A Discussion On Alternate Fixing Procedures

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Troller

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Hey folks, this isn't about my bunnies or any specific bunny, just a topic I read about elsewhere and am curious to what other people think on the matter. Now in a site I visit All Experts has a very knowledgable vet named Dana Krempels who mentions a procedure on a doe where its still a hysterectomy but doesn't remove the ovaries. This removes the chance of breeding, limits highly the chance of cancer and keeps the hormonal nature of the doe somewhat intact and I would figure a bit closer to natural.

I mean't to ask a question there but she appears to be on vacation. Could a buck essentially get a vasectomy as well, eliminating breeding but keeping their hormonal nature intact?

Now I know a lot of the reason we fix our animals besides for eliminating breeding is to eliminate the hormonal behavior, but for me I'm not sure Its such a concern, plus I'm more accepting of such behavior as long as its not detrimental to health and hopefully not too destructive. My Conan for instance was nearly a year old and really well behaved except he circled us and honked. We didn't mind it. After his neuter, he's still a good boy but he's more timid then he used to be and of course now doesn't circle or honk. I'm not sure how much more hormonal my doe Xena would have gotten since I had her fixed young so I can't say much about her but I wonder if she'd be more of a terror then she is now.

How would this effect keeping multiple rabbits as pets? Lets say you could eliminate the baby making aspect of a buck and doe, would bonding a male/female become that much harder or would it be a little easier due to sexual interest? Of course having rabbits go at it every so often would probably be the kind of hormonal behavior most would want to get rid of, but lets say maybe some can handle that. Will it always be spraying and humping or could it eventually balance out with age. What would the quality of rabbits lives be and their keepers?

To me, and i know I'm alone in my circles, but its never sat comfortably just fixing an animal. I understand and agree with the general reasons, but I think sometimes we've just come to accept a solution and since it works never look for better. First we cause a physical mutilation, and then a behavioral one. What if we could just end it at one? Is it done the general way because its cost effective?

Its a subject I find interesting so if anyone else does to I'd like to hear views on the matter.


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Azerane

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It's certainly an interesting thought, I'm not sure to what extent the hormonal nature of the rabbit would remain, I mean I suppose it would pretty much still be there. And I suppose for a species such as rabbits which can already be difficult to bond, it might be nearly impossible to bond males that were fixed that way and there may still be a bit much mounting between genders etc. But it really is hard to say.

For a single rabbit household the remaining hormones wouldn't matter, unless it didn't reduce or cut out some unwanted behaviours like spraying. I mean I certainly get what you're saying. My fiance is quite against spaying/neutering, mostly for dogs. He understands the reasons for cats because they can leave your backyard etc if you let them outside, and he gets the reasons for rabbits too. But I suppose because he grew up with a dog that wasn't neutered and was perfectly friendly, he sees neutering as unnecessary and cruel. To me, if you never intend to breed, fixing a pet is mostly a good thing, you're reducing the chance of accidents, any possible unwanted hormonal behaviours, and any related diseases that might crop up, like with female rabbits. Then again, this thread isn't really about pro/con fixing, it's the alternative methods.
 

PaGal

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What I wonder about and have for a while is any possible detriment to a any animals health or humans for that matter when you alter the hormonal balance. I mean do we really know how taking away the hormones can affect the body in the long run?

Take women for instance, how many go on hormone replacement therapy after menopause. I know having your tubes tied can bring on early menopause. What affects does that have physically to start menopause years before a person should? Does it possibly speed up the whole aging process and possibly cut a persons life short? Could it not be the same for animals?

None of my buns are neutered/spayed. I never had any intentions of having Thumper neutered unless he just started having negative behaviors that we could really not adjust to or if we could not find a way to adjust his behavior in other means. There was the thought that if he seemed to only have one thought on his mind then again neutering might have been done because it would seem to be a frustrating life. He did start spraying after the girls were here for a while but with a simple change in set up that has stopped.

Laverne and Shirley are not spayed and they are bonded. Every once in a while one will mount the other but it is very rare now. They did so a little more often when they first came here to live so I am assuming they were just reinforcing the hierarchy due to new surroundings. Like Thumper they also show none of the unwanted behaviors you typically hear about from unneutered/ unsprayed animals. Some of which may have to do with the hormones leveling out after puberty.

That's not to say that I am against spaying/neutering. I do believe there are too many unwanted animals in this world so doing so is the right thing especially in animals that have a greater chance of having an accidental pregnancy. With the buns I can control their environment to prevent that.

As far as the positive health aspects as in reduced risk of cancer I can see where some could argue it's not necessary. It could reduce the risk of cancer in women as well and yet we don't perform hysterectomies on women except when medically needed.
 

akane

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I wouldn't put opposite genders together with hormones. Either the doe is always going to want bred and hump the buck to exhaustion or never want bred and be constantly annoyed by the buck. I've kept intact small breed pairs together in large pens before and won't do it again. The does get so irritated they become violent toward everything including people.

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Korr_and_Sophie

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I have heard of doing something like a vasectomy on dogs. It is a much simpler procedure than a neuter and has a much faster recovery time (they are pretty much back to normal within the day).

One issue I can see with this sort of procedure is that it really only addresses reproduction. Many animals are spayed or neutered partly for hormonal reasons. Males can hump a lot, spray and even be aggressive. Females can be quite territorial and aggressive. These are behaviours that are part of why people will surrender rabbits. With bonding, hormones play a big role, so even if they can't breed, they can still want to and can act like intact rabbits. Many of the reproductive cancers are related to the hormones, so they would not really be reduced.
If your rabbit (or dog or cat) ever got lost and ended up in a shelter, they would be treated as intact. Males as easy enough to tell, but without a traceable tattoo or microchip, they would be considered intact and fertile and go through the surgery. With females, a lot is determined on behaviour, so if she acts intact, it is usually assumed that she is and she would have another surgery.

If you only have 1 rabbit, breeding would not be an issue anyway. If you wanted to bond, hormones are an issue, so you would be better off just getting them spayed or neutered the regular way.

I have heard of some studies around feral dog populations where the female are implanted with contraceptives. It is quick and easy and lasts for a few years. This can be a good option for larger populations and where the cost is a big factor. With these kind of situations, the animals need to have permanent ID so people know they have been done and are not done again.

If the ovaries and testicles are left, hormones are still at play even if the animal becomes sterile.
 

Troller

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Well yes hormones would still be involved, but how bad would it be? I know in an animals adolescents yes its terrible and I don't blame others for fixing the problem as such and probably do the same. But what mammals at adolescence isn't like that. What about over years, with maturity taking place and even getting acclimated whether by themselves or with another animal around of same or opposite gender.

Its just interesting to me that the practice of fixing is just accepted and its always the same way. Medically speaking when a person has an issue the doctor lists options (good and bad) and if your still undecided you go for a second opinion. Even with pets a medical issue is discussed with options. But if unwanted breeding or hormonal behavior comes up its fix and forget. The only option is don't and deal with the behavior.

Its strange, usually I'm the one in my house who's a little colder, ready to take the easier, logical path. My wife is more empathetic. Yet when it came time to fix, I questioned and thought about it while my wife (a registered nurse on top of it) just thought its what gets done and didn't really think on the matter. I wonder if as a society we've just come to accept the need to fix animals and since this is the way it's been done we never give thought to ways to do it better, or differ different.


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Korr_and_Sophie

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I do understand wanting to know as much as you can. When my dogs were puppies (some 10 years ago), they got spayed around 6 months and that was it. Now, if I were to get another puppy, I would really consider when to do it more and what is best for them. Since I would like to have a Newfoundland, the size is a concern about when to get it done.

Some things do make me wonder. We get pets altered, sometimes as early as possible and say things about cancer and hormones. But for people, no one would really consider getting pre teens 'spayed or neutered' as a good idea. There are benefits to the hormones. Cancer can still be as deadly, but it can also be treated. People do tend to be a bit more in control of their behaviour, but we still blame things on PMS.

A lot of the push to get pets altered is related to population control. Puppies and kittens are done at 8 weeks. There is no talk about what is right for the individual animal, it is about the general good.
 

missyscove

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Vet student here

With dogs there's a lot of discussion on when and even if to spay/neuter because while on the one hand spaying a female before her first heat drastically reduces her risk of mammary cancers, leaving dogs intact longer may have more beneficial effects on their bone growth and decrease future urinary issues. This is a decision that should be made between the owner and their veterinarian with most pets although in a shelter situation generally the approach is to spay/neuter as soon as possible and get the animals into an adoptable home.

There are definitely changes that occur in cats with early spay/neuter but they aren't really as drastic as with dogs. Males neutered earlier generally look more feminine as opposed to the typical broad head of the tom cat, but it also reduces spraying and roaming behaviors and that constant desire to find a mate and can make them less aggressive. The reproductive cycle of a female cat (queen) essentially means she's always either caring for her litter of kittens or desperately searching for someone to mate with. I can remember learning about it and thinking that being an unspayed female cat must be terrible.

In rabbits we really aren't as concerned about the effects of hormones on their growth, but we are concerned about reproductive cancers and behavioral issues. Admittedly I've never owned an unaltered rabbit (all 5 of the rabbits I've had were adopted already spayed/neutered) but my first rabbit did suffer from malignant mammary tumors which likely could have been prevented had she been spayed earlier in life.

Performing a spay/neuter part way is something that can be considered malpractice by some (e.g. removing only a descended testicle in a cryptorchid animal) in our profession. There are cases of vasectomies in dogs, but those too are questionable.
I'd encourage you to look into zinc neutering (zeutering) as an alternative now being used in dogs in the US that renders a male infertile and shrinks the testicles, but leaves them with some testosterone.

As far as humans go, that's much more of an ethical issue. In my IPE (interprofession education) class when we talked about breast cancer, mammary tumors in dogs came up. Our facilitator asked, if we can decrease the chance of a dog getting mammary tumors so much with an early spay, why aren't we doing that in humans and the answer was pretty simple, it isn't ethical for a parent to eliminate their child's reproductive potential before they've even hit puberty (at least not in an otherwise healthy child, it would be different if there was a disease or injury that was being cured with a hysterectomy or ovariohysterectomy). There are certainly humans with genetics that probably should not be passed on (I'm talking people who are carriers for certain diseases, etc) but that's really a decision that person has to make and not one society can make for them whereas in the animal breeding world it's the breeder's responsibility to ensure they are breeding negative traits out of their gene pool and doing their best to produce the highest quality animals.
 

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