Help! Rat allergies.
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Thread: Help! Rat allergies.

  1. #1

    Default Help! Rat allergies.

    I'm new to rat parenting so please bare with me, but I brought home two female teenage rats this week and one of them is sneezy.
    I've determined that she isn't sick, because she is otherwise healthy. I've been checking her breathing frequently and she's not having trouble breathing, has plenty of energy and a good appetite. No porphyrin or discharge, hair looks sleek and shiny. Her cage-mate is fine and she hasn't gotten any better or worse with antibiotics. I'm pretty sure she's allergic to something in the home.

    I changed my soap and shampoos to unscented, plus she sneezes even when I haven't been near her in hours. It could be the Aspen bedding, I plan to get her some Yesterday's News today. But if it isn't the bedding, can rats have seasonal allergies? Maybe some pollen I brought in? If it's something besides the bedding what do I do?

    Is there a such thing as a rat allergy medicine?

    Can I expect this to go away once she's been here for a little while? I saw in the "Rat Sneezing" thread that they sometimes sneeze when they are adjusting to new smells and allergens. I'm really hoping that's the case, though I've had her for almost a week now and she still sneezes every few minutes.

    Will my rat ever be able to live without sneezing all the time? She doesn't seem to mind very much, but it breaks my heart every time I hear her sneeze.

    Sorry, I know that I'm FREAKING OUT and asking way too many questions, but these are my children! I want them to have the best quality of life that a rat monster can possibly have. Thanks in advance!

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    If you've just got them a few days ago it could be "new home sneezes" while adjusting to their new environment. If it doesn't improve within 1-2 weeks after you've had the rats, or worsens in that time frame, then a trip to the vets might be wise to make sure it isn't the start of a respiratory infection.

    In the meantime, I wouldn't keep changing various things as that can then make it harder to determine if it is "new home sneezes" or something irritating her. I'd wait a couple of weeks before changing various things.

    One of my rats, Oy, does and always has sneezed more compared to other rats. He is absolutely fine and healthy - that's just how he is. So that may also be something to consider, but a trip to the vets would be the first call if it doesn't stop.
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  4. #3
    Administrator Jaguar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    I don't really recommend aspen as a bedding anymore because it can contain mites and lice and all sorts of other bugs. If you freeze it for a day, it should be good, but even then it's usually very dusty and messy. The switch to YN is a good choice.

    I have a few questions though. Where did you get the rats? If they were from a pet store, were they kept in tanks, or on softwood shavings like cedar or pine? You say you gave her antibiotics... What exactly did you give her? Very few rat-friendly antibiotics can be purchased from feed stores and the like, so unless you took her to a veterinarian and got approved antibiotics like baytril, zithromax, doxycycline, etc. I wouldn't completely rule out an infection. Like Stace said, I would just keep watching it for a little while longer and see if it clears up or gets worse.


    Rest well Matilda, Rufus, Oliver, Sebastian, Miles, Leno, Gabby, Ona, Cami, Luna, Blue boy, Fuzzy boy, Benjamin, and Bernard.


  5. #4

    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    I did get her from a pet store. They were tanks, but the back was cage-like (not sure if that matters or not.) and the bedding in the cage looked like little yellow and blue balls of something. Not sure what. The cages there were pretty small, I guess standard fare for pet stores, though. She was the liveliest one in the entire store, which is why I picked her. Sneezing started almost as soon as she got here, before I'd even touched her once. I didn't notice if she sneezed on the way home or in the store, so I assumed it's something here that's bothering her.

    The antibiotic I gave her was tetracycline, the over-the-counter fish antibiotic. Of course, it's not ideal, but it was listed on http://www.rmca.org/Articles/dchart.htm and it says it's active against mycoplasma and mild respiratory infections. I followed the directions very closely and didn't give her any dairy products or moist food. The vets around here charge exorbitant fees that I will not be able to afford until at least next Friday, but I figured that if she gets any worse, I could use her warranty. It says that if she gets sick within 2 weeks of purchase I can bring her back, they'll treat her and let me know when she's recovered so that I can repurchase her. I really don't want to have to do that, her cage-mate seems to be very attached to her and she's bonding to me very quickly. I wouldn't have even gotten the rats this week if I would have known she'd be sick, I definitely would have waited until the paycheck after rent and bills are due. Of course, my luck is that everything that can go wrong will. You live you learn.

    If the bedding does end up being the issue and I don't change it right away, can the allergies cause her to develop a respiratory infection?

  6. #5

    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    Rats are not fish. Those wouldnt of helped her at all.

    If she does have a URI she will need to see a vet and get proper treatment. It could just be new home sneezes. Just use newspaper and shredded newspaper for the bedding.
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  7. #6
    Administrator Jaguar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    Tetracycline is sort of an oldschool treatment for rats. On its own, it's not really effective enough to clear up a progressed infection. My vet told me that it doesn't get to high enough levels in the blood or something similar. Also, its effectiveness is severely hindered if you give it in the water, becauase there's no way to really monitor how much your rat drinks. Also the water bottle needs to be covered because it loses effectiveness if it's exposed to light. It can also have some long term problems like yellow build up on the teeth. Happens frequently in humans because oldschool dentists like to use it aswell. Combos like baytril + doxycycline or zithromax+doxycycline depending on her age and severity are the most effective because they also treat possible secondary infections. If you let us know your location, we can try to find you an exotic vet nearby


    Rest well Matilda, Rufus, Oliver, Sebastian, Miles, Leno, Gabby, Ona, Cami, Luna, Blue boy, Fuzzy boy, Benjamin, and Bernard.


  8. #7

    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    I think I've discovered the problem. My boyfriend has a hobby of making Warhammer Miniatures. The aerosol paint primer he uses is pretty strong stuff and has even been giving me pretty bad headaches, even though he does them out on the balcony, the fumes are still pretty strong for a while after they dry. He dropped one of them on the floor and the rats ran over to see what it was and they both sneezed simultaneously! I hadn't even really though of it, but I'm glad this happened because those fumes are probably toxic in large amounts to rats. I think Kipsy is just a lot more sensitive to the stuff. I put the rats in another room away from his toy area and Kipsy hasn't sneezed once. But even if she does start sneezing again, I definitely don't want that stuff near my rats. I'll let you know in 24 hours how she's doing.

    Okay, one last question. Do rats need exotic vets? I have an acquaintance that is a vet for a cat rescue I volunteer for once a month and I know that her place will take rats, but should I seek out an exotic vet instead? Why don't they tell you these things when you get the rats? I just got a little pamphlet telling you what they eat and how often you should clean their cage. ::sigh::

  9. #8

    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    ya! ive been having trouble with my rats too! i use Kay-tee softsorbent with lavender and ever since i switched to it, my little guys have been sneezing and their feet and eyes are swelling! i wonder if it is something in the litter. can lavender cause illnesses in rats?

  10. #9

    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    I think I saw a thread somewhere where someone said it irritated them. I've heard nothing but good things about Yesterday's News, though. Today was cage cleaning day so I replaced their bedding with the Yesterday's News.

    Kipsy seems to be doing a lot better since we got her away from the Warhammer painting area. No sneezing at all. And she seems to like being able to look over and see me on my computer too. I think we have a winner.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Help! Rat allergies.

    I wouldn't use the scented soft sorbant, can you imagine living on that?It may smell nice to us but to them it would be soooo strong. It bothers my allergies so I can't imagine what it would be like to a rat.

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