Is your bunny having surgery? Even ‘routine’ procedures such as a spay/neuter or a full dental can be stressful on both you and your house rabbit. Anything that can be done to reduce the stress and hasten your pet’s recovery time will be a huge help to both you and your pet.
Obviously, you will want to be sure that the veterinarian performing surgery on your house rabbit is one that specializes in rabbits. There are many facets of rabbit surgery and care which are radically different than that of cat or dog surgery and care. Contact your local chapter of The House Rabbit Society for recommendations of rabbit savvy vets in your area. In southern Ohio, the Buckeye House Rabbit Society has a very nice list on their website of knowledgeable rabbit veterinarians.
Do not fast your rabbit prior to the surgery. Sometimes the receptionists scheduling the surgical appointments give you the rules regarding dog and cat surgery, not realizing that rabbits must not fast before surgeries. Dogs and cats must fast to reduce the risk of aspiration pneumonia should they vomit during surgery or post-op. Rabbits are physically unable to vomit and thus have no such risk. Further, the rabbit GI tract must remain active in order to avoid potentially fatal GI stasis. A rabbit that does not eat for 24 hours is at risk of GI stasis and liver damage.
When taking your bunny to the veterinarian for their surgery, take some of your bunny’s usual food pellets, hay, and a bag of their favorite greens, so that the veterinary staff can offer these to your rabbit as soon as the anesthesia has worn off .The sooner your rabbit starts to eat after surgery, the quicker his or her recovery will be.
If at all possible, arrange the surgery so that you can bring your bunny home with you the same evening. Spending the night in a strange place, with strange sounds, strange people and the smell of dogs and cats will stress out your bunny and possibly lengthen his recovery time. Also, as very few veterinary hospitals have 24-hour monitoring staff, your bunny is better off at home where you can keep an eye on him overnight.
If your bunny is bonded to another rabbit, conventional bunny wisdom says to bring them both to the hospital together so that the companion rabbit can provide comfort and security during pre-op and post-op. This sounds like a good idea and it works well for most people, but the author’s one attempt at this resulted in the companion rabbit becoming so stressed out by being in the veterinary clinic for the day that she became ill and threatened to go into GI stasis! The best the author can advise is to know your bunnies’ personality, use your best judgment and then monitor both of them carefully if you do take the pair to the clinic together.
Be sure to have more of bunny’s favorite greens and hay ready for when s/he comes home. It’s always a good idea to have Critical Care or Green Mush powdered nutritional supplement on hand, should your bunny eat poorly upon her return. Critical Care can be mixed with water and syringe-fed to your rabbit if need be.
Next: post-surgical care for the house rabbit
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