The Spaying Issue
One of the current controversial issues in the world of pet rabbits is spaying. After reading this page, you may want to visitcommercial rabbit sites and rabbit lovers' sites to get more opinions on the issue.
Spaying Male (Buck) Rabbits
There is no controversy over spaying male or buck rabbits. This is a routine procedure and most vets will perform this operation for you. Once a buck is spayed, he will have a more mild temperament, he will be more affectionate and adjusted, he will no longer try to mate with other rabbits or objects, and he will no longer spray urine. Most importantly, he will be unable to impregnate a female (doe rabbit)--this is important if you ownmultiple rabbits and do not want any babies. Unlike unspayed bucks, spayed bucks can live with each other and with females. (For more information on owning multiple rabbits, see the multiple rabbits page.) Have your male rabbit spayed as early as possible; rabbits can not be spayed as babies so ask your vet when it is safe to have your buck spayed.
Spaying Female (Doe) Rabbits
The spaying controversy pertains to female or doe rabbits. Up until recently, the spaying of female rabbit was not a routine procedure--in fact, it still is not at most veterinary practices. However, recent studies have shown that unspayed females are at high risk for developing uterine cancer after a few years of life. Uterine cancer is deadly, and it could have been prevented entirely if the rabbit had been spayed. (For more information on the research of uterine cancer, use a search engine such aswww.google.com to find the articles that have been released on the subject.)
It seems as if the choice is now easy: pay to have your doe spayed and she will not develop uterine cancer. Also, she will not be able to become pregnant and her temperament will become milder. Nesting and pseudo-pregnancies will cease. Litter training is easier. Unfortunately, other problems remain when you decide to have your rabbit spayed.
First off, female rabbits--especially dwarfs and other small breeds--do not always take well to anesthesia. Some does will die before the operation even starts. Secondly, not many vets are experienced or even trained in the practice of spaying does.
If a vet is very experienced in spaying does, there is very little risk when the doe is being anesthetized. Your best bet is to find a very reputable, experienced vet who will perform this procedure for your doe. *IMPORTANT: when consulting a vet about spaying your doe, check to make sure that the procedure includes having the uterus removed. Some spaying procedures only include having the ovaries removed. If only the ovaries are removed, your doe is still at risk of developing uterine cancer.* The best way to find an experienced vet is to a) ask your family vet for a recommendation--most vets will gladly recommend another vet for a special procedure when they themselves are inexperienced with it--or b) visitcommercial rabbit sites for listings of vets in your area or c) join a rabbit discussion group and ask for an experienced vet in your area. I was lucky when I joined a the rabbits-r-us discussion group because someone in my area who owns a rabbit rescue was able to recommend a vet in my area who does doe spaying routinely.
In short, your female rabbit is better off being spayed because she will live longer and be healthier. Ask around or search the web for a vet who is experienced in performing this delicate operation. When meeting with the vet you have chosen, fell free to ASK QUESTIONS. Don't forget to ask whether or not the vet's spaying procedure includes having the uterus removed. If the vet says that the removal of the uterus is not in his routine spaying procedure, you should find another vet who will do this.
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