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PETS

Q: We have an affectionate and playful miniature lop rabbit who lives in the house and is a full member of the family -- no outside hutch for her. One of my daughter's classmates has a rabbit that her family no longer wants, and my daughter is asking us to adopt him. I've said yes. But the new rabbit is a male, and we certainly don't want the pair of them to do what comes naturally (if you get my drift). Can rabbits be spayed or neutered?

-- B.W.

A: Yes, rabbits certainly can be altered. And just as with dogs and cats, neutering and spaying eliminates many health and behavior problems. Female rabbits, for example, are at a high risk for uterine cancer, a leading killer of these pets over the age of 2. Spaying also removes the potential for common and potentially lethal reproductive-system infections. Besides extending your pet's lifespan, altering eliminates sex-related behavior problems. Sexually mature rabbits can be territorial or even aggressive, and may spray urine.

Put simply: Spayed and neutered rabbits make better pets. Despite all the benefits, however, anesthesia is a little trickier with rabbits than with dogs and cats. Be sure you're dealing with a veterinarian who is experienced with rabbits, and ask about anesthesia options and precautions. Do your part to help by following your veterinarian's pre- and postoperative directions precisely.

And bless your kind heart in giving an unwanted rabbit a second chance. Too many parents dump pets when the child for whom they were purchased loses interest. The message this sends to children -- living things are disposable -- is perfectly dreadful.

Universal Press Syndicate

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