Surgery can be as safe on rabbits as on any animal.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of veterinarians aren't experienced with
safe rabbit surgery techniques. Don't allow a veterinarian with little
or no experience with rabbits spay or neuter your rabbit. Using
isofluorene as the anesthetic and appropriate surgical and
after-surgery techniques, spaying and neutering of rabbits is as
safe as for any other animal.
veterinarians will have their own opinions on this, but in general, after
a rabbit is 6 years old, anesthetics and surgery become more
It is always a good idea, in a rabbit over 2 years of age, to
have a very thorough health check done, including full blood
work. This may be more expensive than the surgery, but it will
help detect any condition that could make the surgery more
risky. This is especially important if anesthetics other than
isofluorene are used.
One can shave the tummy and look for a spay scar. However, when
veterinarians use certain stitching techniques, there is no scar
whatsoever. Hopefully, these veterinarians will tattoo the tummy to
indicate the spay has been done, but otherwise, the only way of
knowing is to proceed with the surgery.
Spay/neuter costs vary tremendously in different areas of the country.
The low end of the range can be as inexpensive as $50-75 (often in
spay/neuter clinics), while vets in major metropolitan areas, where rents
and labor costs are very high, often charge several hundred dollars.
about how many rabbit clients does the veterinarian see in a year?
how many spays/neuters OF RABBITS has the veterinarian has done in
the past year?
what was the success rate?
90% success is way too low. Every doctor, whether for animals
or humans will occasionally lose a patient; usually because of
an undiagnosed problem. veterinarians across the country who spay and
neuter rabbits for the House Rabbit Society have lost on average less than 1/2
if any were lost, what was the cause?
does the veterinarian remove both uterus and ovaries? (they should)
does the veterinarian do "open" or "closed" neuters? (closed is
preferable--let your veterinarian explain the difference)
is entry to the testicles made through the scrotum or the
abdomen? (Entry via the abdomen
unnecessarily increases the trauma for male rabbits)
does the veterinarian require withholding of food and water prior to
surgery in rabbits? (Do not do this--rabbits
can't vomit, so there is no risk of that during surgery,
and rabbits should never be allowed to get empty digestive
what anesthetics are used--some veterinarians are quite successful
with anesthetics other than isofluorene, but the bunny is
"hung over" after surgery, which increases the probability
that s/he will be slow to start eating again, which can
lead to serious problems if not dealt with.
Review the procedure (op and immediate post-op) with your
vet. Ask how problems will be detected: how often will
they (the veterinarian and the techs) look in on your rabbit and what
will they look for?. What will they do pre-op to find any
potential problems? How will they support your bun in the
hours after surgery: Oxygen, warmth, quiet (barking dogs and
yowling cats in the next cage are probably not helpful),
and stimulation? What are they going to do to make it
come out right?! Ask questions! That will get your veterinarian's
attention. Let them know you're concerned and that you'll
be paying attention.
Some rabbit people give their rabbit acidophilus for a couple of days prior to
surgery, just to be certain that the digestive system is
functioning in fine form. But don't change the diet it any way
during this time.
After the surgery, ask your veterinarian for pain medication, especially for a spay. If you choose, continue giving acidophilus until the
appetite has returned to normal.
Inspect the incision morning and evening. After a neuter, the
scrotum may swell with fluids. Warm compresses will help, but
it is nothing to be overly concerned about. With any sign of
infection, take the rabbit to the veterinarian immediately.
After surgery, keep the environment quiet so the rabbit
doesn't startle or panic, don't do anything to encourage
acrobatics, but let the rabbit move around at her own pace--
she knows what hurts and what doesn't
Some veterinarians keep rabbits overnight. If your veterinarian lets you bring
your bunny home the first night, note the following:
Most males come home after being neutered looking for
"supper"-- be sure they have pellets, water, and some good
hay (good, fresh alfalfa is a good way to tempt them to
nibble a bit)
Most females want to be left alone, are not interested in
eating at all, and will sit quietly in a back corner of
the cage (or wherever in the house they feel they will
be bothered the least)
The following morning, or at latest by the next evening, it
is important for the rabbit to be nibbling something. It
doesn't matter what or how much, as long as she is taking
in something, so the digestive tract won't shut down. If
she isn't, tempt her with everything possible, and as a
last resort, make a mush of rabbit pellets (1 part pellets,
2 parts water, run through blender thoroughly, add
acidophilus, and feed in pea-sized bits with a feeding
syringe through the side of the mouth)
Occasionally a female will pull out her stitches. Get her
stitched up again, and then belly-band her by wrapping a
dish towel around her whole middle and binding that with an
elastic bandage wrapped snuggly over it. If she can breath
normally, it isn't too tight.