HELP! My rat Zoe is not well (possibly Pituitary Tumor (PT))

Discussion in 'Health & General Care' started by dan2333, Oct 11, 2018.

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  1. Oct 11, 2018 #1

    dan2333

    dan2333

    dan2333

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    My rat Zoe is not well.

    I took her to the vet. I take care of my rats and I go to the vet often now that they are over 2 years old.

    Here are the symptoms:

    Zoe symptoms:

    • Poor balance/not very good at walking/head tilt
    • Lost weight (used to be 465 grams but went down to 410 grams)
    • Eats less (this morning and last night she did not eat much). I even gave her a turkey bone and she was not interested which is very unusual
    • Stools smaller
    • Faster breathing, irregular heart beat (according to the vet, it's supposed to be a pattern of two beats together but instead she said she heard three)
    • Leaning chin over edges
    • Bobbing head up and down
    • Increased bruxxing
    • Not sleeping during the day (she just sits in a spot and keeps her eyes open)
    • Not as alert
    Here is a youtube video that I took of her this morning:

    I'm not sure what to do. At first about a month ago, the vet said that it could be an ear infection so to rule that out we gave her Doxycycline for two weeks with no change. She was not as bad back then, just not good balance and head tilt. After two weeks on doxycycline, there were no changes so we took her off the doxycycline.

    At the time, the vet mentioned the drug Cabergoline which is supposed to help with PT. When I went to the vet yesterday for lice (which has been treated and am still treating), they said they didn't have Cabergoline on-hand but that they would get back to me about it.

    I hope I don't have to put her down. I hope she can at least be stabilized. I have to take it day to day and keep an eye on her. I'm so worried.

    Any insights, or support would be appreciated.


    Thanks,

    Daniel
     
  2. Oct 11, 2018 #2

    Luna&Ralph

    Luna&Ralph

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    It could be a PT. I’m also thinking from the video it could be a heart condition, but that wouldn’t explain the head tilt. Could we see a video of Zoe walking or trying to hold food?
     
  3. Oct 11, 2018 #3

    dan2333

    dan2333

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    Another symptom is this:
    • Running around aimlessly to different areas (confused) and then leaning over the edge each time.
    I will take a video of her running around as soon as I can.

    I haven't seen her hold food since yesterday. I think she might still be able to given I just saw it yesterday but I'm not sure. I'll check that too.

    She hasn't been eating so I had to crush up Oxbow Regal Rat into a powder, add water and feed it to her with a syringe.
     
  4. Oct 11, 2018 #4

    Luna&Ralph

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    I haven't used cabergoline myself, but it definitely sounds like a good thing to try for her. Being able to hold food is a great sign but it could also just be early on in the growth of the tumour. The confusion, bruxxing, head tilt and head bobbing (if it's when you pet her head) are all symptoms of PT, but it also sounds like there is a respiratory problem there. Ask the vet if you could get some antibiotics as well as the cabergoline when you get it. My favourites are Baytril, doxy, and amoxicillin as a combo, and the amoxicillin will also help if it is an inner ear infection. She should also be on some sort of steroid or anti-inflammatory. Steroids aren't very popular with some vets because they can lower the immune system, but if your vet agrees to use steroids you could put her on prednisone. If not, an anti-inflammatory like Metacam will help, but you can use children's Advil/Motrin if nothing else.

    Good idea with the syringe feeding. Feeding baby cereal (pablum) mixed with pedialyte or Gatorade, possibly along with some baby food will also be good to syringe feed her because it's easy to get into a syringe and the electrolytes will keep her hydrated.
     
  5. Oct 11, 2018 #5

    dan2333

    dan2333

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    I just came back from the vet.

    She said she believes it's a heart condition causing the breathing issue and PT.

    Breathing issue: She said it was more of a concern right now than the PT because she's not sleeping or eating as a result. She didn't really have any recommendations for medication for the breathing/heart issue because she didn't know what type of heart condition it was. I've seen on google some different medicines for the heart but I don't even know if they are effective or if the vet will be able to get them or even if they could get it in time.

    PT issue: She said it's hard and would take a long time to get cabergoline. She mentioned prednisone but said it can cause a decrease in immune system.

    She didn't believe it was an ear infection either.

    She said I would have to put her down soon. I'm so sad right now.
     
  6. Oct 12, 2018 #6

    Luna&Ralph

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    From what I’ve seen, you can test for congestive heart failure by giving enalapril. I don’t have any experience using it but there are some people on here that have more info on it. It’s not harmful to try it, and if it doesn’t work then you know how to proceed. I would suggest trying to call around to other vets in the area to see if they carry cabergoline, or to try to get a prescription and take it to the pharmacy if it’s also used for humans. It also might be worth it to try to see another vet to get a second opinion. From the sounds of it, your vet isn’t as informed on rat conditions as they could be.
     
  7. Oct 12, 2018 #7

    dan2333

    dan2333

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    I don't know. I think I'm going to have to put her to sleep soon before it gets worse.
     
  8. Oct 12, 2018 #8

    Luna&Ralph

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    Then you should. Ultimately, even with the meds that you could give to give her a better quality of life, she will decline again and you’ll have to have her put to sleep. The medications could give you some more months together, but they may not. Whatever you decide, you’re making the right decision and are doing the best for her.
     
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  9. Oct 12, 2018 #9

    dan2333

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    My estimate of Zoe's date of birth is June 5th, 2016 which would make her 2 years and 4 months old.

    If she were younger, like say one year old that would be a different story.

    At this point, even if she had neither PT or a heart condition or lung condition, her lifespan is nearing the end anyway. I've never had a rat live 3 years. I just don't want to spend hundreds or even up to $1,000 or more just to possibly extend her life by a little bit when she's already near the end and she's already had a good run. I know it just sounds like I'm rationalizing things. I'm trying to look at the net benefit for her though. Even if I go and get every drug and something works, you're right - sooner or later something else is going to go wrong. It's hard for me to believe that she is going to make some miraculous recovery and be back to her normal self. Especially with the PT.

    I also don't want to keep pumping her full of so many different drugs. Even just taking her to the vet is already a very uncomfortable experience for her. She crawls out of the box and goes crazy on the way there.

    Heidi is about the same age (only younger by maybe one month) and she's doing fine. She is still very strong, alert, active, and a healthy weight. But she has different genes than Zoe.

    This is also taking a huge toll on me emotionally. I've been through this before with my rat Jasper back in 2012. I tried everything to save his life. In the end, it was a bad decision. I should have put him to sleep because he was suffering and soon he could no longer breathe and he died while I was away from his cage researching solutions like I am now. He suffered so much near the end and I regret it till this day. I don't want that to happen to Zoe.

    I'm going to look into Lasix for lungs as Lilspaz has suggested to me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  10. Oct 12, 2018 #10

    lilspaz68

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    The symptoms definitely sound like PT. You could get prednisone or a dexamethasone injection from your vet and see if that works. It would show improvement within a day or 2 (less for dex injected). If you feel she's had enough though, then let her go. I wouldn't worry about lasix at this point as her symptoms do not sound like heart.
     
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  11. Oct 12, 2018 #11

    dan2333

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    She had the dexamethasone shot at 2:50 pm today. Hopefully I will see an improvement. I have a followup appointment tomorrow at 12 pm. If things have not improved then I have to decide what's best for her and may have to let her go.
     
  12. Oct 12, 2018 #12

    SQ

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    Did the vet put her on a combo of antibiotics such as baytril + azithromycin (10mg/Ib twice a day) for her breathing?
    Does she have fluid in her lungs? - if so Lasix could be important
    she could be losing weight because it is hard to breath and eat at the same time, or because the pt is making it difficult or both

    she could have pt, pt + a URI, a heart condition

    I hope the dex helps
     
  13. Oct 13, 2018 #13

    dan2333

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    After the dexamethasone injection, she's feeling better now.

    She perked up a bit and started eating on her own. Plus I gave her some Ensure with coenzyme Q10.

    Now she's actually able to relax and close her eyes to sleep.

    She even doesn't mind being cuddled and pet. I'm happy, even if it's only for one night.

    I don't think I can put her to sleep yet since she's actually shown an improvement. Tomorrow I will talk to the vet and get the oral dexamethasone and will consider getting some cabergoline. I know it's expensive but if it's $200 for 8 capsules, and it's half for three days, then that will last me 46 days.

    Will keep updating.
     
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  14. Oct 13, 2018 #14

    Luna&Ralph

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    That’s great to hear! If this treatment works well and you decide to put her to sleep eventually, at least she’ll have had some time of quality life again first.
     
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  15. Oct 13, 2018 #15

    dan2333

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    Yes those are my thoughts as well. I wasn't ready to just do it so suddenly. I didn't have enough time to process what was going on and I didn't feel like I had tried everything.

    I'm trying to be realistic and do the best for her. This will buy me some time to prepare for the inevitable (everything dies but I believe rats do go to Heaven and I will be reunite with them one day). Because things were going so well. I know full well that rats can be fine one day and then suddenly go downhill quickly the next. I just want to be sure that when the time comes, I will make the right decision in a timely fashion because I can't stand to see her suffering. It breaks my heart. As it stands now, she has only had some moderate discomfort (I don't know the discomfort/pain level because rats can't talk). By the looks of it she was in discomfort with her breathing and heart rate. But she wasn't gasping for air. I've seen that before with my previous rat Jasper who had UTI and it was bad...I should have done something sooner like PTS or given him the right antibiotics (I had given him doxy at the time but the vet I went to was bad)...hard lesson learned.

    I will have to take it one day at a time and keep a close eye on her. Luckily, I'm unemployed so I can be here to attend to her needs at all times and go to the vet immediately during daytime hours without having to worry about leaving work or taking time off.

    Will update tomorrow on what's going on. I am glad that Heidi and Zoe are sleeping together right now for another night. They are sleeping under the table right now in a box with lots of rags and I will leave them there until tomorrow morning.
     

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  16. Oct 13, 2018 #16

    SQ

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    If she is on dex then she also needs to be on baytril as steroids lower the immune system

    So glad that she is doing better!
     
  17. Oct 15, 2018 #17

    dan2333

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    She is currently on the prednisone and baytril. She feels better after each dose has kicked in and falls asleep.

    She is still leaning against edges and hanging her head over during the time that she would normally be sleeping.

    She is still able to sleep in normal positions though.

    She can still eat on her own and walk around. She doesn't mind sleeping together with Heidi. And she still likes to be pet.

    I still have to feed her with a syringe to make sure she's getting enough.

    I've been giving her pablum, oxbow regal rat and Ensure with a syringe.
     
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  18. Oct 15, 2018 #18

    SQ

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    So glad that she is fdoing better!

    If you are not already doing so, you can put shallow dish of the esure (or organic soy infant formula) thickened with baby cereal in a dish in case she can eat it, in addition to syringe feeding (one drop at a time into the side of her mouth so it does not go into her lungs

    Is her breathing ok? Extra effort? Have you held her up to your ear and listened to both sides of her chest?
     
  19. Oct 20, 2018 #19

    dan2333

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    She is stabilized I would say but not symptom-free. I gave her the cabergoline on Wednesday evening. I would like to taper her off of the prednisone/baytril soon.

    However, she is still not eating much on her own. Whenever I give her food, she just eats a bit and then stops. I have feed her with a syringe and it's a struggle.

    Right now she is resting. She doesn't seem to be all there mentally but at the same time, doesn't appear to be suffering physically.
     
  20. Oct 20, 2018 #20

    Luna&Ralph

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    She might have a food aversion. This is something that happens in humans but might be more common in animals like rats that can’t vomit. When an animal is sick, sometimes they associate something as having made them sick. In the case of a food aversion, it would be the food that they associate with the sickness. She might think that it was her food that made her feel like that in the first place and wants to avoid food because she doesn’t want it to make her feel like that again. Once she sees that it’s not the food making her sick she’ll go back to normal, just give it some time and maybe try some new and exciting foods.

    I think I’ve read before that cabergoline can make rats nauseous, so it could also be that. Maybe you could try to mix the meds in with a little food and it would make the nausea less intense.
     

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