Rabbit Spay/Neuter

The Spay and Neuter Clinic at the Seattle Animal Shelter provides spay and neuter surgery for rabbits. Call to schedule your appoinment 206-386-4260.

Before Booking your Appointment

  • All rabbits must weigh 2 pounds or more—no exceptions.
  • Male rabbits must be 3 months or older. 
  • Female rabbits must be 4 months or older.
  • Rabbits over 5 years old will be accepted for surgery, but you must have proof of a health exam with no concerns noted within the last six months. A copy of this health exam may be requested.

Rabbit Spay and Neuter Instructions

Pre-Surgery Instructions

It is important for rabbits to eat before surgery. Rabbits need not and should not be fasted. You should bring healthy food items that they normally eat and like to eat in your rabbit carrier.

It is important for rabbits to eat immediately after surgery. That is why we are asking you to pack an afternoon snack for your rabbit. This should include VERY appetizing, nutritious vegetables such as carrot tops (not the orange part which is sweet enough in rabbit nutrition to rate as a fruit) and dandelion greens. Things that don't qualify as very appetizing and nutritious include romaine and head lettuces, pellets and grasses. You may also bring along a small handful of your bunny's favorite hay. Keep the hay in a bag so the hay doesn't escape all over.

If your bunny is bonded to another rabbit, post-op recovery will go better if that rabbit tags along to the Clinic. There are a couple of reasons for this: the first is to provide moral support; and the second is to help prevent post-operative social rejection, which can sometimes be violent. Hospitals smell different than home. If one bunny comes home smelling like a hospital, his/her own best bunny friend may not recognize him and attack him as if he were a stranger.

Transporting your rabbit

We will keep your bunny safe and secure while at our Clinic. We want to make sure your bunny is safe and secure during the trip here. To assure this you must transport your rabbit(s) in an appropriate transport carrier. This will be your bunny's home while at the Clinic. The wrong carrier can lead to disaster on the way to the Clinic if your rabbit escapes in the car. 

The carrier must have both a front opening AND a top opening. The carrier must be the right size, not too big nor too small. It should be big enough so we can lay your bunny down in it after surgery without being all scrunched up. 

To keep the journey as stress-free as possible, make sure there is padding inside the carrier and a cover or towel over the outside to keep out the rain and cold while still allowing plenty of ventilation.

We recommend that you visit the following website for a full discussion of transport carriers for rabbits: http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Transport/Carrier/Carrier.htm

If you need to borrow this type of carrier, Rabbit Meadows has offered to provide one. You may contact Rabbit Meadows at 206-365-9105 or info@RabbitMeadows.org.

An even more thorough discussion of transporting and handling rabbits can be found in the following book:

Transport, Restraint and Manipulation of Rabbits
Esther van Praag and Amir Maurer
ed: Tal Saarony and Debbie Hanson

Post-Surgery Instructions for Female Rabbits

Your rabbit has just been spayed. At the start she received a combination of injectable and gas anesthetics to induce sleep. A combination of long-lasting analgesics was given preemptively to prevent any pain. An incision was made through the skin and abdominal wall (into the abdominal cavity), and the four points where the ovaries and two uterine horns attach were tied off, cut and removed. The procedure is called an ovario-hysterectomy. Because of the seriousness of the operation, your rabbit requires and deserves proper care and observation for the next several days. 

  • When you bring your rabbit home on the day of surgery she will be feeling the effects of the anesthetic. Her eyes will have a protective ointment on them and she may not be able to see well. She may be feeling a little unhappy and disoriented by her trip to the hospital. While it is tempting to console her by petting or cuddling it is best to just leave her alone. It is important this first day that you confine her and disturb her as little as possible. This is equivalent to the strict bed rest you would get in the hospital if you had had surgery. Keep her away from all other animals and children. The exception is if she is part of a bonded pair or group. Most bunnies know when to rest and not push it too much. She should return to her normal self in a few days.
  • If your bunny is part of a bonded pair or groups, she should not be separated from her pal(s). As long as these bunnies play nicely, they may stay with each other. If they do not play calmly, are being too rough or are mounting, they will need to be separated.  Even then they must be able to see, hear, smell and touch each other.
  • This first night especially make sure your bunny is kept warm (but not hot) while indoors.
  • Food is a must the day of surgery—in fact it is critical that she begin and continue eating. Rabbit experts say that bunnies prefer healthy foods such as fresh greens and hay while they are recovering from surgery. Bunnies also seem to like fragrant herbs such as basil, parsley, dill and mint during this recovery period. You should encourage your rabbit to eat by offering a tempting array of things that are good to eat.
  • Water should always be available for your bunny. Even if she is used to a sipper bottle, she may not use it if it is too much work for her. During this initial recovery period also provide your rabbit with a heavy ceramic bowl for water.
  • Your rabbit will need to be confined indoors for at least seven days following surgery and kept as quiet as possible. Too much activity too soon will disrupt the healing process and can lead to swelling and/or the formation of a fluid pocket under the incision. If a fluid pocket does form, it should go away on its own in a few weeks.
  • Observe the incision daily. Make sure she has not reopened the incision by chewing or scratching at it. You may notice a small amount of redness and firm swelling. This is normal and usually resolves in a few weeks. Rabbits often react this way to internal sutures. Any drainage or bleeding or excessively large swelling is not normal and should be reported to the Clinic.
  • Avoid getting the incision wet for at least eight days.
  • If your rabbit was pregnant at the time of surgery, it may take her longer to recuperate. She may be slightly anemic and run down. To help her recover as quickly as possible continue to allow her access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water and quality rabbit food for the next several days.
  • You should observe her fecal pellets for signs of trouble. For the first one-two days after surgery it is not unusual for the pellets to be soft or mucus-covered. If this persists after day two, you should see your regular veterinarian immediately. Slowed or no fecal output may indicate an uncommon but serious post-surgical complication. Emergency information about this condition may be found on the House Rabbit Society website (www.rabbit.org) and by searching for Gastrointestinal Stasis: The Silent Killer.
  • We use "buried sutures" in rabbits. This technique requires no removal of the sutures. They are buried beneath the surface of the skin and will dissolve on their own.
  • Keep your rabbit's surgery report as verification that she has been spayed.
  • If a problem should develop, contact us immediately. If the Clinic is closed, contact your private veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic near you (these are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Veterinary Hospitals").

We anticipate that your rabbit will have a normal, uneventful recovery. If you have any questions regarding her progress, please call us at 206-386-4260.

Good information on rabbit care may be found at the House Rabbit Society website:  www.rabbit.org.

Post-Surgery Instructions for Male Rabbits

Your rabbit has just been neutered. At the start he received a combination of injectable and gas anesthetics to induce sleep. A combination of long-lasting analgesics was given preemptively to prevent any pain. He also was given an antibiotic. An incision was made just in front of the scrotum and the testicles were removed. The blood vessels supplying the testicles and other tissues were then tied off to prevent excessive bleeding and the incision was closed. While this is a relatively simple surgical procedure, your rabbit requires and deserves proper care and observation for the next several days. 

  • When you bring your rabbit home on the day of surgery he will be feeling the effects of the anesthetic. His eyes will have a protective ointment on them and he may not be able to see well. He may be feeling a little unhappy and disoriented by his trip to the hospital. While it is tempting to console him by petting or cuddling, it is best to just leave him alone. It is important this first day that you confine him and disturb him as little as possible. This is equivalent to the strict bed rest you would get in the hospital if you had had surgery. Keep him away from all other animals and children. The exception is if he is part of a bonded pair or group. Most bunnies know when to rest and not push it too much. He should return to his normal self in a few days.
  • If your bunny is part of a bonded pair or group, he should not be separated from his pal(s). As long as these bunnies play nicely, they may stay with each other. If they do not play calmly, are being too rough or are mounting, they will need to be separated. Even then they must be able to see, hear, smell and touch each other. 
  • This first night especially make sure he is kept warm (but not hot).
  • Food is a must the day of surgery—in fact it is critical that he begin and continue eating. Rabbit experts say that bunnies prefer healthy foods such as fresh greens and hay while they are recovering from surgery. Bunnies also seem to like fragrant herbs such as basil, parsley, dill and mint during this recovery period. You should encourage your rabbit to eat by offering a tempting array of things that are good to eat.
  • Water should always be available for your bunny. Even if he is used to a sipper bottle, he may not use it if it is too much work for him. During this initial recovery period also provide your rabbit with a heavy ceramic bowl for water.
  • Your rabbit will need to be confined indoors for at least seven days following surgery and kept as quiet as possible. Too much activity too soon will disrupt the healing process and can lead to swelling and/or the formation of a fluid pocket under the incision. If a fluid pocket does form, it should go away on its own in a few weeks.
  • Observe the incision daily. Make sure he has not reopened the incision by chewing or scratching at it. You may notice a small amount of redness and firm swelling. This is normal and usually resolves in a few weeks. Rabbits often react this way to internal sutures. Any drainage or bleeding or excessively large swelling is not normal and should be reported to the Clinic.
  • You should observe his fecal pellets for signs of trouble. For the first one-two days after surgery it is not unusual for the pellets to be soft or mucus-covered. If this persists after day two, you should see your regular veterinarian immediately. Slowed or no fecal output may indicate an uncommon but serious post-surgical complication. Emergency information about this condition may be found on the House Rabbit Society website (www.rabbit.org) and by searching for Gastrointestinal Stasis: The Silent Killer.
  • Keep this male bunny away from an intact female bunny for a minimum of four weeks. Male rabbits have viable sperm for several weeks after neutering.
  • Avoid getting the incision wet for at least eight days.
  • We use "buried sutures" in rabbits. This technique requires no removal of the sutures. They are buried beneath the surface of the skin and will dissolve on their own.
  • Keep your rabbit's surgery report as verification that he has been neutered. 
  • If a problem should develop, contact us immediately. If the Clinic is closed, contact your private veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic near you (these are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Veterinary Hospitals").

We anticipate that your rabbit will have a normal, uneventful recovery. If you have any questions regarding his progress, please call us at 206-386-4260.

Good information on rabbit care may be found at the House Rabbit Society website:  www.rabbit.org.