As a pet owner, it is important that you know the facts about spaying or neutering your house rabbit. This article covers some of the benefits to having the procedure done (if performed at the right time by a rabbit-savvy veterinarian), and it also includes a few notes on what to expect during and after the surgery.
Benefits to Spaying or Neutering Your Bunny
There are many benefits to spaying or neutering a rabbit. First and foremost, a fixed rabbit can live a longer, healthier life as the risk of cancer and urinary tract infections are greatly reduced.
Second, a rabbit that is spayed/neutered becomes calmer and easier to manage. Their destructive habits subside a bit,yet they don’t lose their charmingly mischievous nature. Altered rabbits are also easier to litter train and have less of an urge to spray.
Spayed and neutered house rabbits are easier to bond because of their calmer demeanor. And of course, an altered couple will not end up with a litter of baby buns. While baby bunnies are adorable, there is an issue with overpopulation. Most rabbit shelters are consistently full.
When Should You Spay or Neuter Your Pet Rabbit?
When male rabbits are between 3 and 5 months old, they are old enough to be neutered. Female rabbits are generally old enough to be spayed between 4 and 6 months; this is when they first reach sexual maturity. When rabbits have reached middle age (5-6 years old) they can be considered too old to be altered. Rabbits that are too young or too old are at higher risk for complications from surgery.
What to Expect from the Spay/Neuter Surgery
Spaying is the procedure performed on female rabbits to remove the reproductive organs. The procedure takes place through the abdomen. Blood vessels that lead to the reproductive tract are tied and the reproductive tract is removed. The rabbit then receives several sets of sutures to close her back up.
Neutering is performed on male rabbits to remove the testes. The veterinarian will make an incision in the scrotum and remove the testicles through it. Up to three weeks after the surgery a male rabbit can still have semen stored in his body. For this reason a recently altered male should be kept away from unaltered female rabbits during this time period.
In order to provide a safe spay/neuter experience for your rabbit you need to find an experienced veterinarian. When looking for a veterinarian, be sure to ask if he/she has had experience working with rabbits. If there is a local rabbit shelter in your area, they may be able to recommend a vet to you.
If you have adopted your rabbit from shelter or rescue, the rabbit may already be altered. Be sure to ask. Talk to your qualified vet about what to do to prepare your rabbit for surgery and how to provide care post-surgery. Also ask your veterinarian to explain the procedure thoroughly as it may ease your own anxieties to know what will happen.
Be sure to monitor your rabbit after the procedure for changes in behavior, failure to eat, pulling at stitches or signs of infection.