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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As some of you know, my little girl Mia has a mammary tumor. It's starting to affect the mobility of her tail and front arm, I'm desperate to get it removed and thankfully am starting to get enough donations on her campaign to help her!

Her tumor is beneath her arm and is medium sized, I've been keeping it maintained with Turkeytail mushroom and flax seed but it's still growing, just slowly so I will be getting her surgery to remove it though I don't have enough to get her spayed and don't know if she's healthy enough to survive two surgeries, she's always been sickly.

Questions..

1. What was your mammary tumor removal experience? I'm terrified that it will simply grow back or a bunch more will suddenly appear. How often does this happen? How can I prevent this after surgery? I know I can't afford more than one surgery.

2. Would it be safer on her health to just leave this tumor and try to keep her comfortable? I'm so nervous about surgery but I know it needs to be done.

Basically, please share your personal stories <3
 

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Here where I am, they will do a spay at the same time as the tumor is removed. I have heard that even with a spay, tumors tend to reappear anyway.
 

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When Tybalt had a tumor, he was around a year old. It was not getting in the way of his daily life, so we let it go rather than putting him through the stress of surgery. Eventually, it grew to the size of a ping-pong/golf ball. It was still not getting in the way of his mobility, but he decided he had, had enough and attempted to gnaw it off. We obviously had to have it removed as it would have been inhumane to let him live with a huge open wound. After the surgery, he grew another, smaller tumor. This one never grew to be very large and remained for the last two years of his life with no issue. He lived to be very, nearly three years old.

For me, there are many variables that I consider before putting my little guys through surgery. Age, health, and the likelihood of a better life afterward are all consider before I decide what to do. Everybody will have a different opinion about this scenario. You really need to think about what will be best for you and your baby in your unique situation. Tumor removal is seldom an easy decision to make, in my opinion.
 

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Four of my rats have had mass removal surgery and they all did well. With my most recent surgeries I used cones to prevent my rats from removing their stitches since I've had experience with this before with one rat who ended up with a second intention wound which was lovingly cared for and healed.

Apparently melatonin supplements (best to get non animal source) can help with preventing tumors from growing back. They slow down the release of prolactin (this will only work if the tumors thrive on prolactin). I will see if it works. I am giving two of my rats this supplement.
 

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Hi MsKimberly,

I have had many mammary tumors removed in the past and my rats have always recovered easily and well after the surgery. I am now having my female rats spayed in the hopes I won't have to continue having to have mammary tumors removed.

Yes, there is always the possibility new tumors can grow after a tumor removal surgery.

The surgery itself is usually a very safe procedure since it doesn't involve going into the actual body cavity. Instead, mammary tumors are encapsulated masses just beneath the surface of the skin. They're easily removed without causing damage to neighboring tissue. This is the case for benign mammary tumors. Your veterinarian can do a fine needle aspirate to determine what types of cells are inside the mass before you decide on whether or not to have the surgery done. If it's not a benign mammary tumor, then other factors should be considered. (....such as the possibility of metastasis)

You mentioned Mia has always been sickly----what types of problems has she been having? Her health would definitely factor into whether or not you should have the tumor removed. Also, I'm wondering how old Mia is. The younger the rat, usually the easier the surgery.

As long as your veterinarian thinks Mia's a good candidate for the surgery (and as long as you have an excellent, experienced rat veterinarian) I would have the surgery done rather than allow the tumor to continue to grow.
 

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How old is your girl? That is a big factor. The smaller the tumor is and the more encapsulated it is (feels like a single mass like a grape or something rather than a bunch of little nodules and lumps clustered together) the easier it is to remove safely and have an easier recovery. Larger tumors get their own blood supply where the vein needs to be closed off and removed from the tumor and large tumors can also sap their energy. After a large tumor is removed it can be a shock to the system to lose such a large amount of body mass suddenly which makes recovery more difficult. The smaller and sooner it is removed, the better!

If she is about a year or older, a spay unfortunately may not help that much to prevent future tumors. I've learned that it's much more helpful for very young girls to get spayed in preventing tumors. If she has tumors now, it's likely she will get more in the future. Keep giving the turkey tail and flax oil even after she gets the tumor removed. I would also add wheatgrass powder which is helpful in slowing growth. Avoid as much sugar as possible and anything that can translate into sugar in the body (such as breads) which feeds tumor growth.

My current old lady had one tumor removed and a spay at the same time in December. She then grew two more tumors shortly after and had surgery a couple weeks ago to remove those. I don't know how old she is, but I'm guessing she is around 2 years old now. She had a little difficulty bouncing back from surgery and seemed to take a couple days to recover fully. But I've had 6 of my other current rats go through spay/neuter surgeries and they were back to normal and active in just a couple hours after waking up. It depends on the rat and the age I think so there's no guessing how well she will do, but more than likely she will do great. The surgery is very quick, usually only 20 mins tops for a simple tumor removal, so I wouldn't worry too much. If your girl is having current URI or heart issues, it might be risky. You can try putting her on a round of antibiotics to help make sure her lungs are healthy enough if you're worried about her being sickly and that putting her at risk. But your vet can listen to her lungs and give you their opinion.

As for your second question, it really depends on her age. If she's around 2 1/2 or older, it might be best to just keep her comfortable since she'd be an old lady, but if she's acting unhappy and the tumor is affecting her, and if she's not able to do the things she normally loved doing and her quality of life is diminishing, then it would (in my opinion) be more than worth the risk of surgery to try to help her. If she's unhappy and too uncomfortable living in her condition she should be put to sleep, so if you're worried about her passing away during surgery, there's nothing to lose by possibly making her happier and having the tumor removed. She may likely pull through and recover well and be back to her happy normal self!

Best wishes to you and her. Let us know how her surgery goes! I'm sure she will do great! <3
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you everyone for responding and I'll reply more in depth soon <3 but I have a new urgency..

It took everything I had as well as loved ones and strangers to save up money to take her to the vet and to get it removed. Tommorow is when I'll be calling the vet but now I wonder if I even should.

I noticed Mia is having issues holding food and I thought maybe she's just weak but that's a huge sign of a PT though she has no others. Fair amount of porphin and also just noticed that she has ANOTHER tumor near her groin. She also recently bled when she peed and I thought it was a UTI and got it cleared up but now I wonder if it was tumor related. Her tail is also having issues. Also slight respiratory flare up. The original tumor under her arm seems like one lump but with 'tissue' around it? Not sure how to explain

Should I just choose the PTS option? Would surgery even help at this point.. it's obvious her quality of life isn't as good as it was. Though she still cuddles, still plays with her cagemate (who would be devastated without her) it makes me feel so guilty even considering it since she's still active.. but my fear that at any time one of those tumors could get worse and make her suffer a painful death, destroys me even worse..

I'm at a loss of what to do here and my depression is out the roof. =/
 

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I'm so sorry she has had issues. It's so hard seeing loved pets have to live through health issues throughout their lives. If it is in fact a PT, you should start seeing more definite symptoms soon, so you're right in thinking that the tumor is the least of your worries right now. I would keep an eye on her, and try giving her fatty tasty high calorie foods (our two old men had to be pts mainly due to complications from PTs, and they seemed to go downhill rather quickly and lost weight fast) plus it will be nice to spoil her with her favorite tasty foods. If you want, I can share with you the symptoms our 2 old boys had when they had a PT and how it progressed for them. Maybe it would help somehow?

Maybe you should keep an eye on her condition and see how it develops in the next week or two and save that money you raised for her. Then if things get worse you can take her to the vet for an opinion on if it's a PT and maybe for a pts appointment.. if it turns out to be something treatable, then you can use that money for care and/or the tumor removal surgery. Hopefully it's something treatable like an inner ear infection that's causing her difficulty in holding food and staying upright.

When rats or any pet have only a short time to live and you know it, but they still seems healthy and not affected by their issues much yet, it's so so hard... but you definitely do not want them to get to the point of suffering.. Our old guys were put on pain meds for their last few weeks which seemed to help them. But of course didn't fix anything they still got worse and had to be put to sleep before they started to really suffer.

So sorry.. what a crappy situation.. I hope she won't be in any pain or suffering long before she tells you what she needs you to do for her. At least you've done all you can for her to get her good care and worked to get money for her. At the very least, you will be able to save her from suffering and help her pass on with a PTS appointment which is sometimes the absolute kindest "thank you" you can give her for her love by making sure she doesn't suffer. I'm sure she knows you love her very much and you're trying hard for her. It's a terrible feeling to be uncertain of what to do in these situations. But for now, you can just spoil her rotten and give her love and see how things develop. I'm sure she will be very happy with that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you so much for the fast response and I would love to hear what your boys symptoms were!

I've told my mom for a few days now that she acted off when she tried to eat and my mom thought it could be from where she's been weak and exhausted but after I watched some videos on it and read into it a bit more she's showing a lot of signs of a PT. It's almost like she doesn't want to open her mouth wide or crunch things (unless yawning) She can break apart the food, but struggles eating anything more then crumb sized. She eats baby food perfectly fine but really slow where as my other girls will gobble mouth fulls down if offered. Her tail also tends to want to sweep between her legs or around them and throws her off balance. The tail thing has been going on for probably a month now but it's taken me this long to raise the money for the vet so there wasn't much I could do but keep her on my bed and keep her comfortable.

She's not made much effort to drink, I've had to bring the water to her by finger and when she's in her cage she sleeps all day, doesn't make an effort at all really to leave unless it's to use the bathroom. I've kept her on my bed because she wants to be near me the most. I'm thinking putting her to sleep would be the best choice before she gets any worse but there's that nagging 'what if she magically got better?' 'how can I put her to sleep when she's bruxing and kissing me?' the guilt is overwhelming but I know it would be worse if she gets worse and I could have avoided her being in that pain. I've contacted all vets in my city tonight on pricing/procedure for putting her to sleep so I can be prepared.

This is the first rat I've had that actually has health issues, my other older girls are amazingly healthy so I've never had to experience this yet. Also after putting her to sleep how do I show her cage mates that she's passed on? I'm not sure if I should let them sniff her afterwards (if I do indeed go through with this right now) or just take her away..

Thank you so much for your kind words and time as well as everyone else that's posted as well. This community is amazing and welcoming. <3
 

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Have you checked her teeth? It's possible the difficulty with food may be a tooth issue. Maybe her front teeth are unevenly overgrown or she has a molar issue that is causing her pain to eat anything.

If you do get her put to sleep, you should maybe have her gassed first (the same way they put them out for surgery) and then given an injection. We had our two boys given the injections to knock them out before the actual euthanasia drug. The first boy didn't seem to be effected by it at all and after a few knock out injections, he gently fell asleep and was then given the lethal. But the second boy seemed to have a lot of pain when given the knock out injections and cried and struggled and it was really awful.. For future rat euthanasias, I definitely would rather them be knocked out by gas than risk putting them through the pain and stress the knock out injections sometimes cause.

If you can, you can take your girl home after pts and let her cagemates sniff her to know that she is passed on and didn't just disappear. I've heard that it is good closure for the surviving members of teh group. But it's entirely up to you.

Our second boy was just starting signs of PT that we recognized from his brother's previous issues, but was put to sleep due to an abscessed tumor in an inoperable and painful location. But the first boy really suffered from the PT fully and was pts because of it. We first noticed him losing weight rapidly, and then becoming very tired. It was difficult for him to climb his ladder or into a hammock. Eventually he couldn't do it at all. His bright eyes became dull, heavy and slightly squinty. He lost interest in food. He had teeth issues in the end which caused him difficulty in eating kibbles, but he still would eat them. He was mostly fed baby food, ensure, and high protein cat food in the end to try to put on weight and give him soft easy to eat wet foods. Gatorade or pedialyte is also tasty and helps them to stay hydrated which is very important. He eventually lost the use of his back legs. they started out as weak and he'd stumble and his toes would fold underneath his foot when he tried to take steps, and eventually he wasn't able to pull his feet forward at all and had to just drag himself. He also stopped acting like his normal self. He was a very vocal rat when he was healthy, and would squeak when pet or picked up (even though he didn't mind, he still complained!) and when he was feeling his illness, he stopped being vocal. He also grew mammary tumors and his testicles shrank becaues PTs effect hormone levels so he was reacting with more female hormones. Plus other issues with his internal organs. His liver and kidneys I think were enlarged, and other not good things. We donated his body to UC Davis where he was put to sleep and they did a necropsy and shared their results with us and gave us back his remains to bury (per our request). So we have a report that his issue was defintely a PT and the other issues it caused and anything else they found in their results and testing. A few days before his brother had to be put to sleep, we noticed the same signs where he was losing weight, losing interest in food and getting weaker. He also had tumors. He was also donated and had a necropsy performed.

I hope that's helpful a little? Of course PTs will effect rats differently. I hope maybe her issue may just be her teeth! A vet can use a tool to look in the back of her mouth to check her molars or see anything else that you won't be able to. I hope it's an easy fix! For now, make sure she's getting fluids and soft foods, poor girl!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you so much to everyone that posted and I promise when I'm in a better state of mind I'll reply more in depth to each of you, this morning it seemed Mia was worse. Her respiratory issues were getting worse, she wouldn't eat unless spoonfed and it was almost like she couldn't chew right or take bites right. She also lost her balance and was constantly falling over and I felt that even if we did the surgery the brain tumor would have taken her and I didn't want her to suffer.


The vet was extremely sweet and gentle, held her and loved on her. She was gassed before the injection and it was only $53 for the procedure. They gave her to me wrapped up with a card that had her footprints on it.


I feel guilty like I should have let her live naturally but I know deep down that she would have ended up suffering and I wanted her to go while she felt decent. My only regret is that I was unprepared, I didn't plan on putting her down today. I didn't get to have a special day full of treats but I tried making this morning special for her and also let her go peacefully which like you all have said, is the best thing to do.


Mia was 1 yr, 9 months old and the sweetest people loving rat anyone could have met and I'm beside myself with grief but I have three other little girls to help get me through it.
 

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We are only sometimes prepared for these things. You did all anyone could do and your rats love you for it.
 

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Oh no I'm so sorry.... But everyone here will agree that you did the best thing possible for her. We were really hoping our first PT boy would pass away at home peacefully too since he didn't seem to be in too much pain and kept going downhill fast, but it was at least a month (maybe even more?) and he was just hanging on so tightly. We couldn't let him continue and possibly suffering so he was pts too. Looking back now, we regret not having him pts sooner.. There's no way of knowing if she would have held on for a long time, but she likely would have suffered during that time too. So sorry for your loss, you took care of her in the best way possible for her condition and I'm glad you had such a sweet vet who gave you her prints to cherish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sorry for the super late reply, I've been coping and keeping myself busy with my girls.

Thank you all <3 & That's exactly how I feel right now, I know that I was selfish and kept feeding her herbal treatments in hopes that something would magically happen and she would pull through with a miracle. But looking back on it I know that she was just fighting to act normal, she got to where she couldn't grasp food but it was obvious she was trying so hard for me. I'm glad I had her put to sleep before she passed away from something harsh. I'll definitely know to put these last three to sleep sooner if any of them show the signs she did. Sorry to hear about your boy =( I had hope for my Mia too but I think all rat parents probably hope there's will be an exception to the PT signs..
 
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