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Rabbits - Neutering

Dog with scarf

NEUTERING RABBITS

Females:
By 5 years of age, 50-95% of rabbits are likely to develop cancer of the womb. Uterine infections (pyometra) are common in rabbits over 7 years of age.

Speying removes all the behavioural problems associated with sexual maturity, such as nesting, mounting, aggression, spraying and mood swings. Neutered rabbits are also easier to toilet train and live more peaceably in the company of males.

Females are generally speyed at around 6 months of age but note that those kept in the company of males can be sexually mature (and therefore pregnant!) as young as 16 weeks.

Males:
Castration eliminates the behavioural changes associated with sexual maturity, principally mounting, spraying and aggression. Neutered males are easier to litter train, keep with females and smell rather less!

Castration is best performed around the time of sexual maturity at 3-4 months old. (Both testicles must be present.) Remember rabbits can still be fertile for up to 8 weeks after surgery.

ANAESTHETIC INFORMATION FOR RABBITS

Modern anaesthetics have made anaesthesia in rabbits much safer than previously considered. They remain, however, much more of an anaesthetic risk than most dogs and cats.

It is important that each patient is examined prior to surgery to allow us to assess for underlying respiratory conditions, such as Pasteurellosis. Many apparently healthy rabbits harbour respiratory infections and these can be exacerbated by the stress of surgery.

Rabbits should NOT be starved prior to surgery but can be continued to be offered food until they are admitted. Rabbits are unable to vomit, so food inhalation is not a risk.

Studies have shown that rabbits return to normal eating sooner if they have not been pre-starved.

Please bring along some of your rabbit’s normal food and his/her own bowl and water receptacle. It is very important that we do everything we can to get them eating as soon after surgery as possible.

With this in mind, rabbits will usually receive painkillers, fluids and intestinal stimulants, unless individual circumstances dictate otherwise.

Please bring your rabbit to the surgery in an escape proof container/box with a towel as bedding.

Please avoid using shavings or hay/straw as they can stick to wounds.

Careful post-operative care of rabbits is essential for any procedure to be successful. Rabbits must return to eating within 12 hours or bowel stasis is likely to occur. The production of faeces and urine must be monitored and abnormalities reported as they must be passed by the morning following the operation. Specialist nutritional support may be required.
Remember that, unlike cats and dogs, sick rabbits sit quiet and tell you nothing!

Please contact the surgery if you need advice at any time.