My husband's rat hasn't been doing well and I need advice

Discussion in 'Health & General Care' started by MyroRory, Sep 23, 2018.

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  1. Sep 23, 2018 #1

    MyroRory

    MyroRory

    MyroRory

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    My husband's rat Myro (a little over 2 years old) hasn't been doing well for a while. We've been suspecting a petuitary tumor because he has been having a harder and harder time holding his food slowly over time and he is also becoming more disoriented and he leans to the left and seems off balance. He now has a hard time cleaning himself anymore because he falls over so often. His back has gotten quite orange which we originally thought was just buck grease, and it still may be that, but it's quite a bit of orange. He's also losing his hair and has a hard time chewing food. He can still eat, he just takes very tiny bites of his food and it takes a long time for him to eat his food, and we give him baby food for his treats now. He can still kind of use his right hand to hold food, but rests it on something if he can, he rarely ever uses his left hand anymore. He does prefer just biting things with his mouth recently and to not use his hands if he can get away with it. We have taken him to the vet a couple times (she is an exotic vet so she should know what she's doing) but she always seems to be guessing what's going on. The first time we took him in, she wasn't concerned about a PT and thought it was an inner ear infection, and just prescribed him Baytril (Baytrin?) for twice a day for a couple weeks. He seemed to feel better with that, so we thought he may have been getting better. But only a few days after he was out of the meds, we thought he was going to die because he suddenly started making a low sound (almost a small grunt) after chewing a peanut and then was walking hardly at all. He would walk for a short bit and then lay down mid walk. We were very worried because we don't have an emergency exotic vet near us so we couldn't do anything except keep him comfortable (it was late at night when this happened). But within about an hour or two, he was okay again. So the next day we took him to the vet and she then thought maybe it was a PT but said it was hard to tell, but re-prescribed the Baytril since it seemed to help him feel better. He hasn't had an episode like that again since that day (that was probably about 4 weeks ago) and he's been off antibiotics since about 3 weeks ago, but he has been slowly getting worse and worse. We are pretty sure that it's a petuitary tumor even though he can still use his right hand a bit. His vet always seems like she's just kind of guessing and he hates going to the vet so much. So we're currently thinking of trying to give him some infant advil on our own because he does seem in pain. Along with his other symptoms he's also squinting a lot lately and has been arching his back. So we think he needs some sort of pain meds. But I wanted to get on here and ask if anyone had any other ideas to help him? Something's definitely wrong inside of him somewhere, but now it just feels like a waiting and guessing game because nothing seems to be able to fix what's going on. Any ideas? Thanks for any input!
     
  2. Sep 23, 2018 #2

    SQ

    SQ

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    Is he weaker on one side then the other?
    Does he have a head tilt? Does he turn in one direction? Does he circle or roll?
    Are his teeth ok? Are they too long?
    Is he losing weight? (a digital scale that weighs accurately to 1 gram and has a tare function is a good investment if you do not have one)
    Is he peeing and pooping normally? Looks ok? more often, less, the same?

    Can you post some videos of him - walking, eating etc?
    Post the videos to youtube and then post the links on here
    If you are on facebook, you may also want to post to the group Real Rat Lovers Want to Know

    If you take him to a vet to get him on proper medication make sure you mention what he is on because there may be a waiting period between stopping the current meds and starting new meds. For example, many pain meds and prednisone can not both be given and there is a waiting period between when one can be started if the other was previously given - prednisone reduces inflammation so may help with pain (according to my vet)
    - an antibiotic such as baytrilor combo of antibiotics + a steroid such as prednisone is the treatment for most of the conditions it could be. Please see the links I have provided below

    The treatment for an inner ear infection is an antibiotic, baytril is sometimes used but clavamox or another antibiotic may penetrate better - rats usually need to be on antibiotics for at least 6 weeks and sometimes it may take months for an inner ear infection to clear up. Usually an anti-inflammatory such as metacam or a steroid such as prednisone or dexamethasone is given for a few weeks to prevent further damage. Rats can not just stop taking prednisone, it needs to be slowly reduced over time by cutting the dose in half, and steroids must be given with an antibiotic. http://ratguide.com/health/auricle_ear/otitis_media_otitis_interna_labyrinthitis.php

    The treatment for neurological problems, such as a stroke etc is an antibiotic such as baytril plus a steroid such as prednisone or dexamethasone

    The treatment for pt is an antibiotic such as baytril + a steroid such as prednisone or dexamethasone - to reduce symptoms by reducing inflammation in the tissue around the tumor (both meds are given for the remainder of the rat's life)
    and the most common type of pt will also respond to cabergoline .
    If the tumor is slow growing, then these meds may help to give the rat more good quality time. Some rats have had up to an additional 6 months of good quality time because of the meds .... People generally test for pt by handing their rat something small like a cheerio and seeing if the rat can hold it in both paws and eat it. The wheelbarrow test is also used - please see the following link for info http://ratguide.com/health/neoplasia/pituitary_tumor.php http://ratguide.com/meds/central_nervous_system_drugs/cabergoline.php

    http://ratguide.com/meds/antimicrobial_agents/enrofloxacin_baytril.php
    http://ratguide.com/meds/antimicrobial_agents/clavamox_amoxicillinclavulanate.php
    http://ratguide.com/meds/antimicrobial_agents/chloramphenicol.php

    http://ratguide.com/meds/endocrine_hormones/prednisone_prednisolone.php
    http://ratguide.com/meds/endocrine_hormones/dexamethasone.php

    Support and care is essential. Getting rid of levels that he could fall from is important. Hanging hammocks low so that he can easily walk into them is important. You will want to provide a water dish that can not be upset in addition to the water bottle. Covering the floor of his cage so it is soft and padded may help him - bedding may need to be changed a couple of times/day so he stays dry etc
    If he does not live with other rats, then he will need to spend a lot of time being cared for, handled, cuddled etc by you and your husband

    In addition to his regular foods, you will want to feed soft foods that are easy for him to eat and also help with hydration. If he becomes unable to eat out of a dish, he might be able to lick food off your finger or lick it off the end of a syringe. If putting foof etc into his mouth with a syringe, make sure you do it into the side of his mouth, one drop t a time - so that it does not go down into his lungs
    - soak his rat blocks in cold water to make mush
    - feed him a shallow dish of organic soy infant formula thickened with baby cereal a couple of times a day (if not sold in your grocery store, Walmart sells it online)
    both of these will provide him with needed nutrition and help to keep him hydrated

    you can also feed cooked and mashed sweet potato, peas, baked squash, cooked and mashed carrots, cooked oatmeal (the real stuff not instant), baby food, etc
    You will want to modify his favorite things and activities so he can enjoy his life

    He will likely need help with grooming - many people use a warm damp cloth, or support his head and upper body with him resting on your open hand (wrist and palm) while he soaks for a few minutes in a few inches of warm water in the sink - if he is comfortable doing this,
    You will need to check for penis plugs daily and treat them as he will likely have a difficult time grooming himself. Information here http://ratguide.com/health/aging_degenerative_disorders/vesical_proteinaceous_plug.php
    He may also need you to groom him by gently brushing him with a soft new unused tooth brush

    You will need to make sure he is well hydrated because dehydration kills - one test is to gently pull up on the skin on the back of his neck and let go, if it snaps back into place he is probably not dehydrated. The vet can teach you how to give sub-Q fluids and sell you the equipment, including 27 gauge butterfly needles

    You will need to keep an eye on his breathing in case he starts to have difficulty or develops a resp. infection. You will also want to monitor his weight

    Signs of pain in rats http://ratguide.com/health/basics/signs_of_pain_in_rats.php

    If there comes a point where he is suffering you will want to consider if euthanasia is in his best interests. Most vets do not know how to do it humanely so you will need to make sure it is done right and be present to comfort him if at all possible. The humane way is for the rat to be given the gas/oxygen mix used for surgery, once deeply unconscious the vet needs to test his reflexes - gently pinching toes and checking for an eye reflex. When unconscious to at least a surgical level, the vet will inject him .... and he will be kept unconscious with the gas/oxygen mix until he is dead - the vet should check at least twice, listening for a heart beat with time in between - most vets do not know how to do it properly - a conscious rat must never be given a needle into their heart - this is so cruel that it is illegal in many places

    I hope this info has helped and I am sorry if I gave too much info, but I do not know how much you know about these things.

    Please answer the questions and post videos asap as it will help
    I sent messages to Lilspaz68 and Jorats. Hopefully they will soon respond

    If you do decide to give pain meds, lilspaz68 can help with the dose

    {{hugs}} to Myro
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  3. Sep 23, 2018 #3

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

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    I'll wait on videos as that can really help us.
     
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  4. Sep 23, 2018 #4

    jorats

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    If your vet is not used to seeing PT symptoms, they won't know what to look for. My vet does two tests. She holds the rat up, rat's back to her stomach and goes near a table ledge, if the back leg doesn't reach for that table ledge, to her that means it possibly can mean PT. The other test, she holds the rat the same way and gently squeezes and pulls on a back leg, if the rat tries to pull the leg away from her, try to break free from the fingers, then it may not be PT. I've brought so many pt rats to her, she's written a paper on it and has done tons of necropsies on them too. But one thing you could ask your vet is prednisone a rat with PT will feel much better and gain many functions back while on pred. But if you can get us videos, that maybe be helpful, sometimes even a bladder infection can look like PT.
     
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  5. Sep 23, 2018 #5

    MyroRory

    MyroRory

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    Ok everyone, we were able to take some videos this morning and I've posted them all on youtube. Here is one of the videos, and if you go to my channel, I posted 4 other videos of him walking, trying to hold his food, etc.




    SQ:
    Is he weaker on one side then the other? I'm not sure about weaker, but he definitely seems to want to use his left hand less than his right. He also tend to drop his food a lot more recently than before.
    Does he have a head tilt? He doesn't seem to have a tilt, but he does lean to the left when he stops moving or walking, and he tends to fall to the left more often.
    Does he turn in one direction? He does sometimes angle to the left when he walks, but not all the time.
    Does he circle or roll? He doesn't seem to no, but when he tries to clean himself he rolls over easily. But no rolling while trying to walk or while standing. Just tipsy.
    Are his teeth ok? Are they too long? I think his teeth are okay, we haven't noticed them, but we also haven't checked them.
    Is he losing weight? I don't know for sure, he looks thinner to us. It's hard to tell for sure though because he has lost hair and he arches his back more than before. We don't have a weight scale but the last time we went to the vet he had lost one ounce, the vet wasn't worried. But that was a few weeks ago. I am now thinking I will take him to the vet this week even though he hates it now that you've told me more about the steroids and antibiotics. I'll be able to find out if he's lost weight when we go to that appointment.
    Is he peeing and pooping normally? I believe so, he has wood shavings as his cage base and so it's hard to see his pee. He has been pooping, and his poop looks normal. He's actually been eating his poop more often recently than we've ever seen him do

    All this info was very helpful, thank you all! I hope the youtube videos will help. Let me know what you think after watching the videos.
     
  6. Sep 23, 2018 #6

    MyroRory

    MyroRory

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    Just realized they can actually be played here, so I will post the rest
     
  7. Sep 23, 2018 #7

    MyroRory

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    Here he is finding the food and eating it. He surprisingly picked it up with both hands this time, but held it in a very unstable way.
     
  8. Sep 23, 2018 #8

    MyroRory

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    More walking and trying to eat, not really using his hands this time

     
  9. Sep 23, 2018 #9

    MyroRory

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    Here's just walking, you can see his stiff walk

     
  10. Sep 23, 2018 #10

    MyroRory

    MyroRory

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    And here's the last one. It is a bit dark, sorry about that. This is him trying to eat his food out of his food dish. He has a bit of wood chips in there. This is why he takes so long to eat his food, he can't seem to decide which pieces to eat and doesn't like to pick them up and seems to get distracted. He also takes very small bites. Eating takes him a long time now

     
  11. Sep 23, 2018 #11

    MyroRory

    MyroRory

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    I also forgot to mention, his testicles have shrunked up into his body. He isn't neutered, his testicles just shrank up. That happened last week and they haven't come back out. I'll definitely be taking him to the vet this week to have him checked on. Also forgot to mention that he did used to have a cage mate but he died back in May after falling and injuring himself. Myro seemed to handle being alone fine, and he's getting older, so we never got him a new cage mate.
     
  12. Sep 24, 2018 #12

    jorats

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    It's hard to say still. He does grab the bread with both hands in the second video, the first video, he's acting that way because of the way he's being held. The walking around and confusion is abnormal. Something it going on. The testicle retraction happens to some with no ill effect. I would ask to try prednisone to see if he gets better. What does he eat? Does he get a good quality rat block? The confusion, that could be a vit. b deficiency.
     
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  13. Sep 24, 2018 #13

    MyroRory

    MyroRory

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    That's good to know that it was because of how he was being held. I think I'll attempt to do it again with his butt on the ground and holding him with one hand in a sitting up position. He gets oxbow essentials adult rat food.
     
  14. Sep 26, 2018 #14

    lilspaz68

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    Classic PT. Will your vet give you steroids?
     
  15. Sep 27, 2018 #15

    SQ

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    Will your vet et you try prednisone or dex plus baytril (a steroid must be given with an antibiotic) to see if it helps?
     
  16. Sep 27, 2018 #16

    MyroRory

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    We were able to take him into the vet on Tuesday and she agreed to give him a steroid and antibiotic together, but it was going to come through a pharmacy by the next day. Sadly, Myro's health plummeted that night and into yesterday morning and he started not being able to eat anymore yesterday morning so we had him put to sleep yesterday so that he wouldn't suffer any longer. Poor little guy, we will miss him. We're glad he isn't in pain anymore though.
     
  17. Sep 27, 2018 #17

    lilspaz68

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    So very very sorry. At least you know what is happening if you ever have a rat with PT again.
     
  18. Sep 27, 2018 #18

    SQ

    SQ

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    I am very sorry for your loss
     

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