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Discussion Starter #1
I have a rat that seems to have chronic health issues. Whether she is simply very unfortunate, or has very poor genetics, I don't know.

What I do know is that no matter what we feed her, she will not gain any weight. She is maybe a year old, and completely thin. She is of a larger build compared to my first rat, but when it comes to weight I'd say the tiny one would win. Milly, the one who will not gain weight, is rail thin. She's not just skinny, she's frail. You can feel each of her ribs just by picking her up, and I can see the muscles in her stomach when I hold her upright. Even the tendons in her legs stick out and you can see them expand and contract when she walks.

She does not seem to have the interest in food that any of the others have. Nothing tempts her unless she is practically starving. Sweets, peanut butter, vegetables, you can put all of it right in front of her face and she won't even register it.

We've been giving her the same mix the others have, only we now give her whatever will make her eat. Cake, cookies, french fries, anything that will get her to just eat something.

Even when she does eat though, she doesn't gain weight. She's been eating cake and cookies and bits of our sweets for longer than a week now. We give her whatever she wants. She doesn't gain an ounce, she's gotten skinnier.

When I first bought her, she was a normal weight. She was fed on a bulk seed mix, mostly bird food, sunflower seeds and dried corn. Now she's gone away virtually to nothing, and I don't know what to do, or what's wrong with her.

I'm worried she's going to die very soon if nothing is done. I want to take her to the vet again, but I want answers before I do.
 

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Feeding empty calories will only exacerbate her malnutrition, you should think dense high calorie like avacado, yogurt,grind meat into paste,ensure etc.
also check out this product its for animals who are malnourished, I use it and it works.
WWW.SeaCureforpets.com/
 

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Those are things that will burn off fast. Try baby cereal with Boost or Ensure (strawberry is the only one my rats will eat), baby food, try to pick up Nutrical since thats wonder for putting weight back on.

Have you checked her teeth? Does she have a foul smell coming from her mouth which could indicate an abscess?

How long have you had her, how old is she?

Is she drinking? Try Ensure/Boost on its own if she'll drink (its a food/fluid thing).

Poor girly. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've had her about three months, I'd say she's a little over a year old right now.

I'll try some of the things you've recommended, though it's often getting her to eat at all that's the problem.

I've smelled her breath and there doesn't seem to be any foul odour, though perhaps she just needs something to grind her teeth down on. She does really like hard bread, and that's something for her to chew.
 

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I would definitely check her teeth. I have a few rats that I need to keep their teeth trimmed or they stop eating. One lost quite a bit of weight before I figured it out. He didn't have an abscess, so there was no foul smell. Their teeth just get too long and they can't chew right. I trim them with a sharp nail clippers, I got the directions online. You can also have your vet do it. Someone on the forums recommended Nurtri-Cal also. It's a weight gainer, and seemed to help. Good luck!
 

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I don't want to sound rude by saying this, but your rat sounds pretty sick, why waste time posting this when she should be checked out by a vet? Maybe she has worms and maybe she is eating when you're not around and just can't get any bigger because of the worms?! I'd bring her to the vet they should know whats up.
 

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Yeah, she needs to see the vet again.

But... asking about what kind of food's good to help a rat gain weight is a good, and very valid question. I'm dealing right now with a rat that keeps losing weight (yes, she saw the vet yesterday, before people freak out) and it's definitely a battle with her to keep her at a normal weight.

My girl's got permanently damaged lungs, and the vet said she's essentially living on a treadmill in comparison to other rats. It's just harder for her body to do the same things. And she's an avid wheel runner who runs for hours every night, too!

So yeah, go back to the vet. She must have advanced myco, pneumonia, worms, or something like that which keeps her from having an appetite & keeping her weight on. Good luck, and I hope you can find a cause that doesn't mean an untimely death. :(
 

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does she absolutely need a wheel? maybe you could find her a different toy because if you ask me a wheel to a rat could be a lot like a treadmill is to a human...
 

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She lives with 5 other rats... all avid wheel runners. She's spent hours on her wheel every day since she was 3 weeks old, and to take her primary form of exercise/amusement away would be cruel... not to mention to the other rats she lives with, who have no such problems.

They also have plenty of other toys, which get changed regularly, and they aren't very interested in them. They like the wheels much more. And yes, the cage is large enough. They're in one level of the FN with extra homemade shelving on the top so that there's plenty of surface area. They have lots of hammocks, swinging things to hang in, stuff to climb on, etc.

I'm taking her aside specially to feed extra nutritious food every day, and giving her treats when I pass by the cage. I'm going to pick up some Ensure next time I'm out, too. She's about 50g less than her normal weight right now, so she's not skin & bones or anything. And she's acting normally, good appetite, etc. Just isn't keeping the weight on.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I haven't taken her to the vet because I know the answers I'm going to get there won't be much better than the answers that I get here.

She will never be a healthy rat. She was ill when I bought her, and she will continue to be ill. She is a pet store rat. She was not bred for health, and she will always have health problems. I'm not taking her to the vet every time something comes up. It's just not going to happen. It makes no sense. It's a waste of money, and a waste of my time, not to mention a useless endeavour that's just more undue harassment for Milly.

Thank you for the responses. I would be inclined to lean towards either damaged lungs or teeth that need to be clipped, or both. She has always been very timid and weak compared to my other rats, so damaged lungs seems like it would make a lot of sense. She prefers to nap more than anything, which leads me to believe she just doesn't have the energy or strength to run around like the others.
 

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There is also this stuff I used with good results, its called Lung Caps by Soloray. It is made from Raw freeze dried lung that comes from a safe free range herd, homeopathics + herbs. Its supposed to rebuild damaged lungs.
It only cost about $8, and had a definate effect on my smallest who was sick always.
If you try it, open a capsule and put a pinch in something like a little pudding or yogurt.
Good luck with your Rat.
Spider
 

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i hope shes not showing signs of pain, because if you're not willing to take her to the vet and shes in pain it wouldn't be very fair for her, if shes constantly sick maybe euthanasia is your best option,...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
2manyrats said:
Does she show any respiratory symptoms? Funny noises when breathing?
Yes, she has chronic respiratory problems. I've taken her to the vet for it already, and there is nothing that can be given to her to cure it. She will have it for the rest of her life. When it seems out of hand I treat it myself with steam and dark chocolate.

She wheezes from time to time, sneezes every now and again, and there are often rasping sounds with her breathing when she lies on her side. It's very similar to asthma in humans. She just doesn't know not to lie on her side.



Spider said:
There is also this stuff I used with good results, its called Lung Caps by Soloray. It is made from Raw freeze dried lung that comes from a safe free range herd, homeopathics + herbs. Its supposed to rebuild damaged lungs.
It only cost about $8, and had a definate effect on my smallest who was sick always.
If you try it, open a capsule and put a pinch in something like a little pudding or yogurt.
Good luck with your Rat.
Spider
Can you purchase it over the counter, or do you need it prescribed by a vet? I don't mind going in to get it, I just need to know.

renay said:
i hope shes not showing signs of pain, because if you're not willing to take her to the vet and shes in pain it wouldn't be very fair for her, if shes constantly sick maybe euthanasia is your best option,...
Every now and again, she will brux very loudly, which I've read in a few places is a way of dealing with pain, which she often does after she's been lying on her side for a long time. She stops when she's uprighted.

I'm not having her killed. My girlfriend has bad respiratory problems (severe asthma) that often leave her in serious pain, and I wouldn't have her killed.

There is a difference in euthanising an animal that is in severe pain at all times, and one that has genetic problems. Euthanasia is a mercy we can give them that they can't do for themselves. They have no choice, and it's not something to do lightly. She has health problems, but not anything that would lead me to have her killed.
 

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Your rat is burning so many calories just trying to breathe that the flesh melts off of her. I have had it happen before. You need to get a lot of weight gain foods into her to fight that snowball effect. :(

If she's a wheel runner and she loves it then do not take it away from her. There's obviously not much left in her life she enjoys, since breathing can be so awful and she has no appetite.

My weight gain/sickie/oldie recipe was baby cereal, Boost or Ensure, a bit of olive oil, and a smidge of Enervite (dog supplement similar to Nutrical and Ferretvite).

When things became more serious I would start every 2nd day injections of gentocin and dexamethasone which helped the inflamed lungs. This was always palliative care until it was time to help them pass. Respiratory is a horrible way to die and they can linger forever with it...suffering.

And please do not bring up the human factor. Your gf is sick, but I bet she gets meds/treatments to make her feel better? She can tell you when she is not feeling well, or go to a hospital if something awful happens. Rats endure, most times you will never know how much pain they are in, or how sick they are because they hide it. They are a prey animal and if a prey animal is obviously ill, they attract predators and get killed. Please think of this carefully because it does sound like your rat may need to be pts in the future and you will not recognize when she is ready. :(
 

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^^^ I agree, and yes you're right that it is not something to be taken lightly, but an animal that has been sick for their whole life and will remain sick for their whole life, you have to ask yourself how much can you allow it to endure?
 

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You can buy Lung Caps at any health food store, or they can get it. I am recommending it cause of the good luck I've had with it, but it should not replace whatever your Vet recommends.
If you have a really sick animal the Vet comes first, I used Lung Caps with antibiotics and it helped. I also put a pinch in their oatmeal in the AM for prevention.
There is an older woman who is a master herbalist in my town, she has a shop and I was looking around and explained I had a very sick Rat with Myco problems. She told me her son had almost died with Myco and pneumonia and the Lung Caps saved his life, she really liked the stuff.
I hate recommending things cause I feel responsible in a way, but I feel for your Rat, so I 've given my suggestion.
Spider
 

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Discussion Starter #20
lilspaz68 said:
Your rat is burning so many calories just trying to breathe that the flesh melts off of her. I have had it happen before. You need to get a lot of weight gain foods into her to fight that snowball effect. :(

If she's a wheel runner and she loves it then do not take it away from her. There's obviously not much left in her life she enjoys, since breathing can be so awful and she has no appetite.

My weight gain/sickie/oldie recipe was baby cereal, Boost or Ensure, a bit of olive oil, and a smidge of Enervite (dog supplement similar to Nutrical and Ferretvite).

When things became more serious I would start every 2nd day injections of gentocin and dexamethasone which helped the inflamed lungs. This was always palliative care until it was time to help them pass. Respiratory is a horrible way to die and they can linger forever with it...suffering.

And please do not bring up the human factor. Your gf is sick, but I bet she gets meds/treatments to make her feel better? She can tell you when she is not feeling well, or go to a hospital if something awful happens. Rats endure, most times you will never know how much pain they are in, or how sick they are because they hide it. They are a prey animal and if a prey animal is obviously ill, they attract predators and get killed. Please think of this carefully because it does sound like your rat may need to be pts in the future and you will not recognize when she is ready. :(
It's my own personal belief that animal life is as valuable as human life. Euthanasia in humans in extreme pain is still considered murder. If a patient asks a doctor to unplug a a support system that allows them to carry on living, the doctor is not allowed to do it. It's murder. Think about that for a bit.

She will more than likely need to be euthanised further on in life. I'm fully aware of that. I'm also as fully aware of her health as I can be. I know the signs she shows when she is in more pain than usual. I know she is not unhappy. You know your own rats, not mine. As much as I appreciate the advice, I know my rat and I know killing her would be wrong.

My girlfriend gets medication, yes, as all humans do. But your point doesn't apply. You just told me humans get medications while rats don't, and then went on to elaborate on the medications and treatments you gave your rat.

They can't talk to us, but they communicate to us.

Based on the replies I've read here, the most I'll do within the next two weeks or so is take her to the vet for a check-up and buy her some of the foods/medications recommended here.
 
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