To spay or not to spay ... (seeking research)

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Even though I understand that spaying is recommended to reduce the risk of certain cancers I've been very hesitant to spay my 1 1/2 year-old rescue bunny due to the high cost and the risk of her dying in surgery.

In terms of cost, my own vet charges $1600 and the last time I checked the lowest cost rabbit-savvy vet near me was about $1000 including pre-surgery labs and exams. (I didn't qualify for subsidized vet care.)

Can anyone recommend high-quality, research-based information on the cancer risk to unspayed rabbits? I would also appreciate some clear-eyed information on the risk of the surgery itself. The tech at my vet's office tells me that their practice has only lost one rabbit during a surgery of any sort.

Thanks in advance!!!
 

Catlyn

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I couldn't find the forum threads that i read, but i managed to get the main links which i read when i was convincing my parents to get mine fixed:


1000 is really, really steep for a spay. I saw a thread on something along the lines of "how expensive was your buns' spay/neuter?" And the expensivest it got there was around 750 for a spay, the cheapest about 150. Most of these are from USA and the UK, and i don't know a lot about the average prices there, but i paid a total of 118 for Iris to get fixed, my bucks were always under 50. At barely over 6 months, she'd already developed early stages of reproductive cancer, barely avoided it by pushing her in for a spay sooner than the receptionist wanted. So unless your rabbit has health concerns, it would be highly advised to find a little bit cheaper savvy clinic for her, purely for her own health.
I read that about 80% of intact female rabbits will eventually develop reproductive cancer by the age of 5, and it it easily avoided with some early investment. Savvy vets seldom lose rabbits in surgery, and the benefits overweight the risks.
Also, spaying helps with territorial-aggressive behaviours, phantom pregnancies, litter habits, and to some degree, destructive behaviours. If you ever want to take her to a date at the shelters, she needs to be spayed beforehand.
Have you tried calling rabbit rescues or the humane societies to ask what vet they go to for their fixes? These vets are savvy and might cost less.
 
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Thanks for your thoughts, @Catlyn . When I called around last summer I couldn't find a rescue organization that would spay an "already rescued" rabbit or anyone who would provide spaying as a low cost service. The cheapest I could find was about $400 but that vet didn't seem to have any particular expertise with rabbits and I wasn't willing to take the risk.
 

John Wick

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For studies often cited regarding the high risk of uterine cancer, see the reference list here: BSAVA | Neutering of Rabbits

For information in the specifics of spaying, the risks, care, etc., please see here (and the various sections and links/sources referenced within): Spaying and neutering rabbits - WabbitWiki

The procedure itself is safe, as evident by the countless rabbits who go through the surgery successful with little to no complications and live healthy lives which are not impacted by having the procedure performed. While that is not "research on risk", in terms of an individual case, the risk of the procedure is most contingent on the experience of the vet and the health of that individual rabbit-- again, the procedure of spaying is known to be safe, so any incrementally added risks would stem from vet expertise, their team's expertise, and your rabbit's health.
 

JBun

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The 80% often cited is inexact. It's from an old study that showed certain breeds were more highly prone to developing uterine cancer as they aged. So how prone your rabbit might be just depends on your rabbits genetics. It is a higher risk possibility for female rabbits than male, and there's just no way to know how at risk each rabbit might be unless they are one of the breeds used in the studies that were done.


At that price, I think I would be looking to travel to find a more affordable, but also knowledgeable, rabbit vet. That price is INSANE! Highest cost neuter/spay I had done on a rabbit was about $400, and I thought that was a really steep cost.
 

Blue eyes

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When I called around last summer I couldn't find a rescue organization that would spay an "already rescued" rabbit or anyone who would provide spaying as a low cost service.
Rescues may not spay 'already rescued' rabbits, but they should be able to provide a vet reference for the vet that they regularly use. You could try checking his prices.
 
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