Neuetering your rabbit.
- Prevent pregnancy - if you are keeping, or wishing to keep a male and female rabbit together, this is probably the main reason for neutering your pet rabbits. We would recommend neutering both pets, but remember… males can remain fertile for up to 2-3 weeks after castration and females should be kept away from males 10 days post-operatively! This will obviously mean housing them separately for a short period of time.
- Prevent or treat behaviour problems. Inter-rabbit aggression can occur with male/male, female/female, or female/male pairings, even if they are related. Early neutering of both pets will prevent any aggression problems from occurring, and may help with these types of problems in older rabbits. Aggression toward people can occur when rabbits are left entire and become very territorial. This is shown by biting or scratching when handled, or in more severe cases when the owner enters the area of the run. Neutered rabbits do not have this hormonal stimulus and are therefore often more relaxed, and easier to handle. Urinary spraying may be performed by entire males or females, and can be stopped by neutering at any age.
- Prevent hormone-related tumours. Unspayed females are susceptible to a number of hormone related problems, including uterine cancer and mammary tumours. Up to 80% of unspayed does develop uterine cancer by the age of 5. Rabbits spayed at a young age are less likely to develop mammary tumours.
- Prevent pyometra. This is another hormone-related problem for the female. Pyometra, or womb infection, is a condition likely to occur in the older unspayed female rabbit.
- Prevent pseudopregnancy and mastitis. Unspayed does that are not mated will often have repeated false pregnancies. This not only causes a significant change in temperament (i.e. an increase in aggression), but also leaves the animal susceptible to mastitis, an infection of the mammary glands, a condition that is difficult to treat.
- Anaesthetic risk. Rabbits have gained a reputation as being difficult to anaesthetise. However, the risk to these pets has fallen greatly in recent years, with advances in anaesthesia. With experienced nurses and veterinary surgeons, this operation is as safe as performing the same surgery on a cat.
- Surgical risk. As with any operation there is a small surgical risk, however the benefits of spaying or castrating far outweigh this very minimal risk. Older or unwell rabbits are obviously more difficult to neuter safely, and we would therefore recommend neutering your rabbit as soon after the age of 4 months as possible.
- Pre-operative checks. This check will include a thorough examination performed by a veterinary surgeon on the day of the surgery, this is to assess your rabbit’s physical condition, as well as checking the heart and lung function.
- The consent form. As with human medicine, we will require a signed consent form before your rabbit undergoes surgery. This will be sent to you a few days before your rabbit’s operation and we recommend you read it carefully before signing, and remember to bring it with you on the day. N.B. Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits should not be starved prior to surgery.
- The operation.Your rabbit’s surgery will be performed in our surgical theatre, where he or she will be constantly monitored by one of our trained nurses. As rabbits are more prone to heat loss than other anaesthetised patients, he or she will be provided with direct heat from a heat-pad during surgery. All our rabbit surgical cases are given post-operative pain-killers to reduce any discomfort. If you would like to view our surgical facilities, please let us know. Although it may not be possible on the day of your rabbit’s operation, we would be happy to arrange a time for you to visit us prior to your rabbit’s surgery.
If you are considering adopting a rabbit as a pet, do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss any questions you may have.