Rat dying?

Discussion in 'Health & General Care' started by Rataganza, Nov 6, 2018.

Help Support Rat Shack Forum by donating:

  1. Nov 6, 2018 #1

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wyoming
    I've got a one-year old male rat, Finn, that is struggling with something -- an abscess, a tumor, I don't know. What I'm hoping is that someone has had experience with something similar and could offer advice about the best path forward.
    About three weeks ago, Finn developed an huge bump on his head, between the eye and ear. I took him to the vet, which prescribed a 5-day round of antibiotics. Of note, I live in rural Wyoming. Our vets are likely some of the best equestrian and bovine vets around the nation, but when it comes to exotic pets, experience is limited at best. To my knowledge, I'm one of maybe five pet rat owners in the county.
    The vet didn't have many answers, but I was satisfied she knew enough to treat the symptoms.
    The bump improved, but after the antibiotics ran out, Finn started getting worse and losing weight. A couple days later, we were back at the vet. This time she tried to lance the bump like an abscess, but said when she pushed on the outside, the fluid drained through his mouth without the need for incision. This worried me a little, since minimal google research advised against attempting to lance a possible tooth abscess from the exterior. Still, this the only vet I have access to in a 100 mile radius. I'm not a vet (or at least, not that kind), so I trust she did what was best.
    Another round of antibiotics helped Finn regain some of his energy and the bump became a mass of scab tissue, which I kind of expected. The scab smelled horribly, like death. I called the vet and was told this was normal.
    Yesterday, I gave Finn his last round of medicine. He has not gained the weight back, and the smell is still there, but he is more active. He eats slow, but it doesn't appear to be painful.
    Today, there is discoloration on his lower jaw, possible blood above his eye (it's much darker than the porphyrin) and he looks terribly ill.
    I've called the vet again, but at this point his bills are getting quite high, and I'm not sure he is actually benefiting from the treatment.
    From reading the forums, there seems to be a slew of possible things causing his symptoms. At this point, I'm not sure knowing which it is will help.

    My questions:
    Has someone experienced this and has advice about helping Finn get better?
    How can I help his healing process?
    Should it smell like rotten tissue a week after draining?
    My wife has suggested euthanasia to keep him from suffering, but what if he can heal this? Starvation is a serious concern, but other than weight loss, he doesn't seem to be in pain. I don't see the need to cut his time short if he is not, in fact, suffering.
    Should he be separated from our other rats? (Vet did not have guidance on this point)

    Sorry for the long post. I'm a relatively new rat owner, and I'm at a loss as to how to help my little guy.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Nov 7, 2018 #2

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    23,079
    Likes Received:
    1,828
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada, Earth
    If there's necrotic tissue, or pus trapped in the cavity then it will continue to smell horrible. Is there a hole or opening you can get a syringe in to flush? You'd have to mix up warmed isotonic saline solution, then start by dribbling a little into the cavity watching to see if your boy starts to swallow (opening goes into mouth and you'll have to stop). If he doesn't swallow then increase the pressure and be prepared for some nasty stuff to come out .the saline gets into all the corners and encourages healing. I've seen an abscess like this from a bite to the face.
     
    Petunia and SQ like this.
  3. Nov 7, 2018 #3

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    23,079
    Likes Received:
    1,828
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada, Earth
    You could try pain relief and see if that helps. Or try him with soft foods because it might be painful to eat hard stuff.
    He can stay with his friends
    Unfortunately 5 days of antibiotics is no where near long enough to treat an active infection.
     
    Petunia and SQ like this.
  4. Nov 7, 2018 #4

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,017
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    In addition to the great info Lilspaz68 provided (she is an amazing medical resource person for rats)

    See if you can get several weeks of antibiotics for him .... such as clavamox - it is good for 10 days after mixed so you will mix each bottle yourself as it is needed

    Here is some info that may be helpful http://ratguide.com/health/integumentary_skin/abscess.php http://ratguide.com/meds/antimicrobial_agents/clavamox_amoxicillinclavulanate.php

    If you are not doing so, offer him soft foods
    you can soak his rat blocks in cool water to make mush, and give him organic soy infant formula thickened with baby cereal
    He may also like things such as cooked sweet potato. cooked squash, cooked real oatmeal, etc
    food that are easy to eat and contain fluids to help keep him well hydrated

    I hope he is soon feeling much better
     
    Petunia likes this.
  5. Nov 26, 2018 #5

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Update: Thank you everyone for the advice. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond, but it's been a roller coaster with a sick rat and family here for the holidays.
    Finn has both improved and worsened. We've been feeding him a mix of soft food for about two weeks now. Sweet potatoes, green leaf lettuce, a variety of baby foods have been the staples, but we keep trying to mix it up, because he seems to get bored with each choice rather quickly. That said, his color has returned to normal, and he is slowly gaining his weight back.
    On the other side, the infection moved to his lower jaw and around his eye. Previously, we washed the exterior opening with a saline solution like lilspaz68 suggested, and it healed quite nicely. But once it closed, the infection inside built up again. He's visited the vet twice more, picked up some new antibiotics (Clavamox), and we are supposed to be receiving the culture results from the vet today to determine just what is eating him up. However, as of yesterday, his affected eye is starting to cloud and I worry he will be permanently blind in that eye should he survive whatever this awful thing is.
    I wish I could say that after spending hundreds at two different vets in two different towns, I was closer to understanding what this is, but both vets have little to no experience with exotic rodents and said they didn't really know what this was or how best to treat it. It's frustrating, but perhaps it could be a good lesson for others in rural states. I would strongly suggest identifying some rat doctors before purchasing your pet, and I ashamed I didn't do the same.
    Again, many thanks for the input.
     
  6. Nov 26, 2018 #6

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,017
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    Glad that you are getting results today and hopefully he will get meds that will target the infection.

    Ask your vets to consult with other vets (my vet DR Stewart Islandview vet clinic will consult with other vets as will Dr Munn - Lilspaz68s favorite vet)
    My vet also contacts other vets on a website for vets when he has questions, and he is always researching vet sources for information - your vets need to be doing that if they are not

    Your vets might find the site ratshackforum.com helpful. This is a vet approved medical site for rat owners.

    Facial infections are life threatening and he may require surgery
    I rescued a girl with a facial infection and she required surgery to remove the infected tissue, then she was able to heal with the help of antibiotics
    If the infection has moved to his jaw bone it may be too late to do anything

    This may be informative http://ratguide.com/health/integumentary_skin/abscess.php
    One rat on ratguide.com was treated with gentamicin and had surgery to remove some bone

    Is it possible for you to locate and travel to see a vet with more knowledge and experience in treating rats?

    as for food, please give him organic soy infant formula thickened with baby cereal as his main food (if local grocery stores do not have the formula, you can order it from Walmart) - this will provide needed nutrition, and other soft foods can supplement it

    Edit: In addition to the foods you are feeding, other soft foods you might offer include cooked real oatmeal, and cooked quinoa

    If he needs to be put to sleep, then you will need to be present and you will need to make sure it is done properly as most vets do not know how to put a rat to sleep humanely. The rat is given the gas/oxygen mix used for surgery. The vet will test for an eye reflex and gently pinch the toes for a reflex as well. Once he is deeply unconscious - to at least a surgical level, then the vet will inject him in the abdomen or liver with the stuff used to put dogs or cats to sleep. He will be kept unconscious with the gas/oxygen until he is dead. The vet should be unable to detect a heart beat twice, spaced a few minutes apart. Vets allow me to hold and cuddle my rats during this procedure, but other people report that their vets will not allow this - but if you are present at least you will be able to pet him or talk to him so he knows you are there so he will be less frightened … and you will be able to make sure it is done correctly. A conscious rat must never be given an injection into the heart - this is so cruel that it is banned in some places.

    I hope he soon receives the medical care he needs and that he recovers
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  7. Nov 27, 2018 #7

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Thank you for the link, SQ. From the looks of it, Finn may have a retrobulbar abscess. The photos look exactly like his symptoms and the eye appears to be worse than the presented case. I'm still waiting to hear back from the vet about a culture taken of the abscess to determine if we're using the right anitbiotics, but both vets we've seen have declined to perform surgery because of a lack of experience.

    I will be sure to ask them to talk to others in the future, but to my knowledge, they did not consult anyone during after any of our previous visits. It could simply be my despair talking, but it is easy to feel like my rat, being a rat, was not taken seriously at first, and by the time either vet realized the problem was beyond their ability, it was too late. I am truly trying not to judge, but after doing some of my own research, it's hard to feel confident in the care Finn received.

    As far as surgery, one of the vets informed me there is a university a couple hundred miles away that might be able to help. It's something I will talk to my wife about as she has taken the lead on providing medical care to our little rat while I am at work, but given his advanced state and the fact the infection is spreading down to his jaw, it may not be realistic to hold out hope.

    After writing my previous post today, I spent an hour cuddling and feeding Finn and discovered a protrusion is now growing out of his eye ball.

    To say the least, this has been a devastating experience. Finn was the first rat I ever owned, and he joined our family only about 4 months ago, so nearly half his time with us has been spent battling this injury. Nonetheless, he opened my eyes to the wonderful world of rats and has been a wonderful companion.
    We have some hard choices to make in the coming days, so if I don't post on this thread again, Finn will have moved on. If euthanasia is our course forward, I will follow your advice.

    If, by some miracle, Finn improves, I'll post here what I learned and how he beat the beast.
    Thank you again for all your advice.
     
  8. Nov 27, 2018 #8

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    23,079
    Likes Received:
    1,828
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada, Earth
    The eyeball.spunds like it's ruptured and tissue is sticking out. Good news is rats deal with losing an eye better than we do. The eye will shrink and shrivel up as the fluid drains from it. Clavamox is a decent penetrating antibiotic but if it doesn't help you might have to switch it to something like chloramphenicol palmitate or Chlorpalm. Let us know when you get the culture &sensitivity test results back.
    Is he on pain meds? I couldn't remember.
     
    SQ likes this.
  9. Nov 27, 2018 #9

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,017
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    Please respond to Lilspaz68's questions.
    She is extremely knowledgeable, (much more then I am).

    I am so very sorry that this is happening to Finn

    I hope he is receiving enough pain control
    Because they are prey animals, rats hide pain very well http://ratguide.com/health/basics/signs_of_pain_in_rats.php

    Please give Finn a hug and a cuddle from me
     
  10. Nov 27, 2018 #10

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Lilspaz, they haven't had him on pain meds since the initial visit more than a month ago. Will update with culture info. My primary concern about the eye is lack of access to a vet willing to perform surgery. Clavamox is the third antibiotic we've tried, but the first time the vet listened when I said a 5-day run wasn't enough. I can't remember the other two, but the first was supposedly the strongest the vet kept in store. The culture is supposed to help us better understand what antibiotic to use, so I can update if it changes.

    SQ, thank you again for the link. According to the list of symptoms, he definitely experiences bouts of severe and acute pain, but just looking at his face, I have no idea how that wouldn't be painful 100 percent of the time. I was not with him the last time he visited the vet, but are there any over the counter pain management options?
     
  11. Nov 27, 2018 #11

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,017
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    infant liquid ibuprofen ….. if you know his weight (digital scale that weighs accurately to 1 gram and has a tare function is important for rat owners to have) then lilspaz68 or I can help with dose

    Ibuprofen : http://ratguide.com/meds/nsaids/ibuprofen.php
    so 10 mg to 30 mg for every kg Finn weighs, given orally (PO) ……………. every 4 hours? ….. or 4 to 6 hours? based on the quote below by lilspaz68

    one of several pain meds from vets = http://ratguide.com/meds/nsaids/meloxicam.php

    btw chloramphenicol palmitate in a premixed bottle can be ordered by your vet and you should be able to get it within a couple of days - at least my vet can do that …. so you should be able to get it if needed

    btw you can look up info re meds and health issues on ratguide.com … so can your vet, it gives info on dose, side effects, what can not be given with what etc

    as you have found out the hard way, rat owners have to be very proactive, demanding, do their own research, ask questions, and advocate on behalf of their pets
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  12. Nov 27, 2018 #12

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,017
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    On earlier threads lilspaz68 wrote :

    It would likely help lilspaz68 if you could post some pictures of Finn so she can see the swelling and his eye

    I am so very sorry that this is happening to him

    btw, when putting my rats to sleep, my vet lets me hold them and to hold the tube with the gas/oxygen mix near their face ….. they hate the smell but a few good breaths and they start to become sleepy

    I wish I could do more and I hope this info helps
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  13. Nov 28, 2018 #13

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    Rataganza

    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wyoming
    This info is great. We still haven't heard anything about the culture, which was supposed to have next day results. Finn's eye is basically popping out of his head at this point, and I am wondering if surgery would be the best option, but again, I'm not sure we have any vets nearby willing to operate. I will post photos later today.

    Thank you both for the info.
     
  14. Nov 28, 2018 #14

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    lilspaz68

    Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    23,079
    Likes Received:
    1,828
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada, Earth
    If Finn is unable to close his eyelid over his eye, an enucleation might have to happen. Can you get a pic? I have a ton of experience of eyes like this and need to see if it just needs a higher dose of metacam (vets often underdose it) or if it needs to come out. Can you smell over his eye for smells of infection?
     

Share This Page