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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks, long time, no post.

Anyhow, I wanted to see if anyone has dealt with what I'm going through. Let me start at the beginning:

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest rat started acting kind of funny. She was very lethargic, wasn't hoarding her food like usual and showing a touch of porphyrin around her eyes.

Fast forward to about this past Friday. My rat seemed to be experiencing the previous symptoms more fully, but was still interested in coming out and playing. We decided to keep an eye on her, and take her in to a vet if it continued much longer.

Last night we took her out and she had extremely poor traction and kept falling over. We found a 24 hour emergency pet clinic that would see rats and took her in. She was dehydrated and sluggish, but they weren't sure of the exact cause. They stabilized her and sent us home with some general meds.

Today my husband took her to the vet. They didn't notice any trouble breathing (so not likely Myco) and there were no lumps (doubtful on cancer then). They let her walk around and it she would go in circles, so they think it's probably neurological. They gave us an anti-inflammatory and helped re-proportion her med doses accordingly.

We're going to get her a tank so that she can't get up on to ledges and fall down. We're also going to start hand feeding her and softening her food.

I'm not sure if this is something that can be helped. If everything we try doesn't work and her quality of life stays dim, we may need to put her to sleep. (I couldn't stand to watch my baby suffer.)

Has anyone had any experience with something like this? Any neurological problems with your rats? I'd love any advice I can get.

Thanks.
 

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This is either usually inner ear infection, pituitary tumour or a stroke. They all have the same treatment...abs and steroid. After starting treatment you can start to figure out which one you are battling.

Inner ear infection usually needs long courses of abs to finally cure. check for stinky ear and you should notice an improvement in a few days.

Pituitary tumour is sadly a palliative treatment, although the steroids will sometimes reduce the inflammation for awhile. Its not a painful end overall. They will show a variety of symptoms that become very recognizable.
Here is my gal Ariel (on ratguide) who shows a lot of typical symptoms.
http://ratguide.com/health/figures/pituitary_tumor_figure_2.php
Often with PT the improvement when you add a steroid borders on miraculous. :)

Stroke. If a rat doesn't die from it they can recover very slowly on their own, or faster with the treatment. They may have health issues from the stroke (weakness on one side, blindness, etc) or a possibility of more strokes in their future. Some rats have a stroke, recover and never have another one.

I hope this helps a little.

I am sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the reply. It sounds like one of those options is what's wrong with my baby. We'll try the meds for a few days and nurse her along as best we can. I guess all we can really do is wait and see.

I'm just trying not to break down crying.
 

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I've just had my eldest girl diagnosed with what we believe is a pituitary tumour. It's the hardest thing I've had to watch (her going downhill so badly)- and to deal with. I have to ensure I feed her extra food and water (babyfood is very good for this) 3 to 4 times a day becaus she's so confused and wobbly she can't often find her own food.

I hope, really hope, that your little one doesn't has to suffer through this. My Katie (I've posted various links and videos/pics in case you want to compare cases - all are in the rat health section) is a really special girl, and i'm trying to do everything I can for her - but it's very had to watch her. She's got a lot better with anti-inflammatories though. And a trick that works with her is giving them to her early evening - then she's got most of her 'good time' when she's most active and therefore eats and drinks more.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What Katie is doing in those videos is extremely close to what Jezebel is doing.

We have an anti-inflammatory and a few other things that we have to give her twice a day. We're also switching to a cage where she won't be able to climb anywhere since she keeps falling down. I think I'm going to have to barricade some play space since she had such a hard time on the couch. My husband is also picking up baby food and eggs (to scramble). I gave her a treat this morning and she ate it, and it's obvious she's been eating some of the hard food, but I don't know how long that will last.

I was really hoping for an inner ear infection, but I really don't believe that's what it is.

Sorry that we seem to be in the same boat. It is incredibly hard to watch them in this state. :(
 

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If she is in the same boat as Katie, I've also found that soaking their food (I give them rat nuggets which I believe are similar to lab blocks?) in water and leaving it in a small dish in the cage helps. Katie can't eat hard food, although I leave some in there for her incase she wants to play by chasing it around the cage TRYING to eat it.

I've also changed her cage to a single story cage, like you've done.

How does she eat? One of the first signs for me was the loss of use in her hands, so she now eats out of a bowl like a dog :(
 

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baby cereal, baby food, soft veggies, strawberry Ensure...these are all good for compromised ratties. Sometimes they forget there is food there and you need to show them again (turn the dish, push their head, etc).

http://ratguide.com/health/figures/pituitary_tumor_figure_1.php

Maya had real issues with eating, didn't respond as well to the dexamethasone. You can do one-level cages or put hammocks in areas where a rat might fall off a shelf, that also can work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, Jezebel seemed surprisingly better last night. We gave her all her meds (she has three) when I got home and she dozed in my arms for a while.

We'd laid out a blanket on the floor and barricaded the area with boxes. She normally gets to play on the couch, but it's too dangerous right now.

When she woke up from my arms she was active and very aware of her surroundings. She explored, but would keep coming back to me. (I think she feels safe with me, which is wonderful.) It just seems to be her right side that is weaker, so she goes in circles a lot. However, she made a big effort to keep herself upright and actually wanted to climb around on me and my husband.

She gobbled down quite a bit of baby food off of a spoon and chowed down a lot of an apple slice and part of a grape. She'd let us give her water through the medicine syringe if we put some baby food on the tip to entice her.

She started out just using one paw to eat, but then she took the apple slice from me and started using both. She even broke off chunks and ate it out of her paws like normal. She adjusted how she was sitting so she didn't fall, which was very good.

She's been eating the hard block in her cage. I think she's having some trouble with water, so we're keeping her hydrated. (She kept bumping her head on the bottom of the water bottle, silly thing.)

This morning she had more baby food and ate a whole slice of apple.

With all of this, I'm starting to wonder if she really just had a stroke. She's not showing any signs of one eye bulging out more than the other like I've read often happens with tumours, and it's just one side that's weaker. We even got some bruxing and boggling last night.

We're trying to stay hopeful, but be realistic, because we're not 100% sure of anything right now. I'm so glad she seems happier though. Our new vet is wonderful too. She called my husband today to check in and said she'll check in again on Sunday.
 

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You can find that the anti-inflammatorys help a LOT.

I hope that it is a stroke (well, you know what I mean) rather than a PT. Either way it's a case of keeping her happy and plodding along - although hopefully if she's had a stroke you'll continuing noticing the improvement.

Katie has her good days and bad days (the good days are really good - but I really try not to get my hopes up for fear of disappointment). Although her mobility is terrible - she cleans herself and falls over, rolls over into her babyfood (I woke up to an orange rat this morning!) etc - she has those days, like at the moment, where her appetite picks up 10 fold and she's active most the day and night. For example, in the last 2 days she's eaten 2 jars of babyfood - but in the previous week before that she didn't even eat a whole jar! She's putting the weight back on that she lost very quickly, which is good to see :) But, no doubt, she'll have another bad patch soon :(

Although I'm still only learning to cope with her, I tend to let her dictate what she eats. I'll give her the usual treats, hard food and babyfood and let her eat what she wants. What I make sure that she does have, is water. Luckily, the babyfood contains a lot of water, so that keeps her somewhat hydrated, but I give her extra (if she wants it) and if I notice she doesn't eat much in a day, I'll mix the water with some babyfood and syringe feed it to her.

I don't know whether similar strategies would work if your little one has had a stroke vs PT, but I thought I'd share 'notes' anyway :)

Oh, and ps. Katie's eyes don't bulge (well, not yet anyway) and she bruxes and boggles everytime I pick her up - Lilspaz has previously told me that a PT isn't painful to the rat, which is good. So Katie must enjoy the company, as she's now spending a lot of time on her todd.
 

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In mine and other people's shared experiences, its more that they are confused and unaware rather than in pain or discomfort. I find PT is harder for the owner than the rat. PT rats have passed away peacefully at home with me. I have them on the bed with me in the bottom of a carrier cage. I started this when my first PT case insisted I had to touch her at all times or she became frantic. I made a pillow brace for my hand and she rested watching me all night long. I would wake up every 30 mins and knew that she had passed when her bright eyes weren't watching me and she had curled up and gone to "sleep"
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Jezebel had another fairly decent night last night. She's definitely been hungry, and she was very active. She did a lot more running in circles, and it seemed to frustrate her, but she'd manage to straighten herself out and get going regardless.

My biggest worry is hydration. We're using baby food on the end of a syringe to get it into her. This morning she was unusually calm and let my husband hold her like a baby (which she never lets us do) and get a whole lot of water into her. I know the levels of her bottle aren't going down much, but if I put a bowl in there I'm afraid she'll knock it over. We work all day, so I'm worried about the times when we're gone. Any ideas on that?

Hopefully all the apple and grape she's eating will also assist with keeping her hydration levels up. While she's been able to eat the lab block, I went ahead and made up some Suebee's for her. I've never made it before, but she seemed to love it (and strewed it all around her tank). I'm not sure how much I should give her of the Suebee's each day because I still want her to eat her other food for better dietary balance.

She's cleaning herself pretty well, and rolls over now and again, but really seems to know how to adjust her balance. She seemed a little stronger and was climbing around (highly supervised) last night too.

In mine and other people's shared experiences, its more that they are confused and unaware rather than in pain or discomfort.
One thing I've noticed is just how aware she seems. She gets a little confused, but she doesn't run into things (except that **** water bottle in her cage, poor baby). I think the confusion in the tank is from being in a strange new home without any time to adjust.

By the way, thank you both so very much for your help and advice. I truly appreciate it, and it puts me far more at ease.
 

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I work all day too, without anyone at home to look after her. My schedule with Katie is to medicine/water her in the morning before work, leave her with some babyfood and a small dish of water (filled about 1/4 inch, I don't want her to fall in and drown or something!) during the day. I'll then medicine/water her when I get home, then once more and a final time before I go to bed. That's when she's at her worst, if she's doing quite well I'll only do it in the morning (depending on how much babyfood she's eaten) and about 2 hours before bed.

Also, what bedding do you have in the cage? I keep Katie on towels, as they're easy to clean (especially when she paints her cage with babyfood) and gives her more of a level floor to walk on. It seems to help her (and me) a lot.

Regarding awareness - Katie's usually quite aware (you can definately see it in her eyes) but it seems to be a motorskill problem. She'll KNOW she wants to eat something, she KNOWS where to find it .. but she can't put to and two together and understand HOW to eat it. Bless her. But, ironically, she's a lot more communicative towards me now. We've gotten into our routines where a nibble on my finger means she's ready for some more water/food, a wriggle means I have to pop my finger under her belly to help her balance to clean and a struggle means she wants to go potty (she absolutely refuses to go pee on me - no matter how much she needs to) so I have to pop her home in her cage to go. I don't know whether that's me getting used to her, or her getting used to me - but it works quite well :)

Lilspaz, I do pretty much exactly the same thing when I have sick little ones. They're in my bed (depending on their degree of mobility they're either in a cage on laying on my chest) and I'm up every half hour checking on them and giving them 'it'll be ok' kisses :(

-Edit- Sorry, I forgot to mention that you should be extra careful feeding her if she's on her back (I think that's what you mean when you say like a baby) it's easy (just like us) to choke or inhale some of the water :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm on a similar schedule with Jezebel. She gets her meds at 7am and 7pm. I haven't left baby food in the cage with her during the day because she was eating the Suebee's and block so well, but maybe I'll try it. (I'm a little worried about leaving it out all day, I don't want it to start spoiling.) I also have to find a way to secure a water dish, because she'll not only knock it over, but she doesn't understand drinking from anything but a bottle. We tried to let her drink some water from a glass but she ended up snorting it up her nose a little.

She's on her normal CareFresh bedding, but she has a ferret blanket in there to cuddle with. It seems like the bedding is a little hard for her to walk on, so I might consider switching to towels.

Jezebel is getting to her food okay. She'll take it, walk away sometimes, and come back to it, but she's always done that.

I'm kind of sad about not getting dribbled on. She doesn't pee on us per se, but she's always left little trails. She hasn't done that since Monday when we took her in. I never thought I'd miss it, but I know it means something isn't right.

She wasn't quite on her back when she was drinking earlier, but her butt was under her and she was reclined slightly on my husbands arm. So baby-like, but not full on her back. I should have clarified earlier.

I don't know how Jezebel would do on the bed. I'd be worried she'd fall off or get squished by my husband rolling over. Even with all her mobility problems, she rarely stops roaming around.
 

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I couldn't sleep with Katie at the moment..noooo way! She's still got enough marbles about her to wander around, but not enough to stop at the edge of the bed!

And the babyfood should be fine all day - some days I can leave it out (if I take it out of the fridge that morning) all day and night, then I'll change it the following morning. I know when it spoils because it starts to smell a little vinegary - but if you would want to leave it out while you're working, then change it when you get home, I can't see the problem with that.

You're very lucky she's eating her 'solids'. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'll leave her baby food tomorrow morning. I did give her some off of a spoon earlier today and she ate a slice of apple. She seemed to have more trouble with the apple, but she also seemed pretty sleepy.

I'm hoping we'll have a better grasp on which thing is wrong with her (PT or stroke) in the next few days. It's unfortunately too early to fully distinguish. I hate the waiting.
 

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For fluid and food I syringe strawberry ensure into them. it works very well. Just use a medicating syringe. :)



You can try watered down gatorade, but I prefer the Ensure or Boost myself. Just remember as soon as the bottle is opened, its only good in your fridge for 3 days, so I freeze it and thaw what I need :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I hadn't thought about freezing stuff, but that's a great idea. I should be able to do that with the rest of the baby food too. I was wondering what to do since it doesn't last as long.

If it still looks like she isn't getting enough fluids I'll pick up some Ensure. Those syringes are heaven-sent.
 

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Thanks Lilspaz, I've just had some ensure shipped over to me and was worrying about it's shelf-life once opened. I'm glad you said it's fine to freeze :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Again, thank you both for your help. Unfortunately, my baby had to be put to sleep last night. There's a thread in the rainbow bridge forum.
 
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