, not 10% or 50% that some veterinarians quote as deaths due to anesthesia.
To a knowledgeable vet, a rabbit neuter (male) is relatively simple and quite safe. A rabbit spay (female) can be dangerous and life threatening if improper technique or general anesthesia is used. If the female is over 18 months old, it is recommended that blood tests be done to assess liver and kidney
function prior to general anesthesia.
Before and during a neuter
In this video from Velveteen Lop, Dr. Cruzen explains how a neuter is performed on Skyler.
After a spay or neuter
Always ask your veterinarian for take-home pain meds for your bunny. Some vets give 'preemptive' pain management medication, which basically means they give painkillers at the office and assume that your bunny's pain won't last more than 24 hours.
We highly recommend that you ask for 3-5 days worth of take-home pain medication for your rabbit, especially for females. This is invasive surgery (especially for females). We believe that some vets don't perscribe take home meds because so many rabbits are so stoic, and it's hard to tell they are in pain (so owners don't call and complain about not getting pain meds). But we are big believers in better safe than sorry when it comes to pain.
Your vet will probably give you Meloxicam, or Metacam. Take the time to review the dosage with your vet. If your vet has any questions about dosages, we are happy to put your vet in touch with our experienced rabbit vet to ensure the best dose for your bunny.
If your bunny is chewing at his or her incision, stitches, stapes or surgery site:
Check out our Surgery & Aftercare page for what the House Rabbit calls a Mae West collar, which looks like a great alternative to an e-collar
What to worry about, and what not to worry about.
After a spay, you should check the stitches every day to make sure they are not coming out or being torn at by your rabbit. If you see signs of bleeding, or indications that your rabbit is pulliing at her stitches, call your vet immediately.
After a neuter, most males will be fine and acting normal quite quickly. However, we have had experiences where the leftover scrotal sac has filled with blood. This can be alarming to see, as the scrotum can become very enlarged and purple with blood. As scary as this looks, it's not necessarily dangerous to your rabbit. Sometimes the cauterization of the vessels isn't complete, and what you are seeing is blood leaking into the scrotal sacs. Call your vet to let them know this is happening, but don't be suprised if they suggest you simply keep your boy bunny quiet and apply a cold pack to the area (as long as he's not actively bleeding externally).
Here's a helpful video on what a 'normal' result of a neuter should look like, and how to spot issues.