Constantly shaking head

Discussion in 'Health & General Care' started by DanielZielwolf, Nov 12, 2019.

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  1. Nov 12, 2019 #1

    DanielZielwolf

    DanielZielwolf

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    Has anyone come across this before? One of my rats spends periods vigorously shaking/flicking his head and body for a second every couple of seconds. Like you might if you were trying to shake a bug out of your hair. This goes on for a while and seems to be worse at night. I thought he might have mites but wouldn't he be scratching a lot instead? Anyway he's been treated for them previously just in case. It doesn't seem to bother him greatly, it's more disturbing to me I guess. He's otherwise very healthy although getting quite old. I'm just wondering what could be irritating him like that. Has anyone seen this symptom before?
     
  2. Nov 13, 2019 #2

    Kye

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    He could have an ear infection. I'd get him to a vet and consult with them on possible treatments for them if it is one.!
     
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  3. Nov 13, 2019 #3

    Renee

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    I'd say it's possible he has an ear infection, I would get him to a vet as soon as you can. Is there a head tilt as well?
     
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  4. Nov 13, 2019 #4

    lilspaz68

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    check for mites - rub through the fur over his shoulders and neck looking for little scabs. Lice would be visible on back and rump. If you see them, treat with Revolution.

    smell the ears for any foul smells even if its faint. You can go back and forth between ears to see if you can smell a difference. This would be inner ear infection, look for a possible head tilt as well.

    Is your rat older and more compromised physically? He may just be itchy and cannot reach it, rub his ears, shoulders, along his spine where he cannot reach anymore. If he goes mad and enjoys it, then that might be the issue.:)
     
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  5. Nov 15, 2019 #5

    PiddlePod

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    Get your nose up close to those ears and take a good couple of sniffs. If it smells like rotten fish, a sewer or like a funky belly button, it is undoubtedly an infection. I'm actually dealing with this very same thing right now with my old man Pi (ear that is on the same side as his microphthalmia). He's had a funky ear on the same side a little over a year prior that cleared up pretty quickly with antibiotics and ear drops. 3 weeks of treatment did the trick.

    A couple days ago Pi had the same symptoms with the head shaking and ear digging but thankfully no dizziness, head tilt or rolling. The clear indicator was his stinky fish ear. As soon as I smelled it, I went into Dr. Deb mode and immediately started him on oral Baytril/Doxy, along with twice daily baytril otic drops (and a pretreatment 1/2 before baytril otic w/ an alkalizing ear drop...helps break up the gunk). 3 days later into treatment and his ear smells like a normal rat ear. Just for my own peace of mind, I had him checked out today by his exotics vet to have a professional confirm that he is on the mend. :)

    Get a good whiff of those ears....anything funky smelling and youre likely dealing with an ear infection but a trip to the vet and some antibiotics will clear it right up. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
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  6. Nov 27, 2019 #6

    Rocket99

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    My boy Gollum has been yhis way his entire life. I always thought ear infection but he also forcefully sneezes a lot. Its due to his bloodline. He is a double Rex and has a deviated septum and inner ear canal issues caused by hereditary traits. Inbreeding can be bad.
     
  7. Dec 5, 2019 #7

    DanielZielwolf

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    I think he had excess mucus in his respiratory tracts and was trying to shake it off. He was making a noise too on & off, sounded horrible, like a deep gurgle, as if he was full of fluid, but it didn't actually seem to bother him that much. He's hasn't lacked energy, appetite, responsiveness or anything. He's doing a lot better now. I got him old as a rescue/foster, age 2+, have had him 2 months now so will have to keep close watch.
     
  8. Dec 5, 2019 #8

    ViciousCurse

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    What you're describing sounds incredibly concerning. I'd almost say a severe URI or pneumonia, which can kill a rat if left untreated. I'd definitely recommend a vet for antibiotics.
     
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  9. Dec 8, 2019 #9

    PiddlePod

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    So, head shaking is typically a sign that there is something going on in the ear. It could be an outer or inner ear infection or impacted ear wax, which can give off a funky odor as well. Considering that your buddy is also dealing with what sounds like an active lower respiratory infection, it's very possible that he has an inner ear infection brewing as well.

    Ear infections can begin with or without an active respiratory infection. Sometimes an ear infection or symptoms of an ear infection may manifest first before you notice respiratory involvement. The gurgling and chest noises are really concerning. Please keep in mind that rats are incredible at hiding just how sick they really are and you often won't observe outright symptoms like hunched posture w/ piloerection (rat looks prickly or poofy), lethargy, labored breathing and decreased food/water intake until the infection has progressed to the point that the rat can no longer mask symptoms.

    Your rattie really needs veterinary intervention so that he can begin antibiotic therapy. Depending on how advanced the respiratory infection is he may need a combination of enrofloxicin and doxycycline; if the infection has progressed to pneumonia he will require an antibiotic combination of enrofloxicin and azithromycin. He may benefit from meloxicam (NSAID) to calm inflammation in
    the tissues of the lungs and respiratory tract. Lasix (a diuretic) may also be added if he has pulmonary edema. Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) is very serious and will lead to respiratory distress and possible respiratory failure if left untreated. Untreated active mycoplasmosis infections as well as unresolved pulmonary
    edema can place unnecessary strain on the heart which could raise the risk of the rat developing congestive heart failure later in life.

    There's always the possibility, due to his age, that you're observing symptoms of a disorder of the heart which would require a veterinary evaluation to determine whether this is a respiratory infection or an undiagnosed cardiovascular disorder. In addition to assisting in clearing fluid from the lungs, Lasix is also an excellent diagnostic tool in combination with Enalapril (ACE inhibitor; heart med) that can help determine if an underlying heart condition if it exists.

    I'd strongly recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Please keep us updated on how your senior rattie is doing. ❤️❤️
     
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  10. Dec 16, 2019 #10

    Rocket99

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    Hmmmm, hate to say this but 2½ yr old rescue huh? So you probably know little to nothing about him, no background, no medical history. And at his age? Fair to say that your keeping a watch, and a close one at that, over him is just about all you can do. At this point you are most likely giving him the best life he has ever known, so don't feel bad when his time comes that you need to assist in loving helping him across the bridge. By not letting any URI progress to a gasping situation is about all you can do. I've had many a hospice rat, old and sick, on lifetime ABs and under close observation, who lived a long time quite comfortably. So as long as his quality of life is not significantly impacted, let that poor guy get some of the good life that you are able to provide him with. He sounds pretty healthy to me, as I said, I have a guy with the same symptoms, and he doesn't need to be watched for chronic URI, it's the acute URI symptoms you'll need to watch for. Basically, any NEW symptoms, or any changes in his present ones. He is about 75 yrs old in our years, and lived with his head shaking and sneezing just fine his entire life, he just needs lots of love and attention now.
     
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  11. Dec 18, 2019 #11

    PiddlePod

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    How's your buddy doing? Hopefully he's doing well! ❤️❤️ Please update when you have a chance!
     
  12. Dec 18, 2019 #12

    DanielZielwolf

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    Hi there. He's doing well, thanks for asking! I see there's quite a few comments since I updated last so in reply to those also: I did already have him on a course of Baytril + doxycycline which is what I usually do as soon as there's suspected respiratory symptoms even before I see a vet. That gloopy sound has disappeared totally. He still has bouts of head shaking, but the vet said there's no ear infection and to keep him on antibiotics just in case. It seems to be worst around 4-6am (I keep all hours & the rats live in my bedroom) when he's particularly active. I don't know, it's almost like some kind of nervous tic as if he has a rat version of the hiccups. When he goes to sleep around 6am they just stop. It's not getting any worse, I'd say he's doing better than a few weeks ago. Although with rats who can tell? I've had some go from apparently perfectly healthy to deceased in hours sadly. It doesn't affect his energy levels, he's active and he's eating plenty, always eager for treats. He'd be closer to 2 1/2 now (just realised I've already had him almost 3 months) so he's hanging in there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2019
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  13. Dec 18, 2019 #13

    ViciousCurse

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    I'm so glad he's doing so much better! Well wishes and I hope he continues to improve :) Hmm, hopefully it is just a tic or habit of his.
     
  14. Dec 19, 2019 #14

    PiddlePod

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    Great news! And good idea to keep him on the antibiotics for a little longer. With rats it's difficult to really get in there with an otoscope since the canal too narrow and makes it nearly impossible to get a clear view of all the structures of the ear. Taking that into consideration it may well be that he does have an active ear infection that cannot be observed w/o endoscopic exploration.

    I'd keep him on antibiotics for a full 8 weeks (some suggest 12 weeks) since ear infections can be notoriously difficult to resolve completely and often require a lengthier amount of time to treat. :)
     

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