PRE-OPERATIVE DESEXING INFORMATION

Rabbits & Guinea Pigs

In the case of rabbits and guinea pigs, ‘desexing’ refers to surgical sterilisation, and prevents animals from reproducing. It is a recommended procedure for all females, and most males, to reduce the risk of developing reproductive tumours later in life. For males, the testicles are removed through an incision in the skin or abdomen. For females, the reproductive organs are removed through a small incision in the abdomen. Please note: for both males and females, this procedure is irreversible.

Benefits of desexing: While the most common reasons for wanting to desex rabbits and guinea pigs is to prevent unwanted litters, there are many other benefits:

    Rabbits:

        • Males: undesexed males commonly develop unwanted behaviours such as urine spraying and aggression.
        • Females: up to 80% of undesexed female rabbits over 3 years of age will develop cervical cancer. This alone should be enough reason to desex your rabbit, but they are also prone to developing the same unwanted behaviours as males if not sterilised.


        Guinea Pigs:

              • Males: entire male guinea pigs (males) often develop faecal impaction, with many older males requiring regular cleaning to prevent constipation. Boars may also injure other pigs they are kept with, through biting and scratching. Desexing helps to reduce aggression and any associated bullying.
              • Females: if left undesexed, female guinea pigs are at risk of developing ovarian cysts. If one of these cysts burst, not only will it be incredibly painful – it may also be life-threatening.

          Ideal Age
          The ideal age depends on your rabbit or guinea pig’s breed, size, and whether desexing is being performed to prevent reproduction. While we will generally recommend desexing between 3-6 months of age, it is best to discuss your individual circumstances with your veterinarian.

          Before Surgery

            • Fasting: DO NOT FAST YOUR RABBIT OR GUINEA PIG! It is important that they have access to food and water right up until the time of surgery. Feel free to bring any of their favourite foods to encourage them to eat during their stay – we have an assortment of veggies available, but often it’s impossible to cater to all tastes!
            • Moral Support: If your rabbit or guinea pig is closely bonded with another animal (of the same species), we encourage owners to bring their friend along for moral support. Even if the friend isn’t having a procedure for the day, their presence can help to reduce stress before and after the procedure.
            • Blood Tests: Prior to anaesthesia, a veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination to ensure that your pet is well enough for the procedure, and that there are no new medical conditions that could complicate the procedure and compromise the health of your pet. There is always the possibility a physical exam alone will not identify all of your pets health problems. Prior to anaesthesia, a pre-anaesthetic blood test can be performed. Blood tests allow us to screen for illness, dehydration, infection, inflammation, and organ dysfunction – all of which may increase the risk of complications while under general anaesthesia if not addressed prior. More information about pre-anaesthetic blood testing can be found in our pre-operative surgery handout.
            • Vaccination and Parasite Control: We strongly recommend that rabbits are up to date with their calicivirus vaccination before their procedure – we do not want their safety, or the safety of other rabbit patients to be compromised in any way during their stay. If we have other rabbits in hospital and your rabbit is unvaccinated, we may have to reschedule your procedure, or keep your rabbit in the isolation ward for their stay at an additional cost. We also encourage owners to ensure that their pets are up to date on their parasite prevention when coming to stay with us. If you are unsure if their parasite prevention and/or vaccination is up to date, feel free to contact us prior to the procedure to confirm.

          The Day of Surgery

          Existing patients:
          On the day of surgery, an admission appointment with one of our nurses will be booked between 9am and 10am. This admission process will take a few minutes as you will be asked questions about your animal’s health and you will also be required to sign an anaesthetic consent form. This form describes that no anaesthetic or surgical procedure is without some risk to the patient. Every care is taken to ensure the health and safety of your pet- it is our first priority- however, we would be irresponsible not to inform you of the risks involved. If you are uneasy about this procedure or the complications that may arise please contact us for more information. We are here to help.

          New patients:
          A consultation with one of our exotics vets will be scheduled prior to the procedure. Please note that this incurs a consultation fee, and is not included in the price of desexing.

          During your pet’s first consultation, we will review nutrition, husbandry, behaviour and training, parasite control, common signs of illness, and perform a thorough physical examination.

          Fees
          All fees and costs must be paid for before your pet is discharged – in most cases, the day after surgery.

          Spey (female desexing) – $600

          Castrate (male desexing) – $400

           

          Recovering from Surgery
          In almost all cases, we keep rabbits and guinea pigs in hospital for the night. This is to ensure that they are comfortable and eating well before being discharged. Gut stasis is one of the most common post-operative complications, so we monitor all rabbits and guinea pigs closely for 24 hours post-operatively. During their stay, we will also administer critical care feeds every 4 hours (excluding the time when we are closed overnight), and top up their pain relief as needed. If we note any signs of early gut stasis, we may also prescribe additional medications, or recommend that they stay with us for another night. Of course, we will keep you updated every step of the way, and ensure that you receive plenty of photo updates!

          Discharge
          Discharge instructions will be emailed to you, and one of our veterinary nurses will be available to answer any questions about post-operative care upon discharge. We will also teach you how to administer post-operative pain relief at home, and will ensure that you are comfortable nursing them at home during their recovery.

          During your discharge consultation, the nurse will book a follow-up appointment to check on your pet’s wound 10 days after surgery. If you get home and you have any concerns regarding your pet please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

          Pet Pick Up
          When you pick your pet, they should be acting normally. If after arriving home, you are concerned that they are not quite right, please contact us for further advice. It is important that they are kept quiet, warm and comfortable during their recovery (7-10 days), and it is crucial that owners monitor their appetite and faecal output during the recovery period. Gut stasis can quickly become life threatening, so if you notice that your pet is not eating or defecating normally, please seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.