Neutering – Males
The surgery for neutering males is a very simple, non-invasive procedure, taking only a few minutes. However, it is vital the rabbit be kept away from a female for at least ten days until his healing is complete. He may damage himself badly if allowed to be with a female.
If the anesthetic isofluorene was used as the only anesthetic, the male rabbit comes home ready to eat and drink, apparently unaware that anything has happened. If other anesthetics have been used, he may be groggy for a few hours, but he will be ready to proceed as though nothing had taken place when he is fully awake.
Check the incisions between the back legs every day for the first five days. Although it is extremely rare, if you see any drainage or inflammation, contact your vet.
It is common for the scrotum to fill with fluids, making it appear the testicles are still there. Warm compresses may be applied, but rabbits seldom appear to be uncomfortable from the swelling. In time, the scrotum will shrink until it is no longer obvious.
Spaying – Females
Spaying the female is a major, invasive surgery. The uterus and ovaries are all removed. Usually the incision is sewn together with material that absorbs over time, so it is not necessary to remove stitches. It is vital the rabbit be kept away from a male for at least ten days until healing is complete. She may be fatally damaged if a male (even a neutered male) is allowed to be with her.
The first evening after surgery, the female will want to be left completely alone, huddling quietly and having no interest in food or water. She should not be disturbed. Ask your veterinarian about pain relievers for the first 24 hours.
The next morning, you may try interesting her in nibbling on a bit of alfalfa, a sprig of parsley, a whole-grain cracker, or any favorite food.
- If she nibbles on any of these, she will probably continue nibbling that evening and will gradually regain her full appetite.
- If she doesn’t nibble on anything in the morning, try again in the evening. Again, if she nibbles on anything, she will probably continue to nibble and gradually regain her appetite.
- If she hasn’t nibbled on anything within 24 hours of her surgery, action must be taken:
- Obtain some acidophilus from a pharmacy or health food store. If in powdered form, mix with a little water to form a paste. Syringe a single mouthful into the rabbit’s mouth from the side, where there are no teeth (between the incisors and the molars). Repeat every 12 hours until the rabbit begins eating.
- If the rabbit still isn’t eating after 48 hours after the surgery, get Probiocin (or a similar product) from your veterinarian, and give every 12 hours until the rabbit is again eating. The acidophilus can be given at the same time. (Probiocin contains the living organisms that digest the food in the rabbit’s digestive tract.)
- If your rabbit isn’t eating after three days, contact the the Colorado House Rabbit Society at 303-669-8962 for directions on hand feeding and other assistance. It is critical to get her eating at this point.
It is rare for a rabbit to chew at her incision if “invisible” stitching is used. If visible stitching is used, or the material used for the stitches must be removed, the incision is likely to cause her to chew at it. If she chews it open, you may find her lying with her intestines hanging out, so keep a very close eye on her for the first several days. If she chews her incision even partially open, take her to a veterinarian immediately.
To prevent such chewing, wrap her in a soft piece of cloth (a dish towel is good), and then wrap her fairly tightly from her forelegs to her hind-legs with Ace bandage. She will resemble a sausage with legs, and won’t be able to bend. Remove the bandage daily and check the incision. Give her time out of her bandage if you can watch her closely.
Check the incision every day for the first five days. If you see any drainage or inflammation, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Spaying and neutering will not affect your rabbits’ personalities. It may cause a male to appear less friendly, but only because what seemed like friendliness was hormone-driven frustration. It may also make your female calmer when she isn’t suffering from “Bunny PMS.”
Spaying and neutering rabbits is essential to their well-being:
- Unspayed females, whether or not they have had a litter, have an 80% probability of uterine cancer. The tiny risk of spaying is well worth paying to avoid the nearly-certain risk of your rabbit dying from this horrible illness.
- Males will almost certainly stop (or not start) spraying. (The longest I’ve seen a rabbit continue to spray after neutering was three days.)
- Both sexes will be much less frustrated and aggressive, improving the quality of life for all of you.