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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My boyfriend and I got 2 female dumbo rats on Saturday from a local pet store (they are about 5 weeks old). Despite knowing better and wanting to adopt from a breeder, we kept coming to visit these 2 and fell in love with them. Yooka, the larger of the 2 had been having some issues with sneezies and a bit of porphyrin around her nose, but the store had been giving them antibiotics and they seemed fine when we visited them last time before bringing them home (the animal manager attributed the respiratory issues to them being in a tank). Laylee, the smaller one never showed any porphyrin or sneezing (that we knew of). They were both always active, eating and drinking. The store had them on a hamster/gerbil seed mix which made their poos orange and very smelly, and Laylee's were a bit runny. As soon as we brought them home we got them on the Oxbow young rat/mouse blocks, which has made their poos solid and dark brown. We've also been giving them some baby rice puffs (strawberry apple flavor) as treats. They are in a double critter nation with fleece liners and Kaytee clean and cozy bedding in the litter box.

Late Wednesday night Laylee suddenly started seeming a bit disoriented, wobbly, and slow. She would squeak excessively whenever Yooka groomed her or she was touched anywhere but her head. She was acting completely normal just hours before. Thursday morning, she was very lethargic and still having the other issues, so I took her to the vet (one experienced with exotics, but one I have not seen before as our regular vet was in surgeries all day). The vet looked her over, listened to her breathing, looked in her eyes and ears, palpated her, everything. He thought that perhaps she might be constipated from the antibiotics that the pet store had been giving them, so he prescribed her some meds to help her poop, as well as yogurt twice a day. They also gave her a subcutaneous fluid injection. After getting her home, I promptly gave her the first dose of meds, and within hours noticed soft/slightly wet looking poops. They told me to discontinue the meds as soon as she started pooping (but to continue with the yogurt) so I did just that. Throughout all of this, she has still been occasionally moving about her cage (almost as if she can't get comfy) and eating. I haven't seen her drinking though, so yesterday I gave her a small amount of gatorade and I've also been giving her water in a syringe every few hours, which she accepts and drinks.

This morning when I went to check on her she seemed a bit more perked up than she has been, but still extremely wobbly. I want to say that she might have a very, very slight head tilt? It's barely noticeable if she does have one... but I could be imagining it. She can still grasp things with her front paws just fine, but is very uncoordinated and off-balance when walking. Her cagemate Yooka has been acting completely normal still, and they are both still sleeping together and grooming one another.

Even though I've been to the vet already, I'm worried about a possible ear infection or something else. He did look in her ears, but I'm still paranoid about an inner ear infection because of how wobbly and off-balance she is.... I don't know that being constipated would do this? Should I get a second opinion from another vet? What do you guys think?
 

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Well, I can't say for sure if your rat has an inner ear infection or not, but I can give you my experience with one? Neera started showing signs of an inner ear infection when I first got her. She developed a head tilt, started having balance problems, and her eye appeared a bit swollen and red. I noticed it because she kept veering to one side, to the point that she'd topple out of the wheel sometimes. When I lifted her and turned her slightly, she would roll completely over, maybe even twice, to stabilize herself again. Her head tilt was not terrible, but I definitely noticed something was off about her, and her eye looked almost infected.

My vet prescribed me Baytril to treat it, and it worked very well for her, but he didn't prescribe me enough. He gave me a weeks worth after staring at her for a while and sort of grumbling about how he supposed he could see her head tilt (He was a very bad vet). Her symptoms improved greatly during the week, but they returned with a vengeance when I ran out of medicine. My vet also claimed her ears seemed clean, but he didn't do a very deep check either.

If you think she has an ear infection, I would act quickly. Ear infections let alone can actually kill a rat and they can cause lasting effects (Neera has a permanent head tilt and her balance is still not great after over 6 months). I would also get 3-4 weeks of medication, just to be absolutely certain that the infection gets taken care of. I wouldn't want to see another rat have a rebound like Neera had. :3 I would take her back in to a vet as soon as you can. ^^
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, I can't say for sure if your rat has an inner ear infection or not, but I can give you my experience with one? Neera started showing signs of an inner ear infection when I first got her. She developed a head tilt, started having balance problems, and her eye appeared a bit swollen and red. I noticed it because she kept veering to one side, to the point that she'd topple out of the wheel sometimes. When I lifted her and turned her slightly, she would roll completely over, maybe even twice, to stabilize herself again. Her head tilt was not terrible, but I definitely noticed something was off about her, and her eye looked almost infected.

My vet prescribed me Baytril to treat it, and it worked very well for her, but he didn't prescribe me enough. He gave me a weeks worth after staring at her for a while and sort of grumbling about how he supposed he could see her head tilt (He was a very bad vet). Her symptoms improved greatly during the week, but they returned with a vengeance when I ran out of medicine. My vet also claimed her ears seemed clean, but he didn't do a very deep check either.

If you think she has an ear infection, I would act quickly. Ear infections let alone can actually kill a rat and they can cause lasting effects (Neera has a permanent head tilt and her balance is still not great after over 6 months). I would also get 3-4 weeks of medication, just to be absolutely certain that the infection gets taken care of. I wouldn't want to see another rat have a rebound like Neera had. :3 I would take her back in to a vet as soon as you can. ^^
Thank you for sharing your experience (although I'm sorry you had to go through that)! About how long did your Neera have the symptoms for before she was treated? I've been watching Laylee closely but I don't know that she has a head tilt for sure... I think she is just really off-balance (she fell over once just now while I was observing her). Although this just started on Wednesday night, so it may be very early on? I'm not sure, but I called the vet again and he's supposed to call me back in a bit. I'm going to discuss her symptoms with him and bring up the possibility of an ear infection.
 

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Neera's original symptoms went on for about a week to a week and a half before I was able to bring her in. Then, she went another week or two after her first week dose before I went back to a new vet and got more. Like you, I wasn't too sure about the head tilt, but her other symptoms said something was wrong. You know her better than anyone, so if you feel that she may have a head tilt, it's likely that she actually does. When your vet calls you back, express all of your concerns and mention things like the food and bedding you use if you want. The more information they have, the better.
http://ratguide.com/health/auricle_ear/otitis_media_otitis_interna_labyrinthitis.php
This is also very helpful. :3 I really hope it all turns out well for you, and that this is a simple ear infection and nothing worse. I hope your vet calls soon so you can get her some help. <3
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Today we took Laylee to the vet again. I realized that I was wrong about the head tilt, and it was more that her head was just spastically moving all over the place. She had also started circling in small circles occasionally. This video show pretty well about how she was acting (as far as head movements go anyways; she is much more wobbly than the rat in the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e82xsNeCd88

In the comments of that video they say that they learned it was a stroke, and the rat ended up passing away about a month later. After seeing this and reading about other symptoms I started to suspect a possible stroke, and I mentioned this to the vet. He looked her over really well and observed her movements and said that he didn't think it was a stroke, but multiple small seizures. He said it was likely a genetic thing. We now have medicine that we're giving her twice a day to help but we won't know if it's going to help for about 2 weeks (it needs to build up in her system). It is something that she will need to be on for the rest of her life.

The vet assured me that she shouldn't be in pain from the seizures, just probably very confused. He said that even if the medicine doesn't help, so long as she is eating, drinking, pooping, active and not loosing weight, there is no reason to euthanize her. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the medicine will work, but either way we will take care of her whatever it takes, so long as she is not losing quality of life. For now all we can do is take care of her and watch to see if she improves.
 

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I'm so sorry for you... I am very glad however that she fell into your hands. At least she has someone who was willing to look into her symptoms and do their very best to give her a good life. I'm glad it wasn't a stroke and that there is medicine to help her get through this. I'll send good wishes your way and hope for the very best from this.

Is the medicine going to help her balance/current symptoms or is it simply going to keep future seizures away?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm so sorry for you... I am very glad however that she fell into your hands. At least she has someone who was willing to look into her symptoms and do their very best to give her a good life. I'm glad it wasn't a stroke and that there is medicine to help her get through this. I'll send good wishes your way and hope for the very best from this.

Is the medicine going to help her balance/current symptoms or is it simply going to keep future seizures away?
Although it's terrible that it happened to her, and a bit expensive for us, I am glad that we got her, because I'm sure the pet store would have euthanized her had they noticed it happening... and I'm sure a lot of other people wouldn't have been up for dealing with it. But yes, she's only a baby still... and I see no reason why we shouldn't try our best to still give her a good life for as long as she is with us.

The medicine is basically meant to prevent future seizures from happening (assuming it works for her, it might not), or at least to lessen them. I don't know that it will help with the balance issues, but the doctor said that some rats bounce back or just get used to it. We will just have to wait until the medicine can build up in her system until we know if it will help her or how much it will help her. We're holding out hope that she'll be able to lead a semi-normal life at least.
 

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Ah, I see. I wish it were easier on you... Hopefully things will get better though, and she bounces back like others have. It's not quite the same, but Neera's head tilt left her with some balance issues. She has improved over time and she can now run across small edges/slanted areas with ease and it's gotten fairly rare for her to slip anymore. I do hope your sweet girl is able to overcome this. It'll be hard for you I'm sure, but thank you for doing what you can to help her. I'm sure she appreciates it as well. <3
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ah, I see. I wish it were easier on you... Hopefully things will get better though, and she bounces back like others have. It's not quite the same, but Neera's head tilt left her with some balance issues. She has improved over time and she can now run across small edges/slanted areas with ease and it's gotten fairly rare for her to slip anymore. I do hope your sweet girl is able to overcome this. It'll be hard for you I'm sure, but thank you for doing what you can to help her. I'm sure she appreciates it as well. <3
Yes, we're definitely keeping our fingers crossed that the medication will make a difference for her! I know we're not supposed to see a difference for a couple weeks, but today she seemed less wobbly to us.

Hearing that Neera has gotten used to the changes and learned to adapt to them does make me feel better. The doctor said that some rats will get used to disabilities and still be able to lead normal lives, so it's encouraging to know that even if her balance issues don't go away, she may still be able to deal with them anyways.
 
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