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My hairless girl Aoife (ee-fuh) has had chronic URI issues since she was a little baby. She's been on meds countless times, all different types and combos throughout her life, and earlier this year was on a 90 day course of meds. She's 2 years, 2 months old now. 3 of our rats from the other cage (their neighbors right next to them) started getting sick and I brought them all in for meds. They were put on doxycycline/enrofloxacin (baytril) combo. Aoife was also put on that because she started sounding worse lately too. She's been on those meds before, but despite studies showing the effectiveness of a certain dose, none of the vets wanted to start her out on that strength. But after 2 years of not too successful treatments, I decided to give her the dose I've read which is a little stronger than the recommended doses by the vets. Which I know is bad, and people should not self medicate without a vet knowing.

While nervously reading more about what I could possibly do to ease her awful sounding congestion and sinus wheezing that was getting worse and kinda scary sounding, I came across a few things that suggested allergies and liquid children's benadryl (also children's sudafed for just congestion, not allergies) so I thought, ok well I've tried everything else. Let's see if she maybe has allergies! So I started giving her a very very small amount of recommended rat dose of the liquid benadryl along with her antibiotics twice a day.

BUT she sounds a LOT better now! So much better that I'm very very suspicious. I feel like this is the "calm before the storm" or something. Like she's going to suddenly take a nose dive and get very sick. She's never sounded this good. She's always been snuffly, sneezy, and congested sounding her whole life, almost always making these "foo foo foo" sounds when she's awake, and snoring when she's sleeping. We even call her "ee-foo" isntead of "ee-fuh" sometimes because of how noisey she is. But she is so silent now it's weird!! I'd say she's lost about 70% of the sounds she normally would make, and only rarely sneezes and makes noises of any kind, and those noises are much quieter than "normal". But she still sounds congested if listening very closely and will still occasionally make these loud choking sneeze sounds (the vet wasn't sure what the noise was when she heard it, she assumed a buildup in her sinuses and she was giving a big snotty sneeze).

Should I be worried? This is so strange to me, I worry now that she's sounding ok. I need to get a refill on her meds later this week, so I can maybe see if the vet has an opinion on this too lol. Does anyone have an opinion on this? Am I being ridiculous for worrying that's she's sounding better after 2 years?
 

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I think I know what you mean. When my boys got URIs, no matter how long I kept them on doxy and baytril and everything, it would not go away. As soon as I stopped giving them meds every day the URI came right back. They ended up being on antibiotics their entire life up until the end when nothing worked anymore. At that point, I gave them some cough syrup (I think guaifenisen or whatever is approved for ratties) and- BOOM! - the symptoms went away immediately. It could be that, after being on meds her entire life, she's become resistant to them too, and the benedryl or sudafed is giving her relief of these symptoms. Either that or maybe she really does have allergies! I would assume you've already tried de-allergy-fying her cage or trying air purifiers and all that, since those can help with rat allergies. My one boy Checkers was a sneezer his entire life, on or off meds he would just always sneeze no matter what, unless I gave him sudafed :confused: If it works then it works! I'm just glad your girl is feeling better!
 

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I have not tried air purifiers, but the only thing I can think of that might cause allergies could be the hay that my rabbits have? They live on the other side of the room, so it's not right NEXT to them. But they live on fleece mostly, with a large litter box on the very bottom of their DCN cage that has aspen (supposedly safe since it's not soft wood) and shredded kaytee "clean and cozy" that is dust free. I'm not sure what else it could be, or even if it IS allergies. But one of the three things she is being given right now seems to be helping at least! I will also try the children's sudafed in the future if she gets honky again after getting off the ABs.

How did your boy react to the sudafed? Was he just sneezy and the sudafed helped him to stop? Did he have any congestion?
 

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I dont know much about meds but i agree with doctor owl on the resistance thing. Its also in humans where the virus is becoming resistant.
 

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I have not tried air purifiers, but the only thing I can think of that might cause allergies could be the hay that my rabbits have? They live on the other side of the room, so it's not right NEXT to them. But they live on fleece mostly, with a large litter box on the very bottom of their DCN cage that has aspen (supposedly safe since it's not soft wood) and shredded kaytee "clean and cozy" that is dust free. I'm not sure what else it could be, or even if it IS allergies. But one of the three things she is being given right now seems to be helping at least! I will also try the children's sudafed in the future if she gets honky again after getting off the ABs.

How did your boy react to the sudafed? Was he just sneezy and the sudafed helped him to stop? Did he have any congestion?
Do not give sudafed to rats! The decongestant you want is children's mucinex. The active ingredient is guiafenesin and should be the only active ingredient listed (make sure there's not added acetomenophen or anything). I got a store brand for my rats and they hate the grape flavor even when mixed with soy formula which is what I usually mix their meds with, so maybe look for a different flavor if you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This is where I read about using sudafed: http://ratguide.com/meds/respiratory_drugs/pseudoephedrine_hcl_.php

Why are you warning against using sudafed?

Here is what I found for guiafenesin: http://ratguide.com/meds/respiratory_drugs/guaifenesin_otc.php

Since her congestion is in her sinuses, wouldn't a sinus decongestant be more effective than a chest decongestant? There also seems to be more information on using sudafed.

I haven't tried either yet, she still is on just a little of benadryl twice a day along with her AB combos.
 

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I haven't had any issues with Sudafed either, I'm not sure what the problem would be. I found it on the same guide you posted and followed the dosage. It's just a nasal decongestant, so it stopped his sneezing. Checkers always had dry sneezes. I have no clue why. He would ONLY sneeze when he was cleaning his face (rubbing his hands over his nose) and also when he was first waking up after a nap. If they had "wet" sneezing or wheezing the guiafenesin helped more because it's an expectorant and helps loosen up mucus. Same with Mucinex. And, as I said before, when they got resistant to the antibiotics, it was the ONLY thing that gave them relief. Poor little guys!

As long as you follow the dosage and make sure it's the right kind- the guide you linked is what I also use, and it will specify what kind, like if you need Children's or whatever. Some of them will have extra ingredients that you don't want. For instance some cough syrups have Tylenol added in. I personally had never tried Benadryl since I could not for my life find the liquid kind. But if it works then good!

As for the allergies. I personally have found Kaytee to be dusty, even when it says dust free. Or do you have the shredded paper kind? You'd be surprised how much dust is really in that stuff. I started off using CareFresh with my boys until they were sneezing all the time, and found that I myself am actually allergic to it! Then I switched to Yesterday's Mews paper pellet litter, which is the same stuff I use for my cat so I always have a ton of it anyway. It is much MUCH less dusty, but there is actually still dust in there, I can see it when I get to the bottom of the bag. I should have switched to fleece but I felt the amount of work involved to keep it clean with 2 smelly boys was not worth it. But fleece is essentially allergen-free so your rats should be okay with that. As long as it's cleaned often enough because urine smell can irritate their noses. It could also be anything else in the room... perfumes, the window being open, dust from around the house... I think sometimes rat noses are really ridiculously sensitive. That's why I suggest an air purifier with HEPA filters. If you put it in the room, or near the cage, it'll help a lot. They're not too expensive, you can pick one up at Walmart for about $80. And they'll help you too, if you have your own allergies.

Personally I think it's their litter but that's just my guess. Update us if you happen to find any solution! :)
 
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