Small Mammals

Check out our pet info

Surgery and your Rabbit


Unlike with cats and dogs, it is important not to withhold food from small mammals such as rabbits (who are incapable of vomiting) and there is no need to withdraw water.

Normally, your rabbit should arrive early morning and will be admitted by the veterinarian. You will be asked to sign a consent form. This confirms that you are aware of the procedure and agree to it being performed. It also confirms that you are aware of any risks and complications that may develop. It is important that the consent form is signed by an adult and ideally by the registered owner.

You will be required to leave a contact phone number for us to use in the event of an emergency. It is essential that you are available throughout the day for us to be able to contact you immediately should the need arise.

We recommend that you call the hospital in the early afternoon on the day of surgery to confirm a suitable time for your rabbit to be discharged.


The discharge appointment after surgery will be with either a trained nurse or the veterinarian.

On the first evening, your rabbit may be a little quiet or sleepy. You should allow them to rest comfortably and the next day, they should be brighter.

We recommend that you offer some food and water when you get home. It is perfectly normal for your pet to have a reduced appetite but we try to encourage small mammals to eat as soon as possible after surgery to maintain gut motility.

Try to keep the wound dry and clean. You can check the wound daily for any excessive signs of bruising, bleeding, discharge, swelling or redness.

It is normal for some fur to have been shaved and commonly clipped areas are the site of the wound, the ear (where an IV catheter may have been placed) and the neck (for blood sampling). Don't worry, the fur will grow back over the next couple of months!

Occasionally, there may be coughing for a few days following the anaesthetic if an endotracheal tube was placed in the airway. This should resolve a few days after the surgery. Often masks are used to administer anaesthetic in rabbits instead of an endotracheal tube.

It is important that your pet is prevented from licking or biting at the wound as this may damage the skin and pull out the sutures. Elizabethan collars are used to prevent this in cats and dogs, but cannot be used in rabbits as they prevent vital coprophagia. Normally sutures are placed within the skin layers in rabbits as opposed to normal skin sutures, as these are less likely to be interfered with licking or biting.

Please follow our instructions regarding any medication (e.g. pain relief) and when to come back to the hospital for a re-visit. At Acorn, we routinely administer pain relief to all animals undergoing surgery.

You should contact us immediately if:

1)    Your rabbit becomes excessively lethargic or weak

2)    The gums appear a lot paler than normal

3)    There is excessive swelling or bleeding from the wound