Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spay/Neuter your rabbit?

There's some controversy in the rabbit world as to whether people should spay or neuter their rabbit.  and finding information is indeed a challenge.

If one chooses to believe the house rabbit society people, spay/neuter will
  1. solve all behavioural problems with your rabbit
  2. have your rabbit live a longer life
  3. makes your rabbit healthier
  4. means no contribution to pet over population
  5. makes it easier to give them a companion
  6. Removes all risk of ovarian and testicular cancer.
So let's talk about these points one by one

1. solve all behavioural issues with your rabbit
  • says who?   What studies have been done?  is this merely anecdotal?  or just one person/group saying it and then it just gets passed around as fact?
  • Spay/neuter can solve hormonally related issues IF done properly.
    • I learned about a month or so ago that there are a couple ways to spay a rabbit.   The safe way, and the more technically risky way.   The safe way makes for an easier surgery for the rabbit but leaves some of the reproductive system intact.   The riskier way removes all the reproductive system but is a harder surgery for the surgeon as well as the patient.
  • Some rabbit behaviour becomes very ingrained and can be difficult to eradicate.   Sometimes rabbits can be worked with and retrained to act in more appropriate ways, but sometimes those behaviours are such a part of a rabbit that trying to change them just isn't going to happen.
  • So doing the simple spay/neuter isn't automatically going to fix your rabbit's behaviour.  It can help, but won't necessarily solve all the issues.
2. Have your rabbit live a longer life?
  • I read this and think to myself... MOST pet rabbits I know of.. live at the most 7 years or so.   I've had one person come and tell me that they lost their beloved pet after 10 years, but most say anywhere from 2-7 years.  
  • What does that say about Jack.  a harlequin rabbit, used as a breeder up until 4 months before his death at age almost 12?
  • So then my query remains... how does a spay/neuter make an animal live longer?   It simply doesn't make any sense to me.
3. Makes your rabbit healthier?
  • how does removing body parts make an animal healthier.
  • I've learned that God has made bodies wonderfully intricate.  Hormones can balance each other out.  NOW.. can we live without certain hormones?  For we can(so can the rabbit).   and if hormones are causing an animal to act out in ways unbecoming and you nip it in the bud before it becomes a habit then I don't have an issue with folks spaying/neutering their animals.   but I do want to raise the awareness that sometimes if you mess with an animal.. sometimes it can backfire with other hormonal issues.
  • But women who have a hysterectomy need to be careful to monitor their bone density and how their body is reacting to less estrogen in their systems.  So it makes me wonder if God put that into animals as well?
  • could potentially remove the risk of ovarian cancer...hmm... tell that to the owner of a 2 year old spayed female rabbit who lost her companion animal to ... get this.. ovarian cancer.    And who goes around removing body parts because of a potential risk of cancer which has been proven to exist in all rabbits...the older they get, the higher the chances are of contracting it... kinda like with people eh?  the older you get, the more likely you are to get cancer...people don't generally remove body parts to prevent getting cancer....though some might but they are the exception not the rule.
4.means no contribution to over pet population
  • VERY TRUE.  A properly spayed/neutered animal CANNOT have babies.
  • Interesting how this past winter I ended a rabbit life (a very ill tempered brute who bit first and asked questions later) who had been neutered by a reputable vet...but this rabbit still had a testicle.  So mistakes in life happen.
  • now linking this to over pet population?   WHAT RABBIT Over pet population?
    • seriously.  There is no pet overpopulation.  Go to any shelter.  Count how many rabbits there are.  Count how many other small animals there are.   
    • Non-kill shelters can generally always find homes for their clientele.   Pets are shipped from one area to another.   If there was an over pet population problem animals would be shipped from Germany to the USA, or from the USA to Canada, or anywhere.  There would simply be TOO many animals around to do that.
    • there are so many cats/dogs/small animals available...but not enough for the homes wanting them.   So they are shifted from one locale to another.. makes you wonder how many of them are being counted twice?
    • Go here to read more.   or even over here
5. Makes it easier to give them a companion.
  • I can't argue with this one.   Because quite frankly it does make it easier to find them a companion.
  • but it doesn't negate the fact that your rabbit is an individual and not all individuals will get along with everyone else.  They simply won't.
  • a rabbit rescue friend of mine went through three bunnies trying to find a companion to her dominant SPAYED female rabbit.  Finally found one.  YEAH!   
  • So it's something to keep in mind.
CONS to getting your rabbit neutered/Spayed. 
Folks don't like to talk about these but
  1. it's not cheap.   Rabbits are considered exotics.   Exotic animal care costs more to vet.   It would be helpful if more vets offered spay/neuter days to rabbits.
  2. it's best/safest done on younger animals (so between 4-12 months of age)
  3. surgery is ALWAYS a risk.  Rabbits don't handle anesthetic well.  AND if it goes poorly you are still stuck with the bill
  4. may not solve your particular behaviour issue.  So you need to understand what your rabbit is doing and WHY it is doing it.  
  5. you are taking away an integral part of your rabbits anatomy.
  6.  it is often used as a quick and easy solution to a problem which with creative thinking and doing things differently might not be required.

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