Should I spay or neuter my rabbit?

It is generally recommended to sterilize male and female rabbits kept as pets. The reasons are very similar to the cases in dogs and cats, and it is a matter of disease prevention, hygiene and good coexistence. One might think that it is “unnatural” to remove their sexual instincts, but let’s not forget that life as pets has very few similarities with life in the wild.

Health of spayed rabbits

As far as health is concerned, the advantages of spaying female rabbits is that all gynecological diseases are prevented, including ovarian, uterine and breast tumors. By neutering a male rabbit, aggression and territoriality are greatly reduced, so that they do not feel urged to fight with other rabbits or cats, for example, to defend their territory or belongings. Once the need to mate is eliminated, rabbits become more sociable, affectionate and calm companions. They are also less prone to destructive behaviors (such as gnawing or digging) or aggressive behaviors (such as attacking, biting, growling and other manifestations).

It is also easier to teach hygiene habits when the rabbit is spayed or neutered. Rabbits learn to use their litter box more safely and with less risk of accidents after surgery, and males stop urinating on vertical surfaces to mark territory. Another advantage of neutering the rabbit is that the urine no longer has that strong odor characteristic of intact males.

We must not forget the issue of rabbit overpopulation. Each year many animals are eliminated for lack of a home for them and we must be very responsible when it comes to having our pets reproduce and contribute even more to this figure. Perhaps you can find homes for several bunnies; if so, it is better to try to place the ones that have already been born and are abandoned than to bring more into the world. Don’t even think for a moment about letting them “free”, as they will most likely end up as prey for some other animal, or if they survive they could unleash an environmental problem by multiplying.

Remember that rabbits are social animals and like to have the company of a congener. The only way they can live together if they are of different sexes is to castrate the rabbits to prevent them from reproducing over and over again, while if they are of the same sex, sterilization makes them more docile and they do not fight because of aggressive or sexual hormone-dependent behaviors.

Sterilization of rabbits

Some doubts may arise due to the risk involved in surgery, but if you look for a veterinarian with experience in these animals, the risk is really minimal. Castration of rabbits is a routine procedure that is done hundreds of times, and inhalation anesthetic drugs provide a wider and wider margin of safety.

It is recommended to castrate the rabbit when the female is about 6 months old and the male from 5 months. Although both are sexually mature a little earlier, many veterinarians prefer to wait until this age so that they are a little older and the surgery is safer. If you are determined to have your rabbit or doe spayed, it is definitely better to have them operated on before they are 1 year old.

Ask your veterinarian about all the pre and post operative care you should take when spaying or neutering your rabbit. Remember that rabbits should not fast before anesthesia; it is important that the intestine is always full in these animals to maintain a good balance in their digestive system. As little as 24 hours of fasting is enough time for liver damage to occur, therefore it will be sufficient to withdraw food about 2 hours before the procedure. The anesthetic drug of choice is isofluorane, a gas that is more expensive but very safe and gives a fairly rapid recovery after surgery.

After neutering the rabbit you should place him in a quiet place where he can rest. It is normal for him to be sleepy and with little appetite, but you will see that he will soon recover. Give him food that he likes so that he starts to eat as soon as possible. Let him move as he wants, avoiding jumps and sudden movements and check the wound every day, applying the cures that the veterinarian has indicated. The scrotum in males tends to swell a lot due to fluid accumulation, but as long as there are no signs of discomfort or infection, this should not worry you.

It is always difficult to make decisions that are irreversible and involve even a minimal risk for our pets, but keep in mind that many, many rabbits have gone through this procedure without negative consequences and with all the advantages we have listed. This will lead to a more loving, docile and healthy pet for many years to come.

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