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Hello,

Yesterday I brought my rat Sicily home from the vet after surgery to get her lump removed. This would be my first ratty surgery experience. I didn't realize until after the surgery that her pulling at her sutures would be an issue. She opened the incision once, so when I brought her back they put a makeshift e-collar on her, made out of that x-ray plastic film stuff...

She looks miserable with the collar on, and she can still reach part of her sutures anyway. But maybe it has helped, because when I checked on her this morning, it didn't look like she had pulled any of them out again. I'm afraid she'll have trouble eating and drinking with it on. I can't monitor her 24/7 because I have a full time job. I'm really worried about her right now. I just want to do what I can to make recovery as comfortable as possible.

Any advice from people who've had trouble with rats pulling at their sutures? Or any other tips to make recovery as easy as possible? Maybe your vets have given you advice that my vet hasn't... Anything that might help the situation or ease my worries would be appreciated... :)

Thanks,

Jenn
 

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Does she have external sutures?

My vet does dissolvable internal sutures, surgical glue and occasionally staples (which I personally hate as do they).

How much did she open the incision? Was it bleeding? they often open them up afterwards.

Did your vet send you home with antibiotics or gave her an antibiotic shot? Did she send her home with painkillers? If it hurts they will pick at it, and I give my ratkids metacam for 1-3 days after surgery and they rarely touch their incisions.
 

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They gave her external stainless steel sutures. The vet said she would chew off anything else. They look really uncomfortable, and it seems she would love nothing more than to get them off her... I wouldn't know what other kinds of sutures they would use at this vet for a rat though.

I was pretty shook up when she opened the incision. I'm no vet, but something was hanging out of the opening... Something long, skinny, pink, and fleshy. It bled slightly. After they put the sutures back together, they just told me to watch her when I take the e-collar off to try and prevent her from pulling them out again. I guess I was too disturbed by the situation to ask what it was that was hanging out of the incision. There was no bleeding this morning, which seems like a good sign. I hope so anyway.

They sent me home with flavored antibiotics that I have to feed to her in a tiny syringe. I gave her some this morning, and she took to it okay. They told me yesterday they gave her a shot so I should start the antibiotic treatment today. I don't have any painkillers though.

I'm getting worried so maybe after I get home and check up on her I'll try and get a hold of the vet to make sure I'm doing everything right...

I really hope she doesn't open it again! If you have any tips, that'd be great... Thanks so much for responding.
 

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My rats hated the staples and would pull them out, opening the incision. Just remember that they heal amazingly fast...its almost scary how fast. 8O

What you have to worry about is if the internal incisions are holding...don't worry about external, they will close up on their own. Inside the incision should be the abdominal wall. If you can see that and it seems fine, you're okay. :) If the staples are holding but the external wound is opening, you are still okay.

Here is Selene 4 days after surgery, she's pulling staples out and the incision which should be almost healed by now is open still a little



Here is Rafiki without staples afterwards...the incision opened a little but was practically healed by the 4th day.

 

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I would also talk to the vet about getting her some painkillers. I also have used infant Tylenol with great success. It just seems to take the "edge" off and they leave the sutures alone. Check out www.ratfanclub.org/firstaid.html for dosing. Don't mix it with other painkillers if your vet does give you some. I also apply clove oil to sutures. It's edible but tastes bad, antibacterial and soothing. Use therapeutic grade form a health food store.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the advice! It's been very helpful. I will ask about painkillers for her. I hope the recovery goes okay from this point on.
 

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i wouldn't worry too much about it. the stuff hanging out of her may have been muscle or intestine, but if the vet didn't seem worried about it, i wouldn't worry either. muscle, like abdominal wall, will be fine with a little exposure, and intestine can be pushed right back in and it will sort itself out. it was probably just bleeding a little from suture edges and to keep whatever poked out moist to prevent the death of the tissues. :p ha, seems like such a big thing to laugh about, but i'm sure your ratty will be okay with some painkillers. i'm surprised they didn't give you any to start with though!
 
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