Please bring your rabbit to the surgery, the night before the operation between 4pm – 7pm Please bring a small bag of your rabbit’s normal diet, including vegetables or hay.
The technical name for a rabbit spay is an ovariohysterectomy, which means the removal of the ovaries and uterus (womb). You will, more commonly, hear people saying that their rabbit has been neutered, spayed or dressed. This is a one off procedure and cannot be reversed.
When should I spay my rabbit?
We feel that the ideal time to spay a rabbit is at six months old, although adult rabbits can be spayed at any time. Some rabbits can be neutered from as early as 4 months old, if they housed with entire males.
What are the advantages?
The main advantage is that your rabbit will not be able to get pregnant. Rabbits become sexually mature around five or six months old.
Neutering also prevents false pregnancies. Rabbits are reflex ovulators. Even rough handling (struggling when being caught) can cause an egg to be released. This will initiate release of hormones that will make her think she is pregnant and go through some of the physical changes associated with pregnancy (most noticeably pulling out her fur and making a nest).
Female rabbits are also susceptible to adenocarcinoma of the womb, which can occurs in un-neutered female rabbits from 2 years of age. Different studies have suggested an incidence of between 50 and 80 % in rabbits over 4 years of age. The disease is usually quite advanced before any signs are noticed, therefore surgery at that stage has a guarded prognosis.
Neutering can also have a marked effect on the behaviour of female rabbits. Normally does are the more dominant sex and neutering them can calm them and prevent, reduce or stop unwanted behaviour.
What are the disadvantages?
Spaying, although a routine procedure for small animal veterinary surgeons, is a major operation, involving entry into the abdominal cavity. A small number of animals have problems with anaesthetics, the operation itself and with post operative haemorrhage. This can result from too much activity, dislodging one of the internal blood vessel ties. Surgical experience, good nursing help and careful supervision does reduce the risk but that risk cannot be totally eliminated.
Rabbits also like to chew their sutures out, so you must be able to check the wound daily, after the operation. We do not routinely give out buster collars for rabbits, as this can cause problems when it comes to eating their caecatrophs.
There is a higher proportion of overweight spayed rabbits compared to their entire counterparts. There is no doubt that a spayed rabbit requires less food for a given weight and activity level.
Rabbits which are overweight can develop a dewlap under their chin and develop a dirty bottom, as they cannot get round to clean it or eat their caecatrophs, this can become the prefect area for flystrike or urine scald.
We encourage weight checking and will weigh your rabbit at each vaccination so that fine tuning of food intake can be made. With proper management, there is no reason for any weight gain as a result of spaying.
Booking your rabbit in for spaying.
We perform routine surgery each day except, Wednesday and given a little notice we can accommodate a specific day to suit your schedule.
Rabbits should not be starved prior to surgery and with-holding food can be detrimental to their health. Therefore we would ask you to treat your rabbit as normal, regarding food and water.
We normally admit rabbits the evening prior to the operation, as this gives rabbits the chance to settle into the practice, getting used to the smells & sounds and reducing their stress levels. It is very important that rabbits are not too stressed prior to operations, as this can increase the risks of the anaesthetic. Bringing their own diet also reduces stress and ensures the rabbit has something familiar to eat after the operation.
If your rabbit has a favourite toy, please feel free to bring it in as this will also help familiarise them.
The consent form
We shall ask you, or an authorised adult, for written permission to perform the castration operation on your pet. We make time to guide you through the consent form so that we can explain any terms that you do not understand or are worried about.
All pets undergoing surgery at A+G Vets have an analgesic (painkiller), antibiotic and gut motility drug as part of their premedication, so that they are more comfortable and therefore less frightened when they wake up.
We allocate each pet an individual kennel, although siblings may share a kennel, if preferred. We try to keep rabbits away from other animals, to reduce the stress that they will be feeling. The kennels are warm and sound insulated and each has a lightweight polyester fleece and a heat pad for warmth and comfort. All animals are within sight of the nursing team, allowing prompt intervention, if required.
With all our rabbits operations, we give fluid therapy within our anaesthetic protocol. This allows the rabbits to have a smoother recovery and keeps the guts from becoming dehydrated, which could lead to gut stasis and a potentially unhappy bunny!
Care of surgical wounds
Wounds do not normally require any attention except for you preventing your pet licking excessively at the wound, or removing the stitches. We have to make a charge for re suturing wounds, often involving another anaesthetic, if stitches have been lost as a result of a lack of supervision.
We normally remove stitches after ten days, although we may use dissolving sutures for particularly jumpy or nervous bunnies, which do not require removal.
Contacting us if you are worried.
When your rabbit is discharged you will receive instruction as to how to receive advice during the evening. We have 24 hour out-of-hour emergency care, which you are able to contact by calling the surgery for the relevant emergency mobile number.