Preparing your rabbit for neutering
If you didn’t already know, rabbit neutering is the process of removing the rabbit’s reproductive organ via surgery. Like with every surgery, there is always the risk of something going wrong during the surgery. These accidents can be fatal to your bunny if not handled properly.
But does that mean you should avoid putting your bunny through neutering? No! Neutering your rabbit brings more benefits than harm thus, the risk is worth fighting for. With the right preparation, you can reduce the risk of your bunny suffering after their surgery.
If you treat your pets like your own child, the thought of having your pet undergo surgery can be very nerve-wracking. The fear is also amplified when you come to find out that not many veterinarians are good with rabbits. Rest assured, as long as do your due diligence in choosing the right veterinarian, the journey of neutering will be smooth.
Pre-operative care for rabbits is quite minimal as it usually aims to help the rabbit to get back on their feet faster after surgery. With proper preparation before neutering, you can expect a smoother recovery within the 12-36 hours time frame after their surgery.
1. Check with the veterinarian whether your rabbit is ready for neutering
Before attempting to neuter your bunny, you should check with the veterinarian whether your bunny is ready for the surgery. Most rabbit-savvy veterinarians will be able to give you an answer by running a few pre-requisite tests on your bunny.
Some of the pre-requisite tests includes:
- Physical examination – Physical examination can help your veterinarian determine whether your bunny is ready for neutering. Your rabbit must be at its healthiest state to prevent any outliers in the surgery. Physical examination may include checking your bunny’s weight, checking for injury, and asking you whether you about your rabbit’s history.
If your bunny’s weight is below 1kg, neutering may be risky as your rabbit could be malnourished or not mature enough yet. If your bunny is currently suffering from any injury, the surgery can also be risky as the complications are more likely to occur.
- Sexual maturity – The neutering process requires your bunny to be sexually mature. A general tell-tall sign for male rabbits is when their testicles are descended. Female rabbits are trickier so we recommend leaving it to the veterinarian. If you are unable to check the sexual maturity on your own, it’s best to have your veterinarian look at it.
- Health condition – If your bunny’s health is compromised due to any health issues, it is not recommended to go through with the surgery. These health issues can affect your rabbit’s recovery post-surgery and sometimes can also affect the neutering surgery. Some of these health issue includes respiratory infections (sneezing), stomach problems (bloating), digestive system issues (GI Stasis), and many more.
2. Don’t fast your rabbit
Fasting is not needed when it comes to rabbits! This can be confusing if you own other pets as fasting is very important when it comes to dog or cat surgery. However, rabbits don’t need fasting as their intestinal system is built differently. Fasting them may cause gastrointestinal problems such as Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis) due to slow movement in the GI tract.
Some veterinarians may ask you to fast 1-2 hours before the surgery. We do not encourage this but if your veterinarian performs the surgery right on time, then your bunny should be ok. Any longer period of fasting can be bad as some rabbits take a while to recover after surgery. They may avoid food due to the shock of the surgery.
What you should do instead
- Make sure your rabbit eats enough before the surgery – This minimizes the risk of your rabbit starving and developing gastrointestinal stasis (GI Stasis) if your rabbit is inappetence (not wanting to eat). Sometimes the surgery will shock your rabbit and this causes them to lose their appetite. Feeding them before their surgery combats GI Stasis as it keeps their gastrointestinal functions active.
- Provide your veterinarian with your rabbit’s usual diet – Some veterinarians may ask you to leave your rabbit with them for half a day or 1 whole day for them to monitor. It is rare but if the veterinarian insists, then it’s best to listen to the veterinary. In most cases, your rabbit won’t have the appetite to eat as the anesthesia wears off.
Having their usual hay or pellets prepared on standby increases the likelihood of them eating. You can provide the veterinarian with your bunny’s food by putting their hay and dry pellets in a small plastic bag or container.
If this is not possible then it is always a good idea to provide your veterinary with your rabbit’s diet (a small plastic bag of dry pellets and some fresh hay). This ensures that your rabbit gets access to food and water (usually provided by them) when his/her anesthesia wears off.
3. Bring your rabbit’s companion along
Rabbits are very social species and they often feel comfortable doing things together as a group. If your rabbit is already bonded with another rabbit (yay!), then you should bring the bonded rabbit along to the veterinary. This helps calm your rabbit that will be undergoing surgery.
If your rabbit is not bonded with another rabbit or you only have one rabbit, then you are his/her companion! Make your bunny feel comfortable throughout the journey by giving her attention and her favorite treat. If it is a young bunny, then you should keep the treat consumption minimal.
4. Schedule to collect your rabbit on the same day
If possible, always try to schedule the surgery in the morning so that you can collect your rabbit on the same day. Even though veterinarians are licensed practitioners, we prefer to take care of our bunnies on our own. We just do not have the level of trust to let the veterinarian to watch over our rabbits for a day or two. For all we know, they could just be leaving them in a cage!
Your rabbit may also get stressed out in an unfamiliar place surrounded by many other animals. The stress may affect your rabbit’s recovery and in some cases, traumatize them. A traumatized rabbit is not good as they may end up being anti-social for a prolonged period.
A rabbit requires undivided attention for the highest survival chance after surgery. Veterinarians may not be able to provide this as they have many other things to deal with! However, if your veterinarian advises you to leave your bunny with them to monitor, they may have a reason for it. For example, monitoring the stitches to ensure it stays intact for recovery.
We are here to tell you that you should not worry too much about the surgery! Nowadays, there are many veterinary out there that are good with rabbits. Of course, you must do your due diligence to find out whether the veterinarian that you are choosing has a good track record when it comes to rabbits.
Death related to neutering usually occurs after the surgery due to pet owners’ negligence. Post-operative care is usually the determinant factor for your bunny’s survival when neutering. Bad post-operative care may lead to fatal problems such as infections and bleeding due to open wounds!