Spaying/neutering is the act of sterilizing an animal by removing its sexual organs. Females are spayed and have their ovaries removed whereas males are neutered and have their testicles removed.
It’s common to hear about owners spaying or neutering their dogs and cats, but pet rabbits can also benefit from being altered. Though it can be a scary though to put your bunny through such a serious and life-changing surgery, thousands of rabbits have undergone the procedure with no complication.
Cons of Spaying/Neutering Your Rabbit
If you have an experienced and certified rabbit veterinarian, then little to no issues should arise during and after the surgery. However, your rabbit can suffer negative consequences if you spay or neuter them too early without allowing them to fully develop with hormones.
A few of the cons associated with spaying or neutering your animal may include:
During the surgery, the dentist will use anesthetics to make the process painless for your bunny. Though rare, it’s possible that your bunny could react poorly to the anesthesia administered. After the surgery, it’s also possible to get an infection from the site of the surgery; however, if your veterinarian was careful, this is highly unlikely.
Sometimes, removing the sex organs can stunt the growth and release of hormones that help regulate the rabbit’s body. However, proper diet and nutrition after the surgery should curb any risk of obesity.
It’s possible that removing the hormones that typically stop the bones from growing after puberty can result in overgrowth and bone abnormalities. This is an uncommon occurrence and happens only for rabbits who are neutered too early.
Benefits of Spaying/Neutering Your Rabbit
Veterinarians recommend owners to spay or neuter your rabbit because it has a number of benefits.
Female rabbits have a 50% chance of developing uterine cancer in their lifetime. By spaying them, their risk is eliminated entirely and they live much longer lives. Similarly, male rabbits who are neutered will never develop testicular cancer. It can also improve the quality of life for both sexes. Hormones can lead females to have false pregnancies which result in stress and even balding. Males may get frustrated and aggressive from being unable to mate if they are not neutered.
Rabbits who are spayed or neutered are notably less aggressive and easier to train than those who are not spayed or neutered. The procedure moderates the product
ion of hormones. Though it doesn’t guarantee perfect behavior, it is known calm an animal’s temperament. Many owners also report that it’s easier to potty train rabbits after having them altered. Furthermore, the surgery allows opposite-sex rabbits coexist peacefully without risk of accidental breeding or fighting.
By spaying or neutering y
its, you can also help curb overpo
pulation. When rabbits breed, they can have large litters without homes for the bunnies to go to. Many rabbit shelters are already overcrowded, so the bunnies are either culled or released into the wild. An overpopulation of rabbits could have devastating effects on the ecosystem and harmful to the rabbits as well.
How It Works
Female rabbits can be spayed when they are 4 to 6 months old. Males can be neutered around 3 ½ months, depending on when their testicles drop. It’s very important to wait until the appropriate time to neuter your pets. Your veterinarian can tell when is the right time.
The veterinarian will first give the animal anesthesia to eliminate pain and fear. Since rabbits cannot vomit, there is no need to fast your pet before the operation.
Afterward, the veterinarian will make an incision to remove the sexual organs. For females, that typically means the uterus and ovaries and for males, that is the testicles. Male rabbits can also be castrated, but you may want to consult your veterinarian for that surgery at another date.
Check with your vet if you can bring your rabbit’s companion(s) to help ease anxiety or fear. Any and all emotional support is much appreciated!
Vets recommend taking your rabbit home after the surgery to be cared for rather than leaving them at the clinic. It can be frightening and emotionally tolling for rabbits to go through a serious surgery and stay in an unfamiliar place with strangers.
If the vet prescribes pain medication, make sure to administer it to your bunny accordingly because it may be sore for the next few days. During recovery, it’s normal for rabbits to lose their appetite for a short while, but they need to eat. Offer your rabbit his or her favorite treats, herbs, and have a bowl of water readily available.
Throughout the recovery period, keep an eye on your pet. Make sure your rabbit is eating, drinking, and pooping regularly. The sutures need time to heal, so if there are any signs of chewing on them, take your rabbit to the doctor to prevent it from happening again. Don’t be alarmed if your rabbit is grumpy or tired, it’s completely normal for the first week. Sometimes, all your little patient needs to heal is some time and understanding.
Getting your rabbit altered can extend its life by many years and improve its behavior drastically. Bunnies are overpopulated and they don’t need to mate in order to lead fulfilling lives. In fact, their quality of life is improved after getting spayed and neutered because it allows them to have less aggressive or sexually charged relationships with other bunnies and humans!
If you have a pet rabbit that needs to be altered, Dr. Lopez is an experienced vet who works extensively with rabbits. Feel free to contact our office in Anaheim if you would like to book an appointment or have any questions.