Caring For a Rabbit Before and After Neuter or Spay Surgery

Bringing home a furry little bunny friend? Wait – make that two! Rabbits are incredibly social animals who thrive when paired up, so consider adopting your pet rabbit a buddy. But there’s a process to bond rabbits successfully so they can become lifelong friends. From first dates in neutral spaces to techniques for facilitating positive interactions, our complete guide covers everything you need to know before and after saying “I do!” to creating a harmonious rabbit duo. With some patience and planning, you’ll help your rabbits seal the deal. We’ll walk you through how to set the stage for a loving relationship that leads to nose nudges and snuggles between your new soulmates. Get ready to witness a beautiful bunny friendship blossom right before your eyes!

Finding a veterinarian for your rabbit

It is important to find an experienced rabbit veterinarian to perform your rabbit's spay or neuter surgery. Rabbits have unique anatomical and physiological differences from cats and dogs, so a vet that specializes in rabbits is best. Ask your current vet if they perform a lot of rabbit surgeries or can recommend a vet who does. You can also check directories like the House Rabbit Society to find recommended rabbit vets in your area. Meet with or interview potential vets to make sure you feel comfortable with their experience and knowledge regarding rabbit care. Discuss the specific surgery plan, pain management, and aftercare recommendations. Make sure you find a vet you trust before your rabbit's big day.

Preparations before a spay or neuter surgery

There are several things you should do to prepare your home and your rabbit before a spay or neuter surgery. Try to keep your rabbit's schedule and environment consistent leading up to the surgery to minimize stress. Make sure your rabbit is eating normally and maintaining a healthy diet. Clean and disinfect your rabbit's housing a few days before surgery to optimize hygiene. Acquire an Elizabethan collar if your vet recommends one to prevent chewing or licking the incision site. Set up a quiet recovery space where your rabbit can rest comfortably for a few days after the procedure. It may help to set up a small pen or confined area with easily accessible food, water, litter box, and hiding spots. Follow any specific preparatory instructions from your veterinarian such as when to stop feeding your rabbit before surgery. Stay calm and offer comfort and affection to help keep your rabbit relaxed in the days and hours before the spay or neuter surgery.


The cost of spaying or neutering a rabbit can range quite a bit depending on your location and veterinarian, but typically runs $150-$600. Spays tend to cost more than neuters. Additional costs may apply if you choose pre-surgical bloodwork, anesthesia monitoring, pain medication to go home, an e-collar, or other options. Be sure to discuss all associated costs with your vet beforehand so you know what to expect. Some low cost spay/neuter clinics or mobile services offer discounted rates if cost is a concern. Pet health insurance or CareCredit may help cover some surgical expenses as well. While not inexpensive, spaying or neutering is considered very important preventative care to protect your rabbit's long-term health and quality of life.

Feeding your rabbit

Proper nutrition is important both before and after your rabbit's surgery. Leading up to the procedure, continue offering your rabbit's normal diet to keep the digestive system functioning smoothly. Provide unlimited grass hay – Timothy or orchard varieties are best. Feed your rabbit's regular portions of leafy greens and pellets as well. Limit sugary fruits or treats. Always give fresh water. If instructed to fast your rabbit before surgery, remove pellets and greens for the recommended time but leave hay. After surgery, alfalfa hay and enticing fresh greens may stimulate appetite if your rabbit is reluctant to eat. Avoid sudden diet changes. Call your vet if poor intake lasts more than 12 hours after surgery. Monitor eating, drinking, and bowel movements closely as you get back to a normal feeding routine.

What to expect from the spay or neuter surgery

Spays and neuters are routine surgeries, but always involve risks when anesthesia is used. What to expect:

  • Your vet will review pre-surgery instructions for withholding food and water. Follow these carefully.
  • At the clinic, a vet tech will take a medical history and check your rabbit's vitals. Bloodwork may be recommended.
  • Anesthesia will be administered via injection or face mask. Your rabbit will fall asleep quickly.
  • The surgeon will make an incision into the abdomen (spay) or scrotum (neuter). Reproductive organs and tissue will be removed.
  • The incisions will be closed with dissolvable sutures, skin glue, or stitches depending on your vet's protocol.
  • Your rabbit will be closely monitored until fully awake and stable after anesthesia.
  • You'll receive discharge instructions for home care and a recheck appointment timeframe.
  • The surgery generally takes 45-90 minutes from start to finish. Same day discharge is typical but overnight stays are sometimes necessary.

Plan for a single day surgery

Spays and neuters are almost always performed as outpatient day procedures meaning your rabbit goes home the same day. Exceptions may include very young or senior rabbits, complicated surgeries, or significant health concerns that warrant monitoring overnight. But for most healthy adult rabbits, surgery in the morning and discharge by late afternoon is standard. This avoids unnecessary stress from an overnight kennel stay. Plan your schedule so you can drop your rabbit off first thing in the morning then pick up at day's end. Allow flexibility in case discharge gets delayed. Have supplies ready at home to make your rabbit comfortable for recovery. Keep the day peaceful and stick close to home to supervise your post-surgery bunny for the first 24 hours.

Bring some of your rabbit's regular pellets

It can be helpful to bring some of the pellet food your rabbit eats at home to the vet clinic on the day of surgery. After anesthesia, rabbits often won't immediately eat anything unfamiliar but will nibble their regular pellets. Having a bag handy means your rabbit can get some nutrition right after waking up, which speeds recovery. Check with your vet first to make sure they approve you bringing pellets. Let staff know the pellets are there to encourage eating after the procedure. Don't bring greens or treats – just the plain pellets your rabbit is accustomed to. A few mouthfuls after surgery can make a real difference.

The risk of surgery

Any surgery requiring anesthesia does carry inherent risks, including the small possibility of serious complications or death. However, spays and neuters are very common procedures rabbits tolerate quite well. Your vet will take steps to minimize risks like:

  • Choosing appropriate anesthesia and monitoring vitals.
  • Performing a thorough physical exam beforehand to detect any concerns.
  • Requiring pre-surgical bloodwork for older or sick rabbits.
  • Monitoring your rabbit closely until fully recovered from anesthesia.
  • Providing pain control medication.
  • Sending you home with detailed post-op instructions.

Millions of rabbit spays and neuters are performed safely every year. Be sure to follow your vet's directions carefully, both before and after surgery, to support your bunny's recovery.

A follow-up visit

Your vet will want to see your rabbit a few days after the surgery to make sure incisions are healing properly and there are no complications. Sometimes an additional recheck is recommended 10-14 days out. Follow your vet's recommendations for when to schedule follow up appointments – they are important to verify your rabbit is recovering well. Bring your rabbit into the clinic rather than just calling with an update. The vet will do an examination to check the surgical sites, watch for signs of pain or infection, and ensure your rabbit is eating, drinking, pooping, and peeing normally after the procedure. Follow up visits provide peace of mind that spay or neuter surgery went smoothly.

Care after a spay and neuter surgery

Caring for your rabbit in the days and weeks after a spay or neuter procedure is crucial to an uncomplicated recovery. Be vigilant about monitoring your bunny closely, following post-op instructions, and supporting healing during this period. While your vet will provide detailed discharge information, here are some general guidelines for aftercare:

Keep your rabbit warm and comfortable

Your rabbit may be groggy, weak, or uncoordinated immediately after surgery. Provide a safe confined space with soft blankets where your bunny can recover without injury. Keep the environment peaceful, quiet, calm. Monitor the temperature – rabbits cannot adjust to extremes of hot or cold after anesthesia. Protect from drafts. Recovering rabbits appreciate a stuffed animal companion for comfort.

Behavior expectations after surgery

Personality and activity level often change right after surgery. Your formerly energetic bunny may sleep excessively or seem depressed. Surgery is taxing on the body. Appetite may be reduced at first. Lethargy, inactivity, and decreased bowel movements are common initially but should improve steadily within 24-48 hours. If not, contact your vet. Reassure your rabbit with gentle petting and speaking. Avoid forcing interaction if your rabbit seems distressed. Let your bunny rest as needed.

Pain medication

Follow your vet's recommendations for administering prescribed pain medication exactly as directed. This ensures your rabbit's incision heals comfortably. Never give over-the-counter human pain relievers – they can be toxic to rabbits. Metacam or other NSAID drugs are commonly prescribed. Use the full course even if your rabbit seems fine. Signs of pain include reduced activity, hunched posture, lack of grooming, tooth grinding, decreased appetite, and aggression. Call your vet if you suspect discomfort. Additional or longer duration pain relief may be advised.

Feeding your rabbit after surgery

Proper nutrition supports healing after any surgery. Keep freshly topped off hay available at all times. Hand feed if needed. Try wetting pellets to soften them. Offer aromatic herbs or leafy greens to stimulate appetite – cilantro, parsley, and basil work well. Provide your rabbit's favorite healthy treats. Call the vet if eating and drinking do not return to normal within 12-24 hours. Do not radically change the diet or suddenly add sugary fruits and vegetables. Consistency is key. Hydration is critical, so monitor urine and stool output closely.

Avoid excessive handling

It’s important to minimize stress and excessive activity during at least the first 2 weeks post-surgery. Check on your rabbit frequently but allow rest between interactions. Do not place your rabbit into situations that could lead to sudden movements, rowdy behavior, or jumping. Carry your bunny carefully supporting the full body, not just the rear legs. No hard play or roughhousing with other pets. Supervise closely any activity outside of the recovery space. Follow all restrictions from your vet, which commonly include 2 weeks of strict cage rest.

What to expect after a female rabbit is spayed

Spay surgery removes the uterus and ovaries of a female rabbit through an abdominal incision. Here's what to expect after the procedure:

  • Appetite may be reduced for 12-24 hours after surgery. Encourage eating with fresh, aromatic greens.

  • Activity level will be decreased initially. Provide ample space for rest and recovery.

  • Check the abdominal incision twice daily. Look for redness, swelling, discharge or openings.

  • Dissolvable sutures disappear within 2-4 weeks. Non-dissolvable sutures or skin glue need removal by your vet at a follow up visit.

  • Personality changes like increased affection or litter box habits may be noticed as hormones dissipate.

  • Fur around the surgery site will take up to 6 weeks to regrow. No need to shave surrounding hair preemptively.

  • By 2-4 weeks, most rabbits use litter habits normally and show interest in playing again. Call your vet if this timeline seems delayed.

  • Lifelong health perks include almost zero risk of reproductive cancers and infections later in life.

Follow all your vet’s additional instructions carefully during the weeks following your rabbit’s spay surgery. Notify them immediately about any concerns for your bunny's recovery.

What to expect after a male rabbit is neutered

Neutering surgery removes the testicles and part of the epididymis through an incision into the scrotum. Here is what to expect after your male rabbit is neutered:

  • Swelling and bruising around the surgery site is common and should subside within 1-2 weeks.

  • Check the incision twice daily for signs of infection like redness, heat, discharge or opening.

  • Your rabbit may be reluctant to move around normally due to discomfort for 2-5 days. Encourage activity in small increments.

  • Appetite should return to normal within 24 hours. Tempt your bunny to eat with fresh herbs and wet pellets.

  • Absorbable sutures disappear over 2-4 weeks. Non-absorbable sutures or tissue glue need removal at follow up appointment.

  • Personality changes are common as hormones drop – your bunny may become more docile and affectionate.

  • Litter habits typically return to normal within a few days, sometimes with less marking and spraying.

  • Within 2 weeks, neuter incisions are usually healed well and most rabbits resume normal activity levels.

Always follow all aftercare instructions from your veterinarian, and schedule recommended recheck exams for your neutered rabbit. Alert your vet to any concerns.

Post-surgery concerns

While most rabbits recover uneventfully from spays and neuters, it’s important to watch for any abnormal warning signs after surgery. Alert your vet immediately if you notice:

  • Loss of appetite beyond 24 hours

  • No stool production in over 12 hours

  • Straining or difficulty urinating

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or bloating

  • Discharge, swelling, or opening of the incision site

  • Lethargy, depression, or ataxia more than 24 hours after surgery

  • Hiding, grinding teeth, aggression, or other signs of pain

  • Bleeding or fluid leakage from the incision.

  • Fever higher than 103 F

Your rabbit should steadily improve each day after surgery. Regression or new symptoms likely signal a complication requiring prompt veterinary attention. Don’t delay contacting your vet.

How long does it take for rabbits to recover from anesthesia?

The effects of anesthesia usually wear off within 1-3 hours, but the recovery process extends well beyond that. It takes about 24 hours for the anesthetic drugs to fully leave the body. For the next several days, some grogginess, reduced activity levels and appetite may persist. Rabbits are typically back to normal behavior by 2 weeks post-op, though healing continues over the next few months. Young, healthy rabbits bounce back more quickly. The elderly or those with health issues may have a more prolonged recovery. Follow all restrictions from your vet, and reach out immediately if your bunny's recuperation seems abnormal. With proper aftercare, your rabbit will be healed and happily back to normal before you know it!

What if your rabbit isn't eating or pooping?

It's common for rabbits to eat and poop a little less than usual in the first 24 hours after spay or neuter surgery. But if your bunny shows no interest in food or produces no stools for 12 hours or longer, contact your vet without delay. Anorexia and GI stasis after surgery require urgent medical attention. To encourage eating, offer aromatic herbs and greens or try syringe feeding small amounts of critical care food. Give snacks your rabbit loves, try hand feeding pellets, or add water to soften dry food. Promote gut motility by lightly massaging the abdomen and providing plenty of fluids. Move your rabbit minimally to avoid pain and stress. Seek prompt veterinary treatment, as delayed eating and pooping can quickly become life threatening for rabbits. Don't wait – call your vet right away if your post-op bunny stops eating or having bowel movements.

Check on the surgery incision

Check your rabbit's surgery incision at least twice daily for the first two weeks after the procedure. Look for any signs of potential problems:

  • Bleeding, fluid leakage or oozing from the incision

  • Opening or gapping of the incision line

  • Missing sutures

  • Redness, swelling and heat around the incision

  • Discharge – yellow/green pus or foul odor

  • Surrounding skin becoming dark/black

  • Abscess – pocket of pus under the skin

  • Bunny is excessively bothering or licking at the site

Your vet will let you know when sutures or skin glue should be removed, usually 10-14 days post-op. Avoid getting incisions wet. Contact your vet immediately about any questionable incision findings so prompt treatment can be provided if needed. Careful incision monitoring is crucial to proper healing after a spay or neuter surgery.

When to use and e-collar

Elizabethan collars prevent rabbits from excessively chewing or licking at surgery sites before incisions fully heal. They are commonly recommended for 10-14 days after a spay or neuter surgery. Use if:

  • Your rabbit obsessively mouth or paw at the incision

  • Any discharge, opening or gapping of incision occurs

  • Your bunny can reach the surgery site to chew at it

  • Your rabbit had issues with self-mutilation before

Custom e-collars are more comfortable but disposable plastic versions work too. Ensure collars are properly fitted to allow unhindered eating, drinking and litter habits. Monitor to avoid neck sores. Remove periodically for short breaks under supervision. An e-collar is advisable any time a rabbit risks disturbing healing incisions through self-trauma.

Preventing surprise baby bunnies

It takes 4-6 weeks after spay/neuter surgery for rabbits to become infertile. Use caution until you know the procedure was definitely successful. Do not bond your rabbit with unfixed opposite sex partners during this period or accidental litters could still happen. Monitor closely for nesting, territorial and mounting behaviors that may continue even if parts were removed. Separate the genitals physically to be absolutely sure no breeding occurs if fertility timelines overlap. Only allow unsupervised interactions once your vet confirms your rabbit's spay/neuter surgery was successful and hormones have tapered off fully.

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