Q: A few hours after my bunny was spayed, her front leg and chest were swollen and tender.  The vet told me it was probably from the subcutaneous fluid administered, and that it’s normal. She didn’t eat or poop the following day. Four days have passed and she still seems to be uncomfortable and inappetent. What should I do?

A: The subcutaneous fluid that your vet mentioned is usually administered during the operation to provide hydration and electrolytes to your bunny. This volume of fluid—infused under the skin—acts like a reservoir for the rabbit to slowly absorb over a period of 24 to 36 hours, and is commonly given at the following areas: Nape (neck, or in-between shoulder blades), or at the lateral flank (waist or rump area). 

If it appears as if a sack of fluid is pooling, it might just be the result of gravity as the fluids flow downward after the therapy is done. This should resolve by itself once your rabbit has absorbed all the fluid, and should not cause any permanent damage or pain to your bun. 

Bunnies are very sensitive to pain but they tend not to show it physically. Often, we see the rabbit huddle in a meatloaf position and suffer from decreased appetite. While sterilisation is a routine surgery for a rabbit, it is still considered an invasive open abdominal surgery. Paw-rents have to take great care to ensure the smooth recovery of their bunny after surgery. 

It is also important to provide post-surgical pain relief. The post-surgical pain can last for four to seven days, during which there is tenderness and discomfort to the surgical site. Ensure that your bunny doesn’t lick or irritate the surgical site and that the site reminds dry and clean at all times. Watch out for any abnormal swelling and oozing of discharge from the wound. If any of these are present, a review at the vet is necessary. 

Also, rabbits are very prone to gut stasis, hence, during this recuperative period, it is important to feed her some liquidised food paste via syringe. You can also soak her pellets to create a paste and syringe-feed her that way. At the same time, you have to monitor her faecal output and size of each faecal pellet. If you suspect a gut stasis-related issue, please bring her back to your vet for reassessment of her condition as more medicine can be prescribed to help with her appetite.