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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My boy Malcolm fell very ill with a resp infection 1 week ago. He has been on Baytril and Doxycycline since that time. He's only 1.5 yrs.
He refused to eat or drink for the first 2 days, no matter how hard I tried. He made a breakthrough on day 3 and actively suckled quite a bit of soy baby formula from a syringe. With the help of a bronchodilator he has gotten his appetite back, but it seems like he doesn't know how to chew solids anymore. He has progressed from soy baby formula to smooth baby foods, but will only eat them if he can lick them off the floor, out of the side of his mouth that I insert the syringe for medication/formula feeding (because I'm right-handed). I'm worried this is my fault and is a learned behavior. I've tried switching hands and feeding from other side, but I can't push the syringe with my left and squirt meds everywhere.
I know it has only been 1 week, but I'm worried he will never go back to eating pellets/blocks. I don't think he's getting enough calories and nutrients on formula and baby food. I tried Ensure Plus to pump some extra calories in, but he hates it and won't take any. The fact that he will eat the baby food is the most important thing though.
Has anyone else dealt with this? Is it possible that he suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen, and just can't eat normally anymore? (That would be hard to believe, because he otherwise seems normal neurologically). Help!! ???
 

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There was a post a while back, one of the memebers here had a problem with her rat not eating, ended up the poor thing had teeth problems. My rat too had problems with solids for a bit, and only ate his oxbow if he was stupid hungry. Found out (he had a fall)the vet said he knocked his teeth loose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Update: spoke with the vet about this and she suggested that if he's willing to eat puree baby food I should try crushing pellets/blocks and mixing them in, first a very small amount and then increase slowly over a few days.
So I did. I soaked a handful of pellets and blocks in boiling water, broke them apart with a knife, then crushed them very fine (paste-like) with a mortar. I mixed this in with the baby food and fed it to him. He had no trouble chewing the tiny specks of soy meal/pellet stuff, and afterwards had the first normal sized poops since he got sick. It was a miracle!! I will keep increasing the ratio of "golden mash" (as I'm now calling it) to baby food until he is eating pure mash, then hopefully we can progress back to solid pellets.

A lot of websites I had read before suggested the baby food method for rats refusing to eat or not eating solids, but my vet explained that the issue with that is they are essentially empty calories, in that they have to eat large volumes to come even close to the number of condensed calories pellets/blocks provide, and they're stomachs are too small to hold such volumes. So even if he were to fill up on the baby food he would not match his caloric needs, hence why he was having teeny tiny poops.
 

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You can try soaking the oxbow. Don't use much water, it absorbs very fast. For about a day or so after my rats surgery she only wanted Oxbow if it was pretty spongy.
 

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I almost lost my Chai when she stopped eating. Turned out she just broke her teeth and couldn't eat properly. What I did to ease the transition back to solids was crush up the Oxbow pellets and put it in baby food. Every feeding I made sure to change the ratio of baby food to Oxbow to make it more and more solid each feeding.

It is a little bit of a pain but it worked for Chai and I!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the advice, everyone! :))
I followed up with my exotic vet and mentioned this, and she said THE EXACT same thing! She suggested that if he will eat baby foods, that I crush up his pellets and mix it in, first a very small amount and then increase it as he tolerates it. I altered a bit (based on Vegn's suggestion) and heated a small amount of water - though not to boiling, just in case it might strip nutrients - then poured it over a handful of Oxbow Regals and Harlan Teklad blocks. Then I just broke them apart with a knife, let them soak, and crushed them with the bottom of a drinking glass until they formed a nice paste. I filled an empty baby food container with the stuff and every day mixed a bit more in with a separate jar of his favorite baby food (usually peas). Within 3 days he had "remembered" how to chew, and maybe how delicious his pellets were before he got sick and stopped eating, because he graduated to the real stuff. I still offer him the BF/pellet paste mix, but he's been filling up on his blocks and is gaining some weight back - yippeee!!
Still no answer for why he was only eating the mix from the right side of his mouth, but it at least seems to have resolved. That side has had the most issues with his illness (was flopping/dragging right hand around due to dehydration, lots of porphyrin in right eye, etc), so I wondered if it either had to do with the dehydration and accompanying weakness as well or perhaps worst congestion on that side of face. Either way, he seemed and still seems completely normal neurologically otherwise.
 
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