Thank you to all of you who have offered support and advice following the last post, and to all of you who've commented, emailed or chatted with us about the lighter side of rabbits prior to that.
I'm sorry to tell you that earlier this afternoon we had to put Jellybaby to sleep.
On Saturday she stopped eating and by the evening was showing signs of distress and pain. On Sunday morning we took her in to the exotic animal vet, got meds and critical care food to keep her going. They're closed on Mondays so we had her booked in for 8 am this morning to have dental surgery to tackle the teeth (molars) that were curling back and growing into her gums.
At noon today the vet telephoned to say they'd taken xrays and that it was far worse than first suspected. It turns out she was born with a hereditary condition that caused her molars to grow badly; not only were the roots twisted but they were encroaching backwards so the upper roots were growing into her eye sockets and the lowers were growing down until they were nearly breeching the lower jaw. The xrays were horrifying. Even the xrays of other bad cases the vet showed us paled in comparison. I can't help but wonder how much pain she bore over how many months before it became intolerable.
Breeders are responsible for this development: it shows up almost exclusively in selectively in-bred rabbits. Nature has ways of preventing crippling, misery-inducing deformities like this. Rabbits forced to mate with their relatives do not.
Major surgery was an option, involving removing all her molars. Success was unlikely as they were so badly grown that they would have been nigh-on impossible to remove properly or entirely. Even complete success, however unlikely, would likely have been temporary as they can grow back in again - crooked as before. And if unsuccessful, she would continue to suffer as her teeth forced their way into her eyes. Each attempt would mean full sedation (always risky), the stress of the operation and the painful recovery.
The vet gave us the options and explained all in detail but would not advise us. That part was up to us. The course, though painful, seemed clear. Once we told the vet our decision we could tell she was relieved.
They brought Jellybaby out to be with us. We had a few minutes alone and I held her as they administered the injection.