Can Rabbits Eat Before Surgery?

Categorized as Bunny Diet

Last Updated on October 23, 2022 by Rei Garnet

Rabbits can eat before surgery and should never be starve. Rabbits that are not eating is at risk of GI stasis and liver damage.

Also, rabbits that are fed before surgery recovers faster.

If the staff of your vet clinic instructs you to not feed your rabbit before surgery, tell them to confirm this with the rabbit-savvy veterinarian.

Most of the time, the staff at your vet clinic assumes that just because dogs and cats must not eat before surgery, all animals must do the same.

Other animals should not eat before surgery because surgical anesthetics can cause vomiting, which can lead to choking and death.

Rabbits, on the other hand, have no vomiting reflex, meaning they are incapable of vomiting.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail if rabbits can eat before surgery:

Do you need to feed your rabbit before going into surgery?

brown rabbit eating on a bowl

Yes, rabbits need to eat before going into surgery. In fact, it is much better for rabbits to eat before surgery because it could help them recover much faster.

Rabbits need to eat to induce gut movement. Without eating, they could suffer from GI stasis or liver damage in as little as 24 hours.

Rabbits that are not fed before surgery could suffer from lack of appetite post surgery, which can be hard to correct. Lack of appetite in rabbits is a serious concern that can lead to fatal health problems in as little as 24 hours.

Rabbits that are fed before surgery have also been observed to recover their appetites faster post surgery.

The staff at the vet clinic told me to not feed my rabbit before going into surgery, should I listen?

No, the receptionist or the staff at your vet clinic probably thinks that just because dogs and cats should not eat before surgery, all animals must do the same.

The main reason why other animals like dogs and cats are instructed to not eat before surgery is the risk of vomiting during surgery or while recovering.

Vomiting is a serious concern in other animals because they could inhale the liquid vomit into their lungs, which can be fatal.

Rabbits, on the other hand, have no vomiting reflex, meaning they are physically incapable of vomiting, so there’s no need to make sure that their gut is empty.

Additionally, rabbits should never be starved because it could lead to GI stasis and liver damage in as little as 24 hours.

The veterinarian told me to not feed my rabbit before surgery, should I listen?

I would suggest that you get a second opinion from a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. A veterinarian that specializes in rabbits knows how risky it is to starve a rabbit, even if they are going into surgery.

Rabbits can suffer from GI stasis and liver damage in as little as 24 hours if they don’t eat anything.

You can find rabbit-savvy veterinarians here.

What should you feed your rabbit before surgery?

Rabbit eating a much of vegetables.

If you’re feeding your rabbit the right diet, you don’t need to change anything. You should feed them their normal diet before going into surgery.

The right diet for rabbits is 80% hay, 10% vegetables, 9% pellets, and small amounts of treats.

These portions are for rabbits that are 7 months old. If your rabbit is younger, you can use this diet portion calculator to determine how much food you should feed your rabbit:

Diet Portion Calculator For Rabbits

What should you feed your rabbit post-surgery?

You can then feed your rabbits leafy greens like basil, parsley, carrot tops, cilantro, and celery. These fragrant herbs are known to be preferred by rabbits recovering from surgery.

Finally, according to a study done by the Department of Periodontics in India, you can also syringe feed your rabbit with a thin slurry of blenderized (to liquefy food in a blender) fresh vegetables mixed with fruit juice 1-2 times during the initial 24-hours period after the surgery.

Alternatively, you can buy a critical care food like the Oxbow critical care supplement for rabbits.

Here’s a great instruction on how to syringe feed your rabbit by Dr. Kristin Britton of the NorthStar VETS:

Just make sure that you’re not forcing your rabbit to eat the liquified fresh vegetables. If you are doing it right and your rabbit is still throwing out the food, you should stop.

If this is the case, your rabbit might not be able to swallow normally. You need to contact your veterinarian and tell them about it.

Conclusion

Rabbits can eat their regular diet before surgery. Rabbits should never be starved for any reason because they could develop GI stasis and liver damage if they don’t eat anything.

The reason why other animals are instructed to not eat before surgery is that surgical anesthetics can lead to vomiting. Rabbits, on the other hand, are incapable of vomiting, so there’s no need to clear their gut.

If the staff at the vet clinic instructs you to not feed anything to your rabbit, tell them to confirm this to the rabbit-savvy veterinarian.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (December 8, 2022) Can Rabbits Eat Before Surgery?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-eat-before-surgery/.
"Can Rabbits Eat Before Surgery?." Bunny Horde - December 8, 2022, https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-eat-before-surgery/

By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.