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Date:   17 March, 2013  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
Neutering rabbits & guinea pigs
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date:   17 March, 2013 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Dec 11, 2009. Updated: 17 March, 2013

Giant Rabbit Neutering Case Study in 2008
Flemish Giant rabbit, Singapore. Crusty nose has scabies mites living in. Toa Payoh Vets
The vast majority of Singapore pet owners keep small rabbits of around 2-3 kg. My staff was surprised to see a Giant Fleming Rabbit of 5.2 kg turning up for neuter. He was extremely hyperexcitable. This type of temperament is a high anaesthetic risk.
One method is to use injectable anaesthesia of zoletil IM, 5 minutes later, give domitor IV via the ear vein.
However, this method seems to be unsuitable as restraint and injection causes the rabbit to move a lot.

Zoletil 50 0.2 ml IM
Waited 15 minutes
Wanted to give Domitor 0.2 ml IV, ear vein.
Still struggling. Abandoned this method in favour of Method 2.
Zoletil 50 0.2 ml IM given. In around 7 minutes, the rabbit staggers and by the 15th minute, the rabbit was recumbent.

However it exhibited excitation when the ear vein was pricked and moved away.

So, I used isoflurane 5% gas by mask.
Isoflurane gas - mask - maintenance at 0.5% - 1% was excellent. The rabbit was neutered without problems.
Xylazine IM, Ketamine IM is another method I used for smaller rabbits of around 2 kg. Isoflurane Gas top up may be necessary.
This Giant Rabbit recovered after 30 minutes and went home. Method 2 is the best method for me but each vet has his own preferences. 

Guinea Pig Neutering - Case study 1 in 2010
In a 4-month-old, 700-gram male Guinea Pig I neutered recently, Zoletil 50 0.1 ml IM was given. Then a few seconds of isoflurane gas at 1-2% provided excellent surgical anaesthesia when the guinea pig moved. The guinea Pig woke up within 1 minute after neutering was completed.

As rabbits and guinea pigs are not starved 10 hours prior to anaesthesia and surgery, unlike dogs, I neutered this guinea pig 4 hours after the young lady owner brought him in for neutering to prevent breeding. "It is much safer to neuter than to spay the guinea pig," the young girl told me. "You are correct," I replied. "Spaying takes a much longer time and require internal access inside the abdomen." 

After Zoletil injection, a copious amount of yellowish-brown fluid came out of the guinea pig's mouth. This appeared to be "vomitus". His mouth was cleaned before the gas mask was applied. This could be a side effect of Zoletil injection. 

Guinea Pig Neutering - Case study 2 in 2013

tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)5984 - 5987.  Domitor + ketamine subcutaneous to neuter a guinea pig

Nowadays, there are safe anaesthestics to neuter the rabbit, guinea pig, rat and hamster.

The vet must be very careful in calculating and giving the appropriate dose based on weight and health if he wants 100% success in neutering. A miscalculated high dose kills the patient. In a recent March 2013 Straits Times newspaper report, a doctor gave 1,000 times the recommended dose for the radiation treatment of thyroid cancer in a woman. This resulted in litigation. All anaesthetic dosages in surgeries given at Toa Payoh Vets are recorded by the operating vet in the Toa Payoh Anaesthesia & Surgery Record Book. This is to ensure that the vet is aware of what he is giving. I do audits of this Book to ensure good practices are kept.      

Costs of neuter of  the rabbit, guinea pig, rat and hamster

Anaesthesia & neutering of a rabbit or guinea pig less than 3 kg is $75. With the painkiller and antibiotic injections post-operation added in, the estimated total cost is $125 in 2013. This will be the total cost if the owner does not want the tablets and Elizabeth collar.

For pets between 3- 6 kg, an additional $75 is added.

Updates will be on this webpage:


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All rights reserved. Revised: March 17, 2013

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