Thursday, March 3, 2011

351. Rabbit anaesthesia - sharing knowledge via the internet

Very few rabbits are spayed as most owners in Singapore and in other countries don't bother to do it. Therefore most vets in most countries don't have much opportunities to use anaesthetics to spay rabbits unlike in cases of dogs and cats.

Vets who work in rabbit shelters seldom share their knowledge as there is no monetary incentive.

However, injectable anaesthetics used are safe in the spay of normal rabbits. Use isoflurance by gas mask for a few seconds to top up moving patients. If no gas, use injectable anaesthestics in half or quarter doses. Analgesia is very effective. I did record four rabbits being spayed and neutered in one case in at:

Today I got an email from a young Italian vet who spayed a rabbit after reading my blog. It was great to know that she had good success. That is good news for rabbits too as rabbits do develop uterine cancer in old age and spaying prevents such cancers.

dear dr Sing,
i'm an italian young vet, dr ....., and i read your blog about anesthesia for rabbits..and i used premedication with atropina and your method n 2 with zoletil and isofluorane and than analgesia for a rabbit was fantastic!

i was scared to anesthetize a rabbits cause i never learnt anything about this at university..but i tried!!

everything was good except her was so's normal in a rabbit or it was cause she was in estrus?
now she is ok, and she ate few hours later anesthesia..
thank you so much...i hope i have your reply...



It is good to hear from you. I was in Italy in 13 December 2011 just as snow started. Beautiful countryside and people. I like Venice, Pisa, Rome and Florence.

1. In reply, very few vets do spays on rabbits because the Singaporean owners do not usually request rabbit spays and there is the perception that anaesthesia is risky in rabbits. .
2. The uterus is more fragile than in dogs and cats especially when in estrus.
2. Can you share with me the weight, dosage of zoletil used and analgesia for my knowledge?
3. What is the address of my webpage you saw?


oh i 'm so happy you reply me so soon!
in italy, there are very very few people that request to have their own rabbits spayed...maybe because the majority of Italians eat rabbits!
...i live in the southern of Italy, and not all animals have the possibility to be visited by a vet...cultural problems may be..there are few rabbits in the houses and not many people know they need a vet!
so your...or...may be not your site is:

i used atropina in 0.5mg/kg and than zoletil 100 between 5-25mg/kg IM (my white rabbit was 3 kg and i do first 0.15ml of zoletil...but it was quite i do inject another 0.15 ml. she started to be very quiet..eyes closed...and so, after a few minutes, i put on her face a isofluorane mask on 2%, than 1% during all the spay.
Before I start to cut her skin i gave flumixin meglumine in 1mg/kg, so i used Finadine in 0.02ml/kg, i read its effect will start just 2 hours after administration IM.
20 minutes after the end of spay, she cried nervously for few seconds...and then she sat calmly in her little cage..
in 2 hours she started to eat normally, and now, 2 days after spay, she can standing up and she is very sweet!
I do not use antibiotics after surgery...because i'm scared to do it..
she is very good...i nurse her every day, and she cleans her cut, with intradermical sutures, she can't put off it.

i hope i can ask you in future just to have your help!


An excellent description by the Italian vet.
Due to lack of time, some of my webpages are at and some at In, it is easy for me. No need to upload files and link it as in I could just type, click "post" and the webpage is there! In, I need to FTP the file to the site. Then I need to get the hyperlink and put it into my front page which is This takes a few minutes.

The website refered to by the Italian vet is in one of my blogs at I reproduce as follows:
2. Anaesthesia - Giant Rabbit and Guinea Pig
BE KIND TO PETS community education
Sharing knowledge with veterinarians

Giant Rabbit Neutering
The vast majority of Singapore pet owners keep small rabbits of around 2-3 kg. So my staff quoted the normal prices of $75.00 for neutering of a rabbit. A price list is displayed prominently at the reception. It says: "Castration, rabbit, $75.00"

However, a giant rabbit was presented after the owner phoned for a quotation. Unfortunately, my staff had never thought of asking its weight, unlike the case for dog neutering. A Giant Fleming Rabbit of 5.2 kg turned up. 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
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.
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Educational
Project 2010-0001


Thank you very much for your sharing of knowledge and your interesting description of your rabbit spay. In Singapore, the majority of the population does not eat rabbits. Now, the pets kept are dwarf rabbits mainly as the big ones are out of fashion. If you have a picture of your spayed rabbit, do email the surgical site to me for record.

Pl email if you have other questions on veterinary matter. The blog you gave in the e-mail was written by me. For other interesting veterinary cases on rabbits, I usually post the reports at Goto "Rabbits" to read the cases of relevance to you. Best wishes.

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