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Rabbits Online > Pet Rabbit Discussion > Nutrition and Behavior > Pros and Cons for spaying rabbits? A debatable question, what's your opinion?

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Old 05-16-2010, 05:25 PM   #1
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I'm starting to wonder IF I should have the three girl bun's I have spayed or not. They're young at 3 months old and get along great at this time . (I know that could change later once they hit the "teenage" phase)

I've read all the usual pro's about spaying buns. The biggest pro is the reduction of hormone-induced behavior. They don't do any territorial spraying now, so I'd love to reduce that potential later by spaying now. Removing the possibility of uterine cancer is a great idea, but then again, I'm actually unsure if that's as great a reason to complete a spay. I've had senior bun's before, their lives aren't always what I'd call quality after age 6. They can succumb to a number of illnesses by then that I'd prefer having the poor animal's suffering reduced by euth' rather than have it lead a poor existence. So, I'm contemplating not doing a spay for that reason. Why have my buns suffer a single traumatic surgery at all? Unlike neutering, spaying is an invasive surgery that brings on a host of potential complications that at this time my buns don't have. I'm starting to think, why complicate things when I really don't have any behavior issues in my healthy, active, happy, content buns?

I don't plan on breeding them, and there's no male bun's here at all.
I am rehoming them, which does make me lean nearly 98% towards spaying them.
Yet, I'm still not keen on doing this.

Haven't any of you been through sugeries before in your life? Honestly, I have been! I'd rather push for a quality shorter existence that gives the buns the least trauma rather than push for elective surgeries that seem to be performed for the human's convenience (sure I'd like a less destructive bun too!). If the bun comes down w/ uterine cancer, a quick euth' would be prefered over having to experience a "rite of passage" surgery now AND another painful procedure later. I'm all about maximizing stress-free living for the buns.

What's your opinion on such a matter?

I'm pretty open to anything, and I can change my mind. This is mostly contemplation that may seem like overboard over-analysis to some but an elective surgery imo requires considerable forethought. I usually push for spay/neuter mostly to prevent unwanted preg's. Of course, I know that it's still a surgery. These things aren't fool-proof. I've been through complications with a spay on one of my dogs. But, just to spay in order to reduce the unwanted behavior that a human doesn't find appealing? I'm leaning towards being less inclined to spay for that purpose. Recall it's an elective surgery being performed on an otherwise healthy rabbit.

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Old 05-16-2010, 06:33 PM   #2
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I am 100% in favor of spaying female rabbits. I know its expensive and invasive, but so worth it. My rabbits are much calmer, nicer and have almost zero behavior issues after the spay. They also will litter train easier.

Also, I think it's silly to say you dont mind the risk of uterine cancer. It can be a horrible death for rabbits and is more likely to be avoided with spaying. My two oldest rabbits are aged 10 and 7 and yes, they have started to develop more health problems, but to say that you dont want to extend their life by spaying them is, to me, like saying you would rather your family members die young than risk watching them grow old. We humans tend to have more problems as we age as well To me, the extra time is so worth it.

I think even if you are not concerned about the health reasons for spaying, the behavioral benefits make it worth the while. Females who are unspayed tend to be territorial, sometimes aggressive and tempermental. Not to say it cant be done, but I think it would be very difficult to have 3 females together as they reach sexual maturity and enter their teenage years if they are all unspayed.

If you have a good vet who knows what they are doing, the proceduce should not be that big of a deal. I have had my two females spayed and taken countless in for the shelter I volunteer with, all with no problems.

I hope this helps with your decision. Good luck!

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Old 05-16-2010, 06:35 PM   #3
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I think the biggest pro is that there is no longer any chance of reproductive cancer - at an 85% change of cancer by age 4, that's a huge risk to be taking.

I'm 100% for the spaying of rabbits. I honestly don't see any cons at all. There is a slight chance of a problem on the operating table, but with a good vet those chances are far lower than the chance of dying young from cancer. In our minds I think we tend to blow up the risk of surgery (which is immediate) vs the risk of cancer (which is a few years away) but if you really weigh them logically there's no comparison, in my opinion.

I would rather my bun go through one day worth of sugery and stress than months of dying from uterine cancer. I would also rather give my bun a long 10 year life than a short one ending in cancer.

I had 6+ surgeries (lost count) that all involved full anesthesia. They weren't elective necessarily, though I could have kept living my life without getting them, but my quality of life would have been diminished. I'm glad I went through with every one and they honestly weren't that bad. I would put my animals through that same experience (ie surgery, not necessarily6 of them)to give them a better quality of life too.

It's also almost impossible for an unspayed female rabbit to have a companion. They're just too territorial. I would rather my animals have a happy emotional life (not wanting to mate all the time) and be able to enjoy time with a bunny friend instead of being angry and territorial all alone. I think having that strong urge to mate and no way to deal with it is afar far more stressful life (for both males and females)than one day of surgery.
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:47 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for the replies. I'm glad I can get opinions from those of you that have had rabbits for a long time thus I trust your words.

I hope that you all didn't think that I was saying that uterine cancer is an okay way to go. Heavens no! But, I am a realist who aims to have pets that have as stress free a life as they can manage. I was considering that an elective surgery may?? be uncalled for. It's not the length of life that counts, but the quality (just my own philosophy). Something will eventually do us all in. And, uterine cancer is merely one of many that can crop up. You can remove "arm cancer" if you don't have an arm you know (I'm being slightly sarcastic and am almost positive that there isn't a specific disease titled "arm cancer"). I'm personally pretty careful with pets. I'm all about routine tests and check ups. Rabbits for one thing can hide illness.

I'm trying to be entirely empathetic in my decision and not basing it on the price (within reason) at all. I will have the pre-anesthetic blood panel done and I found an experienced vet referenced by friends at the local university vet hospital that I think does the laser spay/neuter (process heals faster). I'm making sure that an inhalant (isoflurane or sevoflurane) anesthetic is used during the process and that all appropriate monitoring is in place. I'm not too keen on rabbits getting injections. I'm not sure which post-surgical pain med's are most effective but I'm expecting Metacam or perhaps Banamine will be used.

I've witnessed my dog go through the whole process from intubation through recovery in order to get a root canal/crown put in place (he broke a canine). I've done this all before, just not with rabbits. My previous rabbit experience only involves male buns. I never had a one of them neutered. One reached age 7, the other age 12.

Weighing the pro's/con's anyhow, although I'm always hesitant about any surgery, I can say that I'm leaning 98% towards having them spayed. Actually I was already considering it, but the thought of maybe not doing it did creep into my head.

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Old 05-17-2010, 03:12 AM   #5
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Personally, I'm 100% for the spaying of young pet rabbits. Spayed rabbits not only aren't susceptible to uterine cancer, but the decrease in hormonal behavior makes them easier to bond with another bunny. If you're planning on your rabbit ever sharing a home with an intact male, I think it's absolutely essential. I've seen way too many well meaning people have accidental breedings.

I understand your concerns about putting them through surgery, but I've seen a lot of animals go through surgery (my own, ones at the shelter I used to volunteer at and ones at the animal hospital I work at over the summer) and I find that young animals really bounce back right away.

Refusing to spay an animal, with the recognition that it could cut its life span in half, because you're worried about the 2 days of discomfort following a surgery makes no sense to me. That's like refusing to get vaccinated because you don't like needles. I'll admit I weigh the odds and make decisions with my own health. I eat raw cookie dough because it's tasty and the effects of salmonella only last a few days so I'm not that worried about it. However, I wouldn't eat a brain from an area known to have animals with prion diseases because CJD is forever and I want to keep my brain prion free.
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Old 05-17-2010, 04:02 AM   #6
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LOL, yep, I've eaten raw cookie dough and I've lived to tell. Thanks for your advice, Missyscove. It appears that mine are lucky since they are so young. That's a plus in their favor for recovery.

This is interesting, so far so good on your experiences.

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Old 05-17-2010, 12:07 PM   #7
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elrohwen wrote:
I think the biggest pro is that there is no longer any chance of reproductive cancer - at an 85% change of cancer by age 4, that's a huge risk to be taking.
This particular study is often misquoted. The study found an 85% chance of "tumors" (most benign) by age 4 - not an 85% chance of "cancer". Benign uterine tumors are common in most mammals and generally require little medical attention.

Having known people who lost their rabbits during surgery, I understand your concerns. In fact, I have been putting off having our dog neutered because of someone I know who recently suffered the heartbreaking loss of their young dog during his neuter surgery (he had a minor heart abnormality and died when he was put under).

I also remember when Dan, a forum member, purchased a Dwarf Hotot doe from me and she died during spay surgery. Dan was absolutely heartbroken.

So, I personally don't recommend spay/neuter 100%.

That said - death during surgery is very rare and rabbits should be thoroughly checked for any pre-existing health problems. Older rabbits are at higher risk. Also, choose a vet who is experienced in rabbit surgery. I've taken a couple rabbits in for surgery and our rabbits did fine.

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Old 05-17-2010, 12:40 PM   #8
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I'm pro Spay/Neuter for Rabbits. I'm involved in Rabbit rescue though, so it's a very important aspect. I also believe having a health check done before the surgery is in the animals best interest. Losing a bunny during Spaying/Neutering is rare when using a qualified vet and usually the result of underlying health problems that would have caused problems in life regardless. Spaying female Rabbit's has the same benefits as spaying a Cat or Dog. Health, Behavioral, Quality of Life, and knowing your Rabbits will never add to the overpopulation problem.

With pain medication and TLC from their human, bunnies typically handle the recovery just fine.

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Old 05-17-2010, 12:51 PM   #9
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The thing about cancer if they get it is you will not know tell they are in the final stages most of the time. Rabbits hide illness very very very well.

I would spay I have had one bun spayed and 2 buns neutered I could really tell you that even though Jessi is only a month and a half out of her spay I bet she does not remember most of it.

She came around in four days and for me four days of feeling a little bad is better then cancer or a surgery later in life to remove tumors. Where they will spay anyway.

I would do it for me the behavior is not even a factor as I have never been through the not spayed so I know no different. The one un-neutered male I had for longer then a few weeks the only thing he did was hump my arm a lot.

I would spay I have had three done and they are no worse for the were.
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Old 05-17-2010, 02:01 PM   #10
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I personally don't think that the expense and the stress it puts on the rabbit is worth it for a doe. I think neutering can be beneficial to pet owners on bucks because some of them face issues with spraying or other behaviors that simply can't be tolerated in a house with other pets, children,...walls. LOL!

But my does in general have displayed very, very minimal hormonal behavior and I have not been convinced that spaying is worth the risk and stress.

I also have a very happy pair of a 7 and 8 year old does to back me up on this. Both very healthy and happy.

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