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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I have a two year old male dumbo rat who is the sweetest rat we've ever had. Over the past few months, I've noticed him beginning to lose weight. It seems like he's always been one to have some respiratory issues, from the time he came home with me. It's never really affected him much, just the occasional sneeze. But lately, he's become more lethargic, and occasionally wakes me up at night from the sound of him having a coughing fit. I've checked him over for any signs of cancerous tumors, and there are none. Whenever I hold him up to my ear, his lungs sounded good to me. On Friday, we took him to an emergency vet because he had a strange lump on his foot that opened up and wouldn't stop bleeding. The vet prescribed antibiotics and pain killers by syringe for 7 days.

During the visit, she mentioned that his lungs sounded harsh, and that she was more concerned about that then she was his foot. She said that the only option would be to x-ray him, however, and that she recommended I make an appointment with an exotic vet.

Overall, his appetite is still good, and he gets around pretty well. He still seems very curious and active whenever we get him out to play.

I'm hoping someone can tell me what might be going on with him. I absolutely do not put a price tag on my pets' lives, but this is looking like something that could get very expensive very quickly. The visit on Friday night was $130, and although I don't have much money at all, I didn't mind spending it to get him the care he needs. My concern is that I may be spending a lot of money to find out that there isn't anything I can do to get him healthy again. And I say this because that has been my experience with every rat I've had before. I take them to the vet and the vet essentially tells me that they can do this, this, and this, and in the end, the rat is still going to die.

What do you think is the best course of action? He's only two, and that seems young to be having these issues.
 

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Can't your vet just prescribe antibiotics without getting an X-ray? My girls have been on 2 courses of meds and the second time, they weren't required to be seen. Don't know if that's good or bad, but I just had to pay got the meds. Maybe you can request a course of antibiotics and tell the vet that if there is no improvement in a week, then you'll consider further options.
 

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You said he was two? Two is actually rather old for a rat. Most don't live longer than two. Sometimes they may surprise you and live to three, but that's a bit rare. What you're seeing is likely old age. That doesn't mean you shouldn't treat him, however, as any chance he has to continue living a good life is one that you should take. If he's having trouble breathing, you may want to nebulize. I have a few links if you'd like them. My girls are on amoxicillin for maintenance of their sniffles and it seems to be keeping it down nicely. You may want to see if you can get your hands on some bird antibiotics if you can't get to the exotics vet very soon. Also, in elderly rats there can be a lot of joint issues and such, which might be why you said his foot seems to be having trouble. I would rearrange his cage to make sure that it's all easy access for him, as it can aggravate his joints if he has to climb everywhere. I would also recommend mixing a little bit of nopal cactus juice in his water (you can pick it up at your health food store, vitamin shop, and even a lot of grocery stores). It's been shown to reduce inflammation in humans and apparently reduced free radical damage to brain cells in lab rats. Blueberries are also very good for inflammation and yummy treats for old guys : )
 

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As for the foot, it sounds almost like an abscess...? I've never had experience with them because my girls are very young, but they are common in older rats. If it's an open wound I would try to keep it clean for the next few days as well. Applying raw honey to it might be a good idea if he won't strain himself to lick it off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I agree, the foot did seem like an abscess, though I don't know what caused it. It's looking a lot better today. Definitely smaller.

I'd be interested in the nebulizer links. I actually own a nebulizer for my own use, because I have asthma. I'm hoping the antibiotics help with the breathing issues as well, but I'm not very optimistic considering he's been on them since Friday and is still having coughing fits every so often.

I'm honestly surprised to hear that two is old, though...These are the second pair of rats I've owned, but my first two girls lived almost four years. I thought the lifespan of a mouse was typically two years, while a rat was around three. My other male, who is the same age, seems completely healthy and is a very good weight.
I'll look around and see if I can find the cactus juice, and will definitely try the blueberries. We also have been rearranging the cage to accommodate his stiffness, since he seemed to be having some difficulty getting to the top shelf where his food had been located.
 

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Wow, I love hearing about rats who live that long! It gives me hope that maybe my girls will be around for a while. I also have asthma, so I had a nebulizer on hand already and I can tell you that without using it on my girls, they probably would not have made it. They were very sick when I got them and I had no idea, but a couple of days later they worsened to the point that I thought I'd lose Daisy. I didn't have any other medicines beyond my own albuterol vials and made a rag-tag saline solution to dilute it with. It worked wonders. Some also nebulize antibiotics with it, I believe. In a pinch I hear you can use just a saline solution and it can help.

Here are some links:

http://ratfanclub.org/nebuliz.html

http://www.rmca.org/Articles/albuterol.htm

http://archietherat.com/nebulization.html

http://ratguide.com/meds/respiratory_drugs/albuterol_sulfate.php

http://fattyratty.tripod.com/id51.html

http://www.ratfanclub.org/firstaid.html

The last link is good information if you're in a pinch because you can simply use a human inhaler in a cardboard tube to administer albuterol if the circumstances get pretty dire. As for building a chamber to nebulize your rats in, you can use almost anything that they will stay in. I had a plastic storage box that I cut holes in that I put on top of them and put the nebulizer tube through. The experience wasn't pleasant for either of us, but it helped them pull through!
 
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