My Rat Won't Eat

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kimba337

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Hey, hoping someone could help me with my pet rats..

I have two rats, Remy and Ace, who have recently been desexed. the day after they had their surgery Remy looked as though he had dramatically lost a lot of weight. I could see that he looked very skinny and he felt very skinny. I took them to the vets a couple days later who then told me to feed him peanut butter and meat to help with weight gain and I made a follow up appointment for a week after just to check in on his weight.

Before the surgery, Remy was 0.4kg. At the checkup I took him to he had lost about 30g, which left him at 0.37kg. I have weighed him today, the day before his weigh in, and somehow he has lost more weight and is now sitting at 0.33kg.

I have blended up some fruits and vegetables, a bit of their packaged foods and cooked chicken. he wasn't eating it off the spoon so my sister, who has a rabbit who went through a phase of not eating, told me to put it in a syringe and force feed him. He did not take that very well and I hate seeing him being force fed, so my partner did some research and he told me a list of foods that Remy could and could not eat.
So I have cooked up rice, I have cut up broccoli and potato and made a little bowl mixed with those foods, which is sitting in his cage, which he has hardly touched.

Over the past couple days I have paid very close attention to his eating habits. He hardly poops, eats or drinks. he lays in the corner of his cage and sleeps the whole day and most of the night.

I was wondering if there is anything I could feed him that would make him eat more? Or help him gain weight? My vets are not very experienced with rats and often have to look things up while I am there. They know less than I do about rats, which worries me, but they are also the best vets in my area.


Side note: Remy also chews the fur off his front and back legs????????
 

SQ

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central New Brunswick Canada
It sounds like Remy is in a lot of pain. Is he on medication for pain?
See Nursing Care at Home : Health Guide: Neuter

How long has it been since surgery?
Were you given oral pain meds (Metacam) to give at home? Health Guide: Signs of Pain in Rats
Who neutered your boys?
Because that needs to be done by a vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats. If it was done by you inexperienced vet, I would strongly suggest that you have Remy examined by an experienced rat vet to ensure that everything is ok

Please post pictures and videos of Remy - post to youtube and then put the links on here

Chewing his own hair off is called barbering. It may be because he is in pain
Please see Health Guide: Barbering

In addition to his regular good quality blocks (Oxbow, Harlan 2014, Science Select),
feed his blocks soaked in cool water to make mush, and/or organic soy infant formula thickened with baby cereal - see if he will lick it off your finger
- try feeding cooked oatmeal, cooked vegs, baby kale, watermelon, a piece of ripe banana, baby food - or make your own pureed vegs These foods will give nutrition and help him to stay hydrated
(Please see our Reference Thread REFERENCE Thread - Read Only)

He may be dehydrated which is dangerous as dehydration kills ….. gently pull up on the skin on the back of his neck and if it does not quickly snap back into place, he may be dehydrated. A vet can give sub-Q fluids and also teach you how and sell you the equipment you will need (See dehydrated rats in the Reference Thread)
 
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kimba337

New Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Victoria, Australia
It sounds like Remy is in a lot of pain. Is he on medication for pain?
See Nursing Care at Home : Health Guide: Neuter

How long has it been since surgery?
Were you given oral pain meds (Metacam) to give at home? Health Guide: Signs of Pain in Rats
Who neutered your boys?
Because that needs to be done by a vet with the knowledge and experience to safely neuter rats. If it was done by you inexperienced vet, I would strongly suggest that you have Remy examined by an experienced rat vet to ensure that everything is ok

Please post pictures and videos of Remy - post to youtube and then put the links on here

Chewing his own hair off is called barbering. It may be because he is in pain
Please see Health Guide: Barbering

In addition to his regular good quality blocks (Oxbow, Harlan 2014, Science Select),
feed his blocks soaked in cool water to make mush, and/or organic soy infant formula thickened with baby cereal - see if he will lick it off your finger
- try feeding cooked oatmeal, cooked vegs, baby kale, watermelon, a piece of ripe banana, baby food - or make your own pureed vegs These foods will give nutrition and help him to stay hydrated
(Please see our Reference Thread REFERENCE Thread - Read Only)

He may be dehydrated which is dangerous as dehydration kills ….. gently pull up on the skin on the back of his neck and if it does not quickly snap back into place, he may be dehydrated. A vet can give sub-Q fluids and also teach you how and sell you the equipment you will need (See dehydrated rats in the Reference Thread)
The Vets had advised us before the surgery that they had no experience with rat neutering but reassured us through the fact that they had done neutering on rabbits. (they have done a lot of different types of operations on rabbits)
The vets were inexperienced but had previously done work on my other rat, Ace, and it was successful with no issues at all.
The vet had no issue with how the wounds were looking and how they were recovering when I took them for the checkup.
They didn't give me any pain meds or antibiotics. The surgery was 18 days ago.
Ace has had no issues since the surgery, as happy and healthy as ever.

When I took Remy in for a check up after the surgery they told me he had lost a lot of blood during the surgery(which they should've told me when they gave him back but instead withheld the information until it seemed as though it had become an issue).

If anything was wrongly done during the procedure, is there anything a rat specialist would be able to do to fix it?
It is a 4 hour train ride and a 45 minute walk in the city to the closest rat specialist and I just want to make sure that my time and money does not get wasted (I called up the specialists yesterday and they had told me everything that my vet down here had told me at the checkup) as I cannot afford $200-$300 vet bills on my $500 a fortnight payments, and I already owe the vets about $400.
 

kimba337

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Victoria, Australia
Side note: Remy and Ace had to be neutered because there were a number of aggressive attacks to which Ace needed stitches because of. The aggression in Remy since the neutering has settled, however with Ace it has stayed relatively the same, if not more aggressive than he was. They stay in the big cage together majority of the time but the moment Ace jumps on top of Remy we put Ace in the little cage, as a show of discipline. Every time Ace has attacked Remy, we hear a squeak and instantly seperate them. occasionally he will squeak randomly when we pick him up (which was pre-surgery too) but when I feel around his body to find even a hint of something not being right he doesn't squeak.
could something to do with the fighting be impacting Remy to the point where he won't drink or eat? Could he be depressed and could that cause him to not eat or drink?

He usually either sleeps all day and night in his hammock or on one of the platforms without a blanket or a bed. and instead of playing he regularly grooms himself.
Remy has always regularly cleaned himself, when I took him outside for the first time he instantly ran onto my foot and cleaned himself. this is what he does instead of exploring.

Just checked him for dehydration, he is dehydrated and refusing to drink water, I put some in a syringe and made him drink it.
 

SQ

Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Joined
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Messages
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Location
central New Brunswick Canada
His skin may also be loose because he has lost so much weight
Try getting him to eat foods that contain water (see above examples) as that will help with hydration
You can also gove him the organic (or at least non GMO) soy formula by syringe if he does not lick it off your finger …. when syringe feeding give one drop at a time into the side of the mouth so it does not go into the lungs

I messaged lilspaz68 who is a medial contributor. She is at work but will hopefully soon reply
 

lilspaz68

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Can you get us pics of the incisions so i can see how they look.. are healing etc?

We always suggest pain medication given for a few days at home. They will suck in their sides, twist and stretch when in pain. These are called owwie stretches. Are you seeing any of this? You said its been 18 days? in that time they should be fully healed. What closure did they use on the incisions? glue? stitches? Did anything need to be removed after the surgery?
 

kimba337

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Messages
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Location
Victoria, Australia
Can you get us pics of the incisions so i can see how they look.. are healing etc?

We always suggest pain medication given for a few days at home. They will suck in their sides, twist and stretch when in pain. These are called owwie stretches. Are you seeing any of this? You said its been 18 days? in that time they should be fully healed. What closure did they use on the incisions? glue? stitches? Did anything need to be removed after the surgery?
Remy:
89236799_1303657383355284_8979449655725129728_n.jpg

Ace:
89177038_2836366723105535_2140026111600361472_n.jpg

(sorry, I could not get them to sit still long enough to take a decent photo)

We've just gotten back from a weigh-in at the vets, and he has come in at .37kg, which might be saying our scales are off, as we weighed him yesterday, which read .337kg, and there's no way he miraculously put on that much weight. The vets think he might not be eating due to the respiratory disease, and we were told to put him on doxy paste, and gave him a one off shot illium meloxicam, which we were told was a painkiller. When we got home and he went in the cage, he drank a little bit of water, and nibbled on a bit of food, but we also discovered that the food we had been giving him in the syringe, was either regurgitated, or it went straight through him.

Whilst at the vets, we also mentioned that everytime we put Remy and Ace back together in the big cage, Ace picks a fight, and Remy's behaviors after we remove Ace from the cage, and they did say that stress is most likely playing a factor in him not eating as well.

As we said before, both of them were not prescribed any antibiotics or pain meds after the surgery. They were both given a shot of the meloxicam before we took them home.

We have seen Remy do these owwie stretches, but more the sucking in than the other to.

The incisions were closed with internal dissolving stitches, so nothing had to be removed post surgery.
 

lilspaz68

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if your rat has a respiratory infection this is probably why he's so quiet and losing weight. When you hold your lad's sides to your ear to listen to his breathing what do you hear? If you hear anything other than a quiet whoosh of air in and out, then you have a resp infection to deal with and doxy paste is unlikely to help. Doxy usually comes in 100 mg tablets or capsules that are mixed with fluid to make an oral solution then once you have a concentration you carefully mix your dose based on the rat's weight. Are you in the U.S.?
 

kimba337

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does Remy still do owwie stretches and sucking in?

What symptoms of respiratory diease did the vet see?

Since taking Remy to the vets and him getting a meloxicam injection he has not showed any signs of being in pain and is happily running around the cage.

Remy and Ace have had previous issues with their respiratory disease. Ace more than Remy. Both sneeze and breathe heavily at times.
Ace had prior issues since a couple days after I got them. He had an emergency trip to the vets due to him making loud rattling/squeaking noises, the vets at that time told me it was due to him having a cold but a few weeks later he had to have another trip to the vets for he same issue, I took them to a different vet(which is the vets I currently take them to) and they diagnosed Ace with Respiratory disease but did not tell me if it was upper or lower. They advised me that Remy would also be suffering from this disease. Remy has only made the squeaking/rattling noises once to which I began giving him the same medicine that was prescribed for Ace, which is doxy. after a week of that treatment he was fine, no sneezing or heavy breathing, but I continued the treatment for another week anyway. The vets have since told me that he would need to be taking doxy as well, but only when needed(so when they start sneezing and then continue for a week after the symptoms have stopped).

When I hold his sides to my ear, I am not able to hear anything right now. The vets were unsure about the tablets, when they mentioned the tablets they said that the tablets would need to be cut into almost crumbs for them and then would need to be forced into their mouths, which I was not okay with doing, so they gave me the paste instead.

We are in Australia.
 

lilspaz68

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with tablets you crush them up and dissolve them in fluid (water and some type of syrup for flavour). Doxy alone rarely can cure a more serious respiratory infection. Baytril (enrofloxacin) is best to add with the doxy. and a course of antibiotics should be for a very minimum of 2 weeks but 3-4 weeks being better.

Do YOU have any leftover antibiotics in your human med cupboard? A lot of these antibiotics can be used for rats as well.
 

kimba337

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with tablets you crush them up and dissolve them in fluid (water and some type of syrup for flavour). Doxy alone rarely can cure a more serious respiratory infection. Baytril (enrofloxacin) is best to add with the doxy. and a course of antibiotics should be for a very minimum of 2 weeks but 3-4 weeks being better.

Do YOU have any leftover antibiotics in your human med cupboard? A lot of these antibiotics can be used for rats as well.

The vets had told us that there would be no chance of us curing them, that it was something we had to manage and monitor. We need to get a nebuliser. Their condition isn't so bad to the point where we need to put medicine in the nebuliser, just something to clear the airways. we have an air purifier and a humidifier for them which we use regularly, this is just until I can afford a nebuliser.

We don't really have any antibiotics in the house for humans.
 

Dena

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You will never be able to CURE what causes the respiratory problems. But what you are really doing is curing the secondary infections. You have to treat a couple of weeks after the symptoms go away. I'm pretty sure if you get them the right meds, or combo of meds (some times azythramycin needs to be added to baytril) you will see a big difference. Trust Lilspaz and SQ. They know their stuff.
 

Fidget

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All rats have something in their system called Myco, I believe that is what your vet is referring to when he says it can't be cured. Basically, in a healthy rat it will just lay dormant, but if they are sick, or sometimes even stressed, it can cause them to be noisy. Something as simple as a car trip can cause sneezing for a couple days in some, and it may just pass, or echinacea may help if it doesn't. Sometimes they will get noisy, even get URI's. Again, sometimes echinacea can help, but sometimes they need antibiotics.
They Should have been on pain meds right after surgery, and Should have been on antibiotics after too.
Your Remy is obviously unwell, and it sounds likely it's a physical issue related to the surgery, hard to know what could have been affected inside him when they did it, hopefully it's something that will heal in time. But I'd want him on antibiotics until he is better, due to the fact that any stress on a rat can cause them to have respiratory issues.
You said on the 5th he was feeling much better after a shot of Meloxicam, so that points to him having some pain causing his lack of eating. Did he eat better for a while just after the shot? That might indicate the issue is just pain and not related to his digestive tract..
Hard to say how long until whatever is wrong can heal, I had a boy who literally would eat Nothing but Ensure for a Full 2 months after his neuter! I thought they'd done damage that would never heal..

For respiratory - I'd keep Remy on antibiotics.. Doxy & Baytril together would be best but Baytril tastes awful and as Remy is not eating it could be hard to get into him. I'd have him on Doxy at least. You can order both from www.ladygouldianfinch.com or Jedds Bird Supplies | Your Premier Bird Supply Warehouse
For pain - If there's no blood in his poop then hopfully he has no internal bleeding so you could be giving him ibuprofen for pain. I don't know if he'd still have inflammation a month after surgery, but it would help that too.. I believe the dose is 15-60 mg/lb 2-4 times a day (lower dose for pain, higher one for inflammation), but perhaps lilspaz68 could verify that?
For weight - Get some extra calorie Ensure or Boost (shake a container, let the bubbles settle, freeze it in an ice cube tray to use as needed so it will stay fresh thru the whole container). Get a couple avocados, lots of calories & they love it (peel, cut in chunks, freeze on a tray then put in a container to use as needed).
Far as Ace - It can take quite a while after a neuter for their hormones to settle down. Some rats stay aggressive even after a neuter. It's also possible he's attacking Remy Because Remy is sick. Sadly, I'd be concerned about housing them together right now the way Ace is acting, perhaps things will change when Remy is better.. You could still have supervised visits if Remy enjoys them, but no point stressing him further if he doesn't.
Far as chewing hair off their legs - It's possible they're stressed at being alone. Hard to say if Ace is still aggressive, or just aggressive towards Remy because he's sick. I'm sure the last thing you want right now is another rat to contend with, but if you got a baby boy (or a mellow older one comfortable with other ratties) perhaps Ace would like company, if he's too aggressive maybe Remy would like the company, if they both like him he could visit with each periodically until Remy is better and hopefully you can re-unite them (if you were able to get one from a Rescue, and it turned out to be a bad idea, the Rescue would take it back) Might bring both you and your boys some happiness in these hard times..

I know, this is long, and all just my opinion, but I'm concerned about Remy and sorry for your difficult situation, this must be awfully daunting & upsetting, both with Remy being ill and having to separate the boys..
 
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