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Thread: Any arguments against spaying?

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    Default Any arguments against spaying?

    Dear Lagomorphologists,

    The majority of rabbit owners seem to be in favour of having female rabbits spayed but, in the interest of having a balanced view, I was wondering if anybody is against the idea.

    Here's our situation it a nutshell: we have Willow, a 7 month old unspayed doe living in the garden next to Charlie, a castrated 2-year old buck. In general, I have no particular issues with Willow as she is. She is healthy, friendly and tidy. Both she and her companion have a decent amount of space, 24/7 access to grass and they both seem fairly happy, apart from one thing: at the moment they can't live together. Basically, whenever I have tried to let them near each other, Willow wanted Charlie to mate with her (this is fairly obvious from her behaviour) but of course Charlie wasn't interested. So they ended up with Willow pestering Charlie, Charlie getting fed up and biting her, then the situation escalated and so I separated them.

    So they live parallel lives, side-by-side, a few inches apart in separate runs. They definitely find reassurance in each other's company, especially Charlie seems to stay fairly close to Willow.

    Now I must point out I am not particularly unhappy about the situation and if it continued indefinitely, I am not worried about it. I would naturally like to do the best for both of them and of course I can see how them being able to live together would be a bonus - to start with they would both have access to about twice their living space in addition to having somebody to snuggle up to. At the same time I understand that having Willow spayed does not guarantee that this will definitely happen, only make it a bit more likely.

    On the other hand, I really don't like the idea of unnecessary surgical procedures. Whenever I take either rabbit to the vet, they get so stressed out, I can hardly wait to get back home with them. I must admit I am also a little bit unsure about the validity of the usual argument that unspayed females tend to develop uterine cancer. Some reports suggest that actually these tend to be benign and do not necessarily mean that the rabbit is doomed. Perhaps this is not quite a good example but my wife has some fibroids and they never gave her any problems and she certainly wouldn't consider a hysterectomy "just in case". I am also a bit sceptical about vets advice, as - and I say this without the slightest disrespect to their professional judgement - there is a potential conflict of interest.

    So I thought I'd ask the question. By the way, I am not dogmatic and accept that whatever any of you will write, it will only be a personal opinion given with the best will in the world, as they say. I would just want to have a gut feel for what is best for Willow.

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    Warren Veteran Amy104's Avatar
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    Personally I always spay, I have rehomed rabbits who were clearly much happier and content post spay and they were then of course able to go on to live with other bunnies which is always a bonus. Your little girl is still young, but they can be quite spunky once the hormones hit.

    I have had almost 20 of my own rabbits spayed/neutered over the years and they have all been easy straight forward ops, yes there are risks but a good vet can minamise these.
    I Suffer From Multiple Rabbit Syndrome
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    I have 2 girls, sisters, and at around 6 months old started to fight so I had them both spayed. Since then, apart from the odd normal spat (a bit of fur pulling, nothing major) they have been fine. Had I left them, I fear there would have been blood, or worse. So from that viewpoint alone I am all for spaying.

    Spaying calms them - you say Willow keeps pestering Charlie - so if you had Willow spayed, she wouldn't as there wouldn't be any hormones/drive for her to do so, and therefore they could be kept as a true pair, cuddling up to each other, grooming each other; proper, true best friends and cuddle buddies like paired rabbits should be.

    And that's without the potential ordinary ovarian cancer prevention thrown in as well.

    My girls Coco and Thumper (respectively)

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    I'm always pro-spay.
    The only time I'd ever be against it is in the rare case that medically the rabbit physically can not be spayed. (Unable to locate ovaries, won't accept anaesthetic etc).

    From what you describe, having Willow neutered will allow them to have a normal bond. Although bonding itself can often look quite aggressive and scary if you've never done it before. (Depending on location I'd be happy to come help you if you'd like).



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    Wise Old Thumper MightyMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lagomorphine View Post
    Dear Lagomorphologists,

    The majority of rabbit owners seem to be in favour of having female rabbits spayed but, in the interest of having a balanced view, I was wondering if anybody is against the idea.

    Here's our situation it a nutshell: we have Willow, a 7 month old unspayed doe living in the garden next to Charlie, a castrated 2-year old buck. In general, I have no particular issues with Willow as she is. She is healthy, friendly and tidy. Both she and her companion have a decent amount of space, 24/7 access to grass and they both seem fairly happy, apart from one thing: at the moment they can't live together. Basically, whenever I have tried to let them near each other, Willow wanted Charlie to mate with her (this is fairly obvious from her behaviour) but of course Charlie wasn't interested. So they ended up with Willow pestering Charlie, Charlie getting fed up and biting her, then the situation escalated and so I separated them.

    So they live parallel lives, side-by-side, a few inches apart in separate runs. They definitely find reassurance in each other's company, especially Charlie seems to stay fairly close to Willow.

    Now I must point out I am not particularly unhappy about the situation and if it continued indefinitely, I am not worried about it. I would naturally like to do the best for both of them and of course I can see how them being able to live together would be a bonus - to start with they would both have access to about twice their living space in addition to having somebody to snuggle up to. At the same time I understand that having Willow spayed does not guarantee that this will definitely happen, only make it a bit more likely.

    On the other hand, I really don't like the idea of unnecessary surgical procedures. Whenever I take either rabbit to the vet, they get so stressed out, I can hardly wait to get back home with them. I must admit I am also a little bit unsure about the validity of the usual argument that unspayed females tend to develop uterine cancer. Some reports suggest that actually these tend to be benign and do not necessarily mean that the rabbit is doomed. Perhaps this is not quite a good example but my wife has some fibroids and they never gave her any problems and she certainly wouldn't consider a hysterectomy "just in case". I am also a bit sceptical about vets advice, as - and I say this without the slightest disrespect to their professional judgement - there is a potential conflict of interest.

    So I thought I'd ask the question. By the way, I am not dogmatic and accept that whatever any of you will write, it will only be a personal opinion given with the best will in the world, as they say. I would just want to have a gut feel for what is best for Willow.

    Sorry to have missed your post

    There's some interesting reading here:

    http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/sh...es-26-May-2017

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    Thanks everybody for your responses. It's all useful stuff and will help me.

    With regard to Willow pestering Charlie: this is not really a problem. It used to be an issue a few months ago when let them out together, trying to see if they would get on well. Now I only let them out separately, so it can't happen. Occasionally Willow will prostrate herself in front of Charlie, with her tail up on the other side of his run. I can almost hear her "love me, love me, say that you love me...". But of course, Charlie doesn't respond. So apart from a minute of lustful behaviour, there is nothing worrying going on.

    With regard to a calmer behaviour, Willow is absolutely fine in that respect. She's very friendly towards us and I'm not sure if I really want her to be more docile. No sign of phantom pregnancies. She tends to dig quite deep tunnels, which of course is a bit of inconvenience (the garden looks messier), but then again - she is a rabbit. She is expressing natural behaviour. I can't expect her to entertain herself by watching youtube videos...

    One of the reasons why I'm sceptical about preventative surgery is because of what has happened to human medical practices over the years. When I was a child (in the 70's), doctors used to remove tonsils like it was going out of fashion. Nobody thought the appendix performed any useful function. Antibiotics were handied out like candies. Personally if I was told that I have, say 50% chance of developing, say, testicular cancer by the age of 70 (just an example I plucked out of my head), I would say, OK, leave me alone, no surgery for me please. But of course your opinion might be different and that's OK with me.

    daphnephoebe - thanks for your kind offer, I might take it up one day, we are only 15 miles from Cambridge...

    Thanks again, all of you, I will keep pondering over it.

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    Warren Veteran DemiS's Avatar
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    There's always that risk that something could go wrong but these days a lot more is known about rabbit care and vets seem a lot more clued up on rabbit surgery. I would always ring around a few places though and ask them how often they do these kind of operations. The spaying argument reminds me a little of people who don't go for smear tests. The test might not be very comfortable but that's temporary, and a hell of a lot more pleasant than being treated for cancer that's gone undetected for a long time. I too am unsure about the validity of the __% of females get uterine cancer by age 5, that number isn't going to be extremely accurate and representative of the entire rabbit population but I strongly believe rabbits are much more likely to die a painful death of uterine cancer rather than slip away under anasthesia.

    The first female rabbit I had, I put off spaying her until she was three years old. She's not that old I said to myself, I can wait a bit longer. Anyway I took her to the vets when she was 3 and they found an enormous tumour that had spread beyond her uterus. The tumour had wrapped around one of her kidneys (which had to be removed) and nearly cut off circulation to her intestines too. If I'd of put off her spay for another few weeks she'd probably of died a horrible death, it would of likely pressed against her lungs making it hard for her to breathe and cut off her digestive system causing her to starve to death. We were extremely lucky that they managed to get all of the tumour out and she was fine. Also this same female was extremely hormonal when she was young, loads of phantom pregnancies, very territorial and gave me some really nasty bites. As her hormones settled she was the sweetest little thing.Please don't put it off. Surgery isn't fun but a completely preventable cancer wrapping its way around your rabbits internal organs slowly killing them isn't either.
    Elmo and Cookie ♥

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    Wise Old Thumper Santa's Avatar
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    I actually think vets would make more money out of people if they didn't neuter their animals...treatment for uterine carcinoma (yes, it's a cancer, not a benign tumour - I have known of many rabbits who were found to have tumours when they were spayed but for whom it had spread, usually to lungs), pyometra, fight wounds due to higher risk of fighting, potential pregnancy and baby animals etc etc. If vets really were in it for the money, they wouldn't advocate neutering or vaccinating as they'd make far more money out of treating the consequences of people not doing so!
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    Wise Old Thumper Jack's-Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santa View Post
    I actually think vets would make more money out of people if they didn't neuter their animals...treatment for uterine carcinoma (yes, it's a cancer, not a benign tumour - I have known of many rabbits who were found to have tumours when they were spayed but for whom it had spread, usually to lungs), pyometra, fight wounds due to higher risk of fighting, potential pregnancy and baby animals etc etc. If vets really were in it for the money, they wouldn't advocate neutering or vaccinating as they'd make far more money out of treating the consequences of people not doing so!
    I totally agree. I have first hand experience of seeing the consequences of what Uterine Cancer can do to a Doe The awful condition is 100% preventable by spaying.

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