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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Spay 5 year old doe

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    • Bam
      16406 posts Send Private Message

        Posting this for new member Mu:

        ”My bun will be five years old sometime soon (not sure exactly when– she was born sometime March, April, or May). She’s currently unspayed, but has an appointment this week (it’s a long story; in short, when I got her I was a young teen terrified I was going to harm her, she did horribly in the car, the two years after we got her were insane with some personal events then covid obviously, and we were almost positive she was a male. I knew a bit about reproductive cancer risks if unspayed, but she was such a healthy thing (literally never had a health problem and ate hay religiously) and I was scared to rock the boat.) My fear, our assumption she was a guy, the rocky couple of years, plus the fact that we have no experienced rabbit vets within 2 hours of us, just kinda pushed it to the back of our minds. However, a couple of months ago we had some trouble with ear mites and were forced to seek an experienced rabbit vet. We found an absolutely lovely one who I trust completely, and we found out she was actually a girl :-(. He wanted to spay her as soon as possible after she got over the mite infection. And while I’m of course a bit concerned that they’ll find uterine cancer that has spread, I’m hoping that since she’s not quite five yet if she has an issue it’ll be curable with the spay (if anyone has some happy stories of older girls getting spayed successfully, I’d love hear them!!)

        Anyway, with EXCELLENT traffic they’re an hour and forty-five minutes away, with bad traffic it could easily be around or more than 2.5 hours. She still does pretty horribly on car rides and at the vet (won’t eat a thing after getting in the car, sits wide-eyed and hunched, and she has muscle tremors from fear at the vet and at home afterward) but she’s a consistent eater once she gets home. She also loves the taste of Metacam (found that out during the ear mite treatment) so I don’t think stasis or medication will be a big concern. Just in case, I have safe baby food, bananas, her fave treats, etc ready. I’m planning to keep her in a dog crate with a pen attached (just the dog crate for 24 hours probably). She’ll have her fleece blanket, water crock, and some toys she’s used to, plus I have a snugglesafe pet warmer for her in case she’s cold. So I think I’m all set for the recovery at home (I’ll be home all week so I can stay close and monitor). I know hypothermia is an issue after anesthesia though, and there’s quite literally not one other closer vet I feel comfortable with. So she’ll have a 2ish hour drive after anesthesia in the car, and I know she won’t eat anything until after we’re settled in back at home. Thankfully, it won’t be an all-day ordeal (they want her there by 8:30 and she’ll be ready to go by 11) so it’s not a dangerous length of time to go without eating. But of course as the day gets nearer I’m getting concerned, and I’m wondering if anyone has recommendations to keep her warm and comfortable on the ride home? Or if you just have general information/recommendations for things to get or do that could help the recovery process, I’d love any input.”

      • Bam
        16406 posts Send Private Message

          Hi Mu!

          I think you are wise to have her spayed. Even if they find cancerous growth, uterine cancer is slow to metastasize, so chances are good a spay is curative. Cancer is not the only risk for an intact girl bun, there are other potential reproductive disorders that a spay will put a stop to.

          It sounds a bit unusual to me to send a bun home so soon after a spay.

          In my opinion, the most important thing is to keep her warm for the trip back home. You can use handwarmers wrapped in a towel, you know the kind that you bend so they become warm. This could be good since whatever you could bring from home would’ve cooled by the time she’s released. If you cant get hand warmers, you could perhaps ask the clinic beforehand if you can have some warm water to fill in plastic soda bottles or even in surgical gloves that you tie a knot on, for the travel back home. It’s great that you have a snugglesafe for when she gets home! It’s also great that you’ll be able to be home with you. Rabbits want company. You don’t have to constantly fuss over her or interact actively, just the fact that you are there will feel safe to her.

          There are more risks with full anastesia for a bun of her age than for a young bun, but if your vet is rabbit savvy, they’ll have a special protocol for surgery on buns aged 5 and plus.

          Last year I attended a lecture by my very rabbit savvy vet on reducing stress pre-surgery. There are things you can do, and they increase the chances of a great outcome. To make your girl less scared on the day of the surgery, you should make sure her carrier is sufficiently padded with sth soft like rolled up fleece blankets. Even if she wont eat in the carrier, the scent of fresh herbs can make a bun feel safer. Fresh herbs are also great for when you come home, they often spark an appetite. It’s like rabbits “know” herbs often have medicinal properties that might relieve post-anesthesia nausea etc. You can use any fragrant fresh herb, like parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, mint, dandelion greens etc.

          If it’s a clinic that sees a lot of dogs and cats as well as rabbits, you can ask if you can wait in the car until they have an exam room ready for you. Some clinics have a special waiting room for cats, and even if the scent of cats can be scary for buns, cats are as a rule kept in carriers and they tend not to be as vocal as dogs.

          At some clinics you just hand the bun in over the front desk for a spay/neuter, but if you get to go in an exam room, you can place the carrier on the floor and open it so she can hop out on the floor if she wants to. Bring an extra towel or blanket to put on the floor. If a bun gets the opportunity to investigate its environment, the bun will feel safer. If you’re not sure if your vets are happy with this, you can ask beforehand. I find vets nowadays are quite happy with this.

          You should have Oxbow Critical Care or other recovery formula on hand for when she gets home. You will probably want to syringe her some before bedtime on the spay-day and the day after.

          Make sure you get a prescription for a painkiller to give her at home. Metacam is good, you’ll want a dose of at the minimum 0.3 mg/kilo body weight per day for 5 days. Pain relief is extremely important for buns!

          This is a looong post, but I’m sure I havent covered everything, so please just ask away =)

        • Mu
          1 posts Send Private Message

            Her spay was Tuesday morning and she did great. The vet found some neoplasia in her uterus but it didn’t seem to be very far along (I’m not sure what the correct term would be, but) and the x-rays didn’t seem to show any spread. She nibbled hay and ate two romaine leaves as soon as she got back home. She also pooped a couple large, squishy poops. She did terrify me a little bit later in the day because after that she didn’t eat anything but a couple nibbles of a treat until close to midnight (5-7 hours without food). She fell asleep in her cage and I dumbly left her alone in the room for about an hour to eat something and drink some coffee (this was about two hours after getting home) and when I returned it was pretty cold in the room and she had moved off her heating pad. I thought she would be awake and aware enough to move back on to it if she was cold, but she was completely out of it from the meds. She was refusing food and treats so I coaxed her onto the heating pad, tucked her fleece closer around her, turned the heater up to 72ish degrees (fahrenheit) and petted her to warm her up. Her ears and nose were pretty cold and I could feel her shaking a bit (although she does this from stress at the vets too, so there’s a chance it wasn’t from cold.) She seemed to feel better a little later but continued to refuse food, including her favorites like banana. So I syringed her the night dose of Metacam, some simethicone, and some baby food. She was incredibly angry with me– the sleepy kind of angry like if you constantly prod a toddler during their nap and they desperately just want to sleep– but her tummy was very sunken and soft and I was worried. She also kept hopping/gingerly tiptoeing away from me and then yawning, so she really was exhausted. She really is not a fan of any handling (she absolutely loves pets and will flop beside me and put her head on the ground for me to pet it, but she has always hated being picked up and I pretty much avoid it at all costs) so I was really worried about trying to get her to take her dosage of syringed food every few hours (it would be about 18ml every four hours for her weight, I think). Luckily at midnight she ate a small sprig of parsley, and in the couple hours after that she ate more parsley, a leaf of romaine, another nibble of hay, and a tiny piece of banana. She pooped several times, tiny hard misshapen droppings, so we started drenching her veggies. She’s pretty much back to her normal diet now, and I saw her drink out of her water bowl this morning for the first time. She’s still on Metacam right now. According to the prescription, she should have her last dose tonight, but I could give it to her longer. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain whatsoever. No teeth grinding and she’s not been grooming her incision much (it’s the teeniest bit red but it hasn’t gotten redder since the first day so I’m assuming it’s normal). She’s been an absolute terror though. I guess it’s a hormone surge? I kept her in her crate for 24 hours (the door was open but I encouraged her to stay inside and she wasn’t much in the mood to hop about), and now she’s in her xpen (16 sq ft plus the dog crate). But she’s genuinely been tearing everything apart. She used to dig in her litter box a bit and rearrange things and would push the bedding where she wanted it in the crate, but yesterday I was putting fresh bedding plus her heating pad and fleece in her crate while she wasn’t inside and she hopped in and tried to shove everything out, then tried to attack my arm and when I withdrew it she hoped out and went for my shin. I chalked it up to me invading her territory and backed off, and this morning she had completely strewn everything. Her litter box was basically empty and the contents were all over the floor, her water bowl which she usually keeps rather clean was full of paper pellets, her fleece and heating pad were completely covered with paper and she had definitely been digging at them, and she was snorting and grunting at us when we were bringing her food and not handing it to her quickly enough. Luckily she has a larger separate water bowl attached to her pen away from the paper pellets so if she really needed a drink she could drink from there, she’s not completely litter trained so she was more likely to go in the floor on the paper pellets than on the plastic and then sit in it and get scald, and I’m not terribly concerned about the grunting because she was always quite vocal (I’ve heard her grunt/growl when she pushes on her pen bars, whimper and thump when she heard sounds she didn’t like, sigh and purr when relaxing, and cluck when getting pellets or treats). The aggression and destructive  behavior shouldn’t be a pain reaction, because she’s calm if someone reaches to pet her (on her terms of course), she runs for food, she hasn’t been grinding her teeth, she’s still on a twice daily dose of Metacam, and she’s been flopping. Hopefully it really is just the hormones going crazy and she’ll relax when those calm down.

          • Bam
            16406 posts Send Private Message

              The aggression/destructive behaviour might very well be due to a “hormonal surge” post spay. Hormones travel in the blood stream to the receptors on their target organs. When they cant “find” their receptors, more hormones will be relased  for some time. This situation is known as a post-neuter craze, and its normal and self-limiting. With boys it normally subsides with 8 weeks, but it can take longer with girls.

              The most important thing is appetite, poop and pee. Poop can be mishapen for at least 2 weeks and that’s still normal. As long as she is eating, esp hay, poop will normalise.

              It’s actually great if a bun fights her meds/syringed food (with the exception of buns that need daily meds for a prolonged amount of time, they’ll get used to the procedure). Its inconvenient with a feisty bun, and you must keep up the medication/feeding regardless, but its def not a sign of sth bad.

              Some buns are very vocal and some never utter a sound 😄


            • DanaNM
              8328 posts Send Private Message

                Whew, what a saga! I’m glad she’s doing better and yes I agree 100% this is the “post spay craze”, combined with being cooped up during her recovery. Giving her extra “boredom buster” activities during this time should help, especially things to chew, dig at, and shred. If you can get a phone book, they are great for this!

                I think you are OK to stop metacam if that’s what was directed by the vet since she’s eating and pooping but if you notice she seems painful then you can give her another dose.

                . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

              • BZOO
                314 posts Send Private Message

                  Another fun, distraction toy…

                  Take a cardboard box, put a cardboard cat scratcher in it and cut one hole.  Let the destruction begin!😊

                  Using a box about the size of the scratcher works best.  If bigger you can cut another scratcher to fit the spaces.

                • LBJ10
                  16439 posts Send Private Message

                    You can find those cardboard cat houses with the scratcher base. I got one on clearance from Valentine’s Day for $4.

                    Does she like palm leaf stuff? I tried the palm leaf boxes from the BB store and those are hours of fun!


                    BTW, I’m glad to hear your bunny is doing OK after such an ordeal. Don’t beat yourself up about her moving off the heating pad. You had no idea she would do that and you can’t watch her 24/7. You caught it quick enough and remedied the situation. 🙂

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                Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Spay 5 year old doe