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Rabbits/neuter gone terribly wrong


Hi Dana
Sadly, we lost a bunny during a neuter today. he was a  rescue so his age  is unknown. he came to us with sore hocks and what appeared to be a blunt force trauma to his eye. we waited months before neutering him so we could give his body a chance to heal and it did, he looked and acted very healthy. my vet has done thousands of neuters.
the vet was half way thru surgery and Frankie stopped breathing. the vet did everything possible to save him but couldnt.

Naturally, we did a necropsy. the vet said that he had bleeding everywhere and his blood hadnt clotted at all. {"dic"??} he said that either he had an issue that showed no symptoms or he had an allergic reaction to the drugs/anesthesia {ketamine/banamine/buprenex/isoflourane} which caused this to happen. i asked if a blood test should have been done and he said that testing the bloods coagulation is not part of a cbc/blood chem. i have no idea if thats true or not
i am in shocked and devastated. I cannot wrap my head around this. he was doing binkies last night and now he's gone.
is this something you have seen? i feel so deeply guilty for taking him for the neuter....

Dear Jeanine,

This is one of those unpredictable tragedies that sometimes happens, despite our best intentions.  I am so sorry about this sad outcome.  But please do not feel guilty.  There is no way you or the vet could have guessed beforehand this very strange, idiosyncratic condition he had (failure to clot?!).  I have never, ever heard of that before.  It must be a one-in-million freak chance.

It's true that clotting time is not part of standard blood work.  There is usually not an issue.  Whether that was the cause of death or if it was a bad reaction to anesthesia (or a combination) is not possible to know.  But if he was truly bleeding internally "everywhere" then I suspect that was the problem.  So very sad.  

I am terribly sorry for your loss.  If it's any consolation at all, then remember that there are worse ways to die than under anesthesia.  Though his little life was cut short, he had months of happiness with you, and then he passed peacefully during a procedure that you were having done for his health and longevity.  It just was not to be.

I am sorry.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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