Rat Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone.

Sadly, one of my rats (Hamlet) is very sick. I've taken him to two separate vets, one of whom was a complete hack and despite what I was told over the phone had NO idea what he was doing. The other vet however was quite knowledgeable and I saw him twice with my baby, only to come home with very sad news. Hamlet is only two but despite my best efforts he doesn't seem to be getting better. He's going to be two in October, if he makes it that long.

The reason I'm posting here is, aside from just wanting comfort from people who have gone through this before, because I have a little bit of hope still... here's how it's been going.

The reason I took him in to his regular vet initially was simply because of a bump. It turned out to be a cyst, which he found to be infected. He prescribed Baytril and for a day or two things were going fine, but I gradually noticed Hamlet wasn't being very active, and then I realized he wasn't eating or drinking at all. Naturally, this worried me. For a few days I held pellets and grapes in front of him, because he couldn't hold them, and he would eat them, but eventually he stopped doing that too and I had to frantically google my next step... since then (about a week ago) he's been on a steady diet of baby food, administered through a needleless syringe, three times a day. I also have baby cereal and infant solution but I haven't given him that concoction yet.

I thought this would keep him with me for a few extra days but he'd pass quickly, because everything the two vets said suggested some kind of internal organ failure because of a preexisting condition. Heart disease, kidney failure... something like that. But it's been well over a week and a half and although he isn't getting better, he isn't getting worse, either. I don't have to force feed him, he takes the food happily but he just can't hold it. If I'm petting him it seems to give him enough energy to even groom himself and occasionally, well... masturbate? Tmi probably, but I would think he wouldn't have the energy... he even managed to finish yesterday...

His nails and paws seem to be getting kind of red but I think it's probably because he isn't cleaning them... still, if any of you have seen all these symptoms before, that might be relevant... He's also bleeding (or it may be porphyrin, did I spell that right?) out of only one eye. Very dark red. He is urinating regularly and I've even seen him passing poops, I have no idea what's happening.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. It really seems like he's leaving me but I want to believe someone will recognize this and be able to tell me of some magical treatment, lol... him and his cage mate Cravat are my first rats, and I really wasn't prepared for such a premature death... I have no idea what I'm going to do so Cravat isn't lonely :(. Sorry for such a long post, I wanted to be thorough.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
966 Posts
Is he still on baytril? He was fine before starting baytril? Has the infected cyst healed?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
581 Posts
Is it possible he might have a tumor that is causing him problems? Other than that, two years is pretty old for rats as far as I know and he may just be experiencing the deterioration of old age. I'm sure your wonderful care is helping him along if it is old age and really this is probably the only thing you can do if that is the case. Just make him as comfortable as possible. Please get another opinion on the tumor though, as I'm not really sure what all the symptoms might be of them and I don't want to mislead you. I wish you the best of luck though and I'll keep tabs on this thread to watch his condition. <3
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
@LeStan82: Yes and no. He was lethargic even before that, and has had a history of myco. He's been on Baytril to treat that several times, so I don't think it's an allergy. Are you thinking the Baytril could be causing some of the problems? At this point, I don't think it would really hurt to take him off of it.

The cyst has gotten smaller but no, it is not healed. In fact, the fur around and on the cyst has thinned out considerably, and although it's smaller, it looks much worse. This might be because of weight loss... he used to be a chubby little guy but now it's like he's wasting away...

@Sabatea: It's very possible :(. When I first googled the symptoms, pituitary tumor was the first hit... my vet said that's probably not what it is because that's a problem more common in females, but it definitely feels like it's neurological...

I really hope my care is making him more comfortable. If nothing else, I've kept him scraping along for an additional week and a half he wouldn't have had if I hadn't bought the baby food...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
966 Posts
I was thinking he may have effects from baytril but since he has had it several times before, then thats more than likely not it, so I would continue as directed for the infection. I dont really know how to help as far as to what is wrong with him. I would consult with the vet again or get another opinion. Sorry cant be more of help. Hope he gets better Best wishes...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Got it. I agree... the Baytril doesn't seem to be doing much, but as long as it can't hurt.

Another update: I noticed a new symptom. His testicles are extremely swollen. I'm not sure why I didn't notice... it wasn't until I compared him to his cagemate that I realized how big a difference in size there is. Maybe it isn't neurological. I may just check in with the exotic vet in my area... I've been avoiding it because generally my standard vet is very good with exotics and the exotic one is quite pricey, but it couldn't hurt, at least for my peace of mind.

Thanks again for the support, I'll try to keep dropping updates.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
When he struggles to eat is it because he cant grasp things with his front paws or because he is too weak overall to hold his body up and needs to support himself with a front paw or two. These are caused by 2 different conditions common in old age.

The first which is often accompanied by confusion, odd experssion, sitting staring into face and a gradual but very slow decline is normally a neurological issue, typically a pituartry tumour. Its not something they can recover from, however putting them on a decent dose of steroids (start of with injectable as a boost then on to tablets longer term) can give them back a good quality of life. With it being a brain tumour i tend to put to sleep earlier rather than leaving it too late. Once they start going down hill on the steroids theres no getting that quality of life back, so its often time to call it a day.

The second could be caused by a few things, if there front paws seem to be working ok but they drag there back feet (or they walk very flat footed) its typically caused by Hind leg degeneration. Its worth trying them on an antiinflammatory such as metacam in case its arthritus related but generally its a case of managing it with pleanty of soft foods, keeping them moving as much as you can, pleanty of omega oils and patience.

If its closer to the second but more that they seem exhausted and with no energy then its most likley to be either their heart or kidneys (these are the most common organ failures in older rats). A urine dip stick test done a decent length of time after his baby food will show how his kidneys are fairing (your looking out for high levels of protien in the urine), this is treatable by a low protien diet, phosphate binders (ipaktine is a good one) and a diuretic as long as hes drinking well (frusomide). Heart fairlure is harder to diagnose but trying him on a course of frusomide and fortekor (ace inhibitor) should show rapid improvement if its heart realted. In theory you can x-ray but this doesnt always show anything and you dont want to be knocking out a rat with heart problems.

Another option is linked with his swollen testicles, it could be that he has a systemic infection from the infected cyst getting into his blood stream (can happen if its burst internall). This sees a rat go down hill fast and often show syptoms of other parts of the body inflating, often around the joints, known as sceptic arthritis. With him being on baytril this is unlikley unless his dosage is too low or tha bacteria is baytril resistant. I would recommend moving him to amoxycillin (high end dose) if this si suspected as its a broader spectrum antibiotic and did save one of my guys lives when he got hit by this.

Finally there is the possibility of cancer in one or more of his organs, possibly having spread to his testicles. This will normally see the rat showing signs of pain and going down hill quickly. If the rat doesnt appear in pain i normally try and eleminate the other options first, but if i suspect it and they start looking in pain they get put on a high dose of a painkiller like metacam (cant be used in conjunction with steroids) and have them put to sleep asap, cancer does not end well and is a horrible thing for them to suffer through.

Hope that helps, its the main things i can think of and might be worth taking your vet through it. I've had older guys with all of these things at some point or another and am fairly used to spotting them now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thank you. He can't eat with his hands because he struggles to hold his body up. He can't groom or anything unless I'm supporting his back and giving him encouragement.

The decline was extremely fast. If pituitary tumors are slow, this shouldn't be that. That's at least comforting.

The thing that really confuses me is I didn't think two was old for rats. His cage mate is actually older by several months and is extremely energetic. I acknowledge that it might be his heart or kidneys, but it just feels so unlikely, unless it's something congenital.

Could it just be pain? I've noticed that every time he starts cleaning, he goes straight for his groin, and his penis will often come completely unsheathed and he'll have trouble getting it back in. I don't know if it looks normal because honestly, I have no idea what to expect. But to me it seems like it shouldn't be that swollen.

I've made a point to update the thread right now because I talked to my exotic vet and the price for a second opinion is $80. If I have a strong feeling he might pull back from this, I will happily pay that and go from there. But if it seems like there's no pulling back for another few months and his quality of life will just keep deteriorating, I'll go back to the first vet and tell them what I've been told by people in this thread in the hopes that they'll prescribe me the medications I request. I'm a student, and I'm feeling dizzy from the price x__x...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Quick update (I think the edit function for my last post expired): I've spoken to my standard vet over the phone and she's refused to prescribe amoxycillin or any other kind of penicillin because she's concerned about it killing good bacteria and eventually leading to his death. Still, since the infected cyst that started this is still there and his condition is fluctuating between better and worse over a long period, I feel like it's an infection that isn't being treated by Baytril (please, correct me if I'm wrong--I know nothing about pet health aside from what I've researched online). He's certainly not doing well but he's really no longer declining. It was a sudden decline and then a stable week and a half of the same condition as I handfeed him.

If my only two options are to let him die slowly (potentially in pain) or risk quick death with a strong antibiotic, I really feel like the latter would be preferable!

Oh, another thing that I forgot... my first vet actually had him on what I believe was metacam. He prescribed me four doses of it right after the sudden decline. It certainly didn't significantly improve his quality of life, but I think it might have made moving a little easier. It's hard to tell since maybe he's just declined a little further since running out of metacam.

Thanks again for the suggestions and support. I WILL be taking Hamlet to the exotic vet tomorrow morning at 9am so hopefully I have good news. Until then, I'm going to keep reading this thread, but I may not have time to respond.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
680 Posts
My vet said that BayTril is really hard on their kidneys and recommended that we avoid it unless completely necessary. Perhaps the BayTril is irritating his already old kidneys and causing the symptoms. Just a guess though. Do you have any other antibiotics? If so maybe try switchin him over for a few days and see if it makes any difference.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
from what you have said it sounds very like the syatemic infecting my boy had. fine one day abd then went down hill fast. i would offer to sign a disclaimer to get the amox, honestly most vets over here perscribe it as standard for abcesses and it can be a real life saver. i hope you can get your vet to do it. Though there may be places you can get it online in the us
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thank you so much. I'm really hoping that's what it is, because from what I can tell, that's really his best chance for getting his quality of life back.

Does anyone have any suggestions on a hand feeding diet that will prepare him for a stronger antibiotic? I want him to be as strong and well-nutritioned as I can manage.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
I love the following as a easy to eat meal for older rats

Cooked white rice (approx 100g dried)
*beat 1 egg through the rice
*add peas or other fave veg in small cubes or grated (avocardo and bannana are great for bulking up)
*microwave for about 1 min until the egg sets
*Take out and stir it up and let it cool
* add a portion to some baby foor or soya cream to make a sloppy mess (freeze the rest, i find about a table spoon does one meal, if he's only eat wet food then2-3 table spoons a day works well)
*add any vitamin powders etc you like and a few drops of good quality oil (linseed or flaxeed are great, failing that olive oil)
*If you can get it grate over some of a block of dried coconut cream (a nice calorie booster)
*Serve it to him, try offering it warm if hes picky.

You can then change the "flavour" by using different baby foods or cream each day, this can help keep them interested. Also you can feed occasional sweet baby foods too, rats often like weird mixes of sweet and savoury.

For a change you could use some flaked fish rather than egg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Back from the vet.

We didn't end up doing the blood work because I quite literally did not have the funds available, but she listened to me and really worked out a solution that I think gives him his best chance. She's currently treating him both for potential kidney failure (supplements and medications), and for the possibility of an infection with the antibiotic you recommended. I'm REALLY hoping it isn't kidney failure, but unfortunately that seems somewhat likely from what she said... She had absolutely no problem prescribing the stronger antibiotic, I'm not sure why my other vet was so adamant about refusing. She also gave him a shot with some fluids to rehydrate him, and I think the final medication she gave me was some pain medication since he really seems to be uncomfortable.

She also sent me home with hand feeding instructions because I was definitely not using the right baby food. I think I'll try what you've described, especially since I expect him to show a little more interest in food once the pain meds kick in, along with the baby foods she suggested.

I'll keep you guys posted if he shows any improvement. I'm really trying to stay positive!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
She sounds a good vet. i hope it helps. To be honest at his age kidney degeneration is likley any way and you add in him being on meds and it doesn't help. Saying that they can live a good long time happily with this if you adjust his diet. The eggy rice thing is kidney friendly so should help
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Sorry it's been a long time since my last post, it's been kind of a hectic week.

Hamlet is still alive. He hasn't turned around, but his condition is stable. I'm still hand feeding him. He can't hold food, but he shows a lot of interest in the food I offer him through a syringe and really eats a lot if I don't cut him off eventually (I don't want to give him weird poops or a stomach ache, haha).

It's definitely the kidney. I'm going to finish the full run for the antibiotic and then drop it. I think I'll keep him on the pain meds, just to keep him comfortable. That and the kidney stuff are the only meds I'm going to keep him on... he also has two natural supplements from the vet that I'm sure can't do any harm but might do some good so I'll leave him on those. He moves around (shakily and with awful balance) quite a bit and doesn't seem to be too down about this, all things considered... my plan is to keep hand feeding him until he either starts refusing food or passes away on his own. I'm not absolutely opposed to euthanasia and will do it if he seems to be in terrible pain or won't eat but it's just a really awful and hard decision that I'd rather not make if it isn't absolutely necessary.

I really appreciate everyone's support and suggestions along the way.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
HUgs, such a shame. If its any consolation ive found rats with advanced kidney failure dont seem to suffer at all. Useually they go a bit quieter and appear to put on a bit of weight then pass on in there sleep. As these things go its not a bad way to go. I would probably drop the pain meds and see if it bothers him as they will accelerate the kidney failure, he might be more comfy off them. I hope you both have a happy remaining time together
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top