Neutering your rabbit can have very marked health benefits, and is definitely something every rabbit owner should consider. There is often a concern over anaesthetics in rabbits, but in a young, health rabbit, there should be no more risk than with a cat or a dog.
What is involved in a rabbit spay?
- When a rabbit is spayed, the vet will remove both the uterus and the ovaries, as in cats and dogs.
- The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and the incision is made in the ‘mid-line’, which is in the middle of your rabbits tummy.
- These days, anaesthetics in rabbits are very safe, especially in young, health rabbits, and the benefits of the operation definitely outweigh the risks.
- Female rabbits are generally spayed from about 5 months onwards.
- It is unusual for the vet to leave stitches in that need to be removed, most will place dissolvable sutures under the skin. This is because rabbits are notorious chewers, and can often remove their sutures, and it also reduces the potential for infection to get into the wound.
- The cost of spaying your rabbit will vary between clinics but expect to pay around £60-£80.
This rabbit is under a general anaesthetic, the hair has been clipped from the belly and cleaned in preparation for the operation.
This picture shows the rabbit being spayed, one horn of the uterus has been removed.
This picture shows the spay wound, it is small and neat. The sutures are all hidden under the skin and are dissolvable.
Why should I have my rabbit spayed?
- The main advantage of having a rabbit spayed is the behavioural problems that can be avoided.
- Unspayed females can become aggressive and territorial once they have reached puberty, which is around 5-6 months. They may scratch and bite their owners and become difficult to handle.
- They can also become aggressive towards other rabbits that they live with.
- Unspayed does can also start to spray urine as a marking behaviour, which will certainly cause a problem if they are kept as house rabbits.
- There are also health benefits; about 80% of unspayed does will develop uterine cancer after the age of 5. This is generally inoperable and even if the vet removes the uterus, the cancer can be very aggressive and spread.
- Spayed does will also not be able to get a ‘pyometra’. An infected uterus that becomes full of pus and is life threatening. They are also less likely to suffer from mammary cancers.
- Spayed rabbits in general make better pets, they are much easier to handle and are more affectionate, they are also less destructive, being less likely to dig big holes or chew excessively.
- Prevention of pregnancy. Rabbits get pregnant very easily, ( they do after all ‘breed like rabbits’!), and re-homing them can be difficult as there are a lot of unwanted pet rabbits. They can also suffer from false pregnancies, which will be prevented if they are spayed.
What is a rabbit castrate?
- When a male rabbit is castrated, both the testicles are removed via an incision just in front of the scrotum.
- The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic, which are very safe in young health rabbits, and the benefits definitely outweigh the risks.
- The stitches are usually placed under the skin and will dissolve on their own. This means the rabbit cannot chew out the sutures and re-open the wound. It also means the wound is less likely to become infected.
- Male rabbits can be castrated from about 4-5 months onwards.
- The cost of castrating your rabbit will vary between clinics but expect to pay around £50-£70.
This rabbit is under a general anaesthetic and the testicles have been clipped and prepped for surgery.
This picture shows one testicle removed from the scrotum during the operation.
The same rabbit post operatively, the sutures are all hidden in the scrotum, and the skin edges have been glued together.
Why should I have my rabbit castrated?
- The main benefits for having your rabbit castrated are behavioural.
- Entire male rabbits will often mark their territory by spraying urine, this is very strong smelling, and can be unpleasant if the rabbit is kept in the house.
- They can also be very aggressive, and have to be kept on their own, this can be stressful for rabbits as they are naturally very sociable creatures.
- Castrated rabbits in general make better pets, they are much easier to handle and are more affectionate. They are also less destructive, being less likely to dig big holes or chew excessively.
Please note, this is an advice only website, if you have any specific queries or concerns about your pet, you should contact your veterinary surgeon.