Many people know the health benefits and importance of spaying or neutering dogs and cats, but did you know it is just as important to spay or neuter a pet rabbit? Not only will it prevent pregnancy (since many times there are male and female rabbits in the same household), but it also helps to prevent future diseases.
Spaying a female rabbit helps to prevent uterine cancer. This can be vital since the rate of uterine cancer in older unspayed rabbits is up to 80%. Spaying also prevents other uterine diseases, such as pyometra (an infection that causes the uterus to fill with pus) and endometritis (painful inflammation of the uterine lining). Spaying can also help prevent mammary gland cancer (breast cancer) in females.
In male rabbits, neutering will prevent testicular diseases, such as cancer, abscesses, or hematomas (blood clots).
In both sexes, neutering or spaying can help alleviate undesirable or aggressive behaviors. When rabbits reach sexual maturity, previously docile pets can display aggressive and/or destructive behaviors. This is their instinct to protect future families and territory. They may also show a behavior called “urine spraying,” urinating on vertical surfaces to mark their territory. Intact male rabbits can have an especially strong odor to their urine.
Young rabbits should be spayed or neutered between 4 months and 2 years of age, just before or after sexual maturity. Different breeds may mature at different ages, smaller breeds at approximately 4-6 months old and giant breeds at approximately 9 months old.
Your rabbit must be in good health prior to any anesthesia or surgery, so please bring him/her to your veterinarian for a complete physical examination first.
Bethanne Lokuta, DVM