To Neuter or Not to Neuter, Now That IS a Question…

by DFS-Pet-Blog on March 7, 2011

Lionhead Rabbit**Guest post from Janet S.**

Recently, a coworker Ellen, introduced you all to our new lionhead rabbit named Bugsey. We adopted Bugsey from a shelter in a neighboring county, and being rabbit owners was new to all of us. I’ve owned dogs for my entire life and a cat for about six to seven years. The decision of whether or not to neuter or spay each of those seemed an easy decision to make, mainly because we got them from a shelter and they advised it. Also, it was pretty much a given in past pets for health issues.

Now a rabbit, this is a whole new ballgame. The shelter did not push us into neutering him, just casually mentioned it. Since we were not planning on having an “outdoor” rabbit running around or other rabbit pets, I originally did not think much of it. However, right when we got Bugsey, he would grunt at us when approaching his cage or nip when he wanted down. Two coworkers mentioned that being a male rabbit, it might be a good idea to neuter him. This started my quest of reading and studying.

I started to read about rabbits and the lionhead breed. I learned that a rabbit, depending on the breed, hits the “teenage years” between 4 and 8 months of age. . I was definitely thankful I have more than eight months to prepare for the teenage years in my kids! However, Bugsey was going to hit that very quickly!  I read that there is the potential that they may stop using their litter box if not fixed. When they are fixed, they are less prone to be destructive (chewing, digging), and less aggressive (growling, lunging, nipping). They also tend to be less likely to fight with other animals.

Having children ages six and nine (at the time), I definitely wanted to avoid any aggressive behavior and hoped for a loving, cuddly pet. We were working on the nipping behavior already and it was improving, but I was not fully confident in my rabbit training skills as a new owner.

Our cuddly fluff ball!

Our cuddly fluff ball!

Another concern was finding someone in our area that was familiar enough to neuter a rabbit. I did not want to explain to young children that something went wrong. I’ll admit it; I too was getting very attached to this fluff ball!

Finally, there was a cost concern. I was concerned about the cost to neuter, the cost of anesthetic and blood work, the cost if there were any items to purchase to aid in recovery.

I finally weighed the options and decided that I trusted the research telling me that neutered male rabbits may live longer, are much tamer, have less odor, and are less likely to spray urine. I decided to go for it. My first call was to the local vet where we have taken our dogs and cat. I was hoping he was familiar with rabbits. His vet technician answered the phone and was extremely helpful and reassuring. I asked her if they have ever neutered a rabbit. Many times was the reply, although not as often as cats of course. Next, I asked about the success rate. I was hoping the technician would not be offended or laugh. She was very courteous and stated that they have never lost a rabbit, but have to warn that there is risk with any procedure or going under anesthetic. That was fair enough, I thought, and very good so far. I then asked about costs and special considerations for rabbits. She was kind and mailed me a complete packet of information. Unfortunately, I now had a whole new set of decisions to weigh. Do I do laser surgery or regular surgery? Do I do a full panel of blood work or just the basics? I also wondered about the anesthetic itself and pain medications. Was this vet familiar with the difference in a rabbit or cat chemically and what they could handle? So, I placed another phone call.

If you are trying to make this decision, I really encourage you to feel free to talk through all your issues with your local veterinarian. On my second call, they were more than helpful again making me feel at ease and answering the questions.

I now learned that yes, they take different pain medications and dosages and have to watch anesthetic dosages. Also certain antibiotics can kill a rabbit. At this point, I felt comfortable with this vet clinic and scheduled the surgery. They answered all my questions about food and water at this point and recovery. I did not have to decide until surgery day on options, but chose regular surgery and the basic panel of blood work. I was told laser is often better for female pets as the surgery is more invasive, but male pets do well with either. I chose non-laser for the cost considerations. Since Bugsey was young and apparently healthy, I chose the basic blood work. If he was older or showed signs of anything unusual, I would have definitely picked more tests. The vet technician reassured me that I was not being a cruel owner by going with the cheaper methods; they were all good decisions for my pet. So now, we waited for the night before surgery.

(…to be continued…)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy March 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Hi, I use to have a rabbit named Groucho. I got him when he was very little. I also had cats and was planning on getting a dog when I bought my house. I have to tell you getting him neutered the best thing for both of us. He was very sweet and loving. He was an indoor rabbit, had a very large cage and would be let out to run the house once a day. Groucho would actually try and play with the cats. In the summer I would put up a wire dog fence outside and let Groucho run around on the grass. He was confined to the caged area and truly enjoyed his time in the sun. He was a very healthy rabbit that lived to 13 years old. I still miss him. BTW, don’t forget to cut his toenails. Good luck with your new family member.

Jill Butler March 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I had my male rabbit fixed at 6 months old, not just because I had a female rabbit who was also fixed, but because it prevents male spraying, prevents cancer and the do live longer. My Barrington is now 9 years old and he is calm, he has been an only bunny for 2 years now, sadly he has to be kept in the spare bedroom now since we own 2 whippet dogs who would use him as bait for coursing. Sorry I got off subject. Please spay and neuter your bunnies, they will be alot happier

gusguslover400 June 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Its ok to neutered .because if you ever get rid of it some people like to breed.i do not like breeding but in all farniss that how i got my guinea pig gusgus!

eevee February 9, 2017 at 8:52 pm

I have a lionhead male, about eleven months of age. i have put off neutering for as long as possible, as i am terrified of the death rates. he is quite tiny, and getting older so is this even safe?? i do plan on getting other bunnies, but if i do decide against neutering him, i will probably just keep them separately. has anyone got their lionhead neutered or have any suggestions??

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