Respiratory infection in rat - what to do?

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Skaven

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Jan 6, 2020
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Europe
Hello,
First my rat Burrito was sneezing a lot, so I took him to the vet and he got prescribed meds. After 5 days, his sneezing is gone, and I still have 2 days of treatments to do.
However, today my rat Taco has started making honking noises and wheezing. I looked it up on youtube, and it sounds exactly like video with rats having upper respiratory infection.
I took him to the vet right away. He got prescribed the same oral medicine that I have been giving Burrito. Here's what's in it:

1ml of medicine has
- 30mg Tetracyclin
- 22.5mg Neomycin sulfate
- 2.0mg Prednisolone acetate
- Chymotrypsin 120FIP
- Trypsin (12 FIP)
- Papayn (1201.5 FIP)

They also gave him a shot with vitamins to strengthen the immune system. So I have the following questions:

1) Does this medicine sound okay for rats? Burrito had sneezes, but after 5 days of this medicine he's fine now.
2) Do I keep the boys separated or together?
3) Both ratties have been kissing me, we were eating together (mostly they stealing food from my mouth), etc - can I get sick now, too? Vet mentioned that people can get sick, too, and it can be dangerous, so now I'm worried :(
4) I have a free roam pet rabbit (he can't reach the cage, all animals are chill about each other, and no direct contact) - can my rabbit get sick? Do I need to restrict him to the room where the ratties live?
5) Do I need to wash my clothes, bedsheets, etc. where ratties where playing, so nobody will get sick again?

My doctor didn't seem the most knowledgable, but we have no exotic vets, and she claims to have had her own rats, has experience with surgery for tumors, etc.
Maybe somebody can advise me?
Thanks in advance!
 

Dena

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Nov 12, 2018
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Texas
Never heard of most of those meds, so I'm not much help there. I know the most used meds are baytril, doxycycline, and azithromycin. Or a combo of them. Also, rats need to be on meds for 4-6 weeks to completely cure the infection.

As far as you or anyone else getting sick, no. There are very rare instances that humans could get sick from rats.

Your bunny should be fine. I had a very old, disabled free roam bunny for many years, who lived in front of my rats cage, and she was NEVER affected by any illnesses my rats got. So no need to worry. Most things a rat can get sick with, is species specific, and the bunny has no danger of getting, and vice versa.

Also, DO NOT seperate cagemates unless there's aggression going on. The stress of being seperated can kill them. All rats are born with mycoplasma, and it's incurable. It's the illnesses that come up from myco flare ups that make them sick (like upper, and lower respiratory infections). It's not contagious to others. Stress can cause flare ups, among other things.

Hope your ratties feel better soon! Also, look at www.ratguide.com for health info, and share it with your vet. It may help her with dosing and meds, if she's not very knowledgeable on rat vet care. If she also has her own, it could help her as well.
 

Skaven

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Jan 6, 2020
Messages
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Location
Europe
Thank you so much for your reply, I really really appreciate it!
Since I gave them the medicine yesterday, Taco's breathing is normal today,just an occasional sneeze. Burrito is fine for two days now. I'm so relieved, looks like the medicine is helping. They are both running around the cage and playing, instead of sleeping in a pile like yesterday. Hopefully they'll get healthy soon enough, it breaks my heart to have them sick. I will bookmark the page you provided, it looks really helpful.

I'll be giving meds for a week, as doctor said, and then will call to double check, if 4-6 weeks are needed. Maybe she just doesn't know, as she said to me 5 days if medicine helps right away, 7 days if not right away.
 

LatteTheRat

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Jan 3, 2020
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california
I would stick to doctors orders but question her about how long you should continue giving them the meds. Like with human antibiotics, even if you feel fine it doesn't mean you are completely cured and you should always keep taking the meds as long as the doctors want you to. And you and the bunny should be fine as well. And please always keep them together unless fighting occures.
 

lilspaz68

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First how old are Burrito and Taco? Are they new to your home?
Second the only medications in that oral mix that could be effective on a respiratory infection is the tetracycline and the prednisone. Tetracycline is a pretty mild antibiotic, and prednisone is a steroid that reduces lung inflammation but also suppresses the immune system so shouldn't be used unless the condition is serious. The 7 day course of any antibiotics is extremely worrying. It takes a VERY minimum of 2 weeks of treatment to get a full cure with 3 weeks being better. At 5 days it will only suppress visible symptoms and once you stop within a week most rats are sick again.

I'll wait to hear if these are new rats to your home or not. If they are you might have new home sneezes where a rat sneezes for 7-10 days as their sensitive respiratory systems adjust to their new environment.
 

Skaven

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Jan 6, 2020
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LatteTheRat,
lilspaz68, thank you for your reply!

They are 8-10 weeks old, living with me for 2 (Burrito) and 3 (Taco) weeks.
I think Burrito might have the new home sneezes, because he had no other problems and it started right away, but Taco 10 days after living with me suddently started wheezing and make honking sounds, like he has a cough. I took a video of it:
password: petrat

Should I try giving the medicine for 2 weeks instead? There has been no symptoms anymore, but I want to be on the safer side. Is there harm in doing 2 weeks instead of one with this medicine? And should it be 2 weeks for both or just Taco? Please let me know what do you think!
 

Renee

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Oct 5, 2019
Messages
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Texas
Just wanted to let you know that the sickness your rats have come from the air around them such as a dirty cage or fragrances used in your home so there is no need to wash everything they have touched. Just be sure to wipe away dust, don't use harsh chemical cleaning products in or around the cage, don't use aspen (if used, use with caution), cedar, or pine bedding, and make sure you wipe down your cage often (but don't overdo it because that may result in over-marking which may make your situation worse).

Keep your rats on their medicine for as long as possible (6 to 8 weeks is recommended but I don't know anything about any of the medicines you've listed so it may differ, I would reference someone else about that). Once again, I don't know what medicines you're using, but if you administer antibiotics when a rat doesn't need it (i.e. they're healthy again and don't need treatment or you accidentally give the wrong rat medicine) the worse that can happen is a belly ache (as far as I am aware). I have had 3 rats with URI's and I have treated all of them with Doxy and Baytril or Baytril and Minocycline. One time, I gave one of my rats a double dose on accident. She was completely okay and her treatment still went as planned!

That video definitely sounds like a URI to me but I would wait to hear lilspaz68's advice!
 

Dena

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Nov 12, 2018
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367
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Texas
To me, it sounds like it's all nasal. I could be wrong. I also have a rat named taco, and his nose got so stopped up that he looked like he was gasping, because he had to breathe out of his mouth. Was so freaking scary to me at the time. I ended up having to add doxy to the ciprofloxacin I was already giving. He was on the combo for 2 weeks, since that's all my vet would give, but he was on the cipro for a month, since I had extra. It cleared up super fast, and he hasn't had a problem since. I also nebulized him with plain saline as needed, and it helped clear his nasal passages. But I know antibiotics aren't always necessary for that. My taco's just got so bad, I had to use them.
 

Skaven

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Jan 6, 2020
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Europe
Hello!
Taco and Burrito have been on meds since then, Burrito will be 2 weeks Thursday and Taco - 2 weeks on Monday. I couldn't get the hold of the vet we were seeing - I'm still trying to get a call through. I checked around the internet, too, and indeed 1 week seemed too little, so I decided to keep an eye on them and keep giving meds.
Taco has been wheezing once or twice since medication started, but both keep sneezing a lot. I'm worried sick that the medicine is not helping. When should the sneezing go away?

I also immediately changed all their bedding to fleece + recycled paper pellets (it was fleece + wooden pellets before, same as the petshop they came from), and we don't use any cologne or anything like that at home. I wash their bedding regularly, every few days, and pellets are only in the corner litter box.
They both seem active and eatin / poopin / playing as usual, just sneeze a lot. Taco often does some sort of hiccuping with sound, even though he's mouth is shut, I've read that it's bad. Also, Taco sleeps a lot more, not sure if it's because he's sick, or just more chill.

Plan for now - get the hold of the vet, specifically ask for the doxy or baytril (I looked up, we have both available, baytril just has different name). I hope I'm not doing them harm by giving meds longer.

When should the sneezing go away? If they still sneeze, does that mean meds are not helping?
 

Rat2020

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Jan 27, 2020
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Canada
Hello,
Sorry this hear this .
Rats need long duration of course of medication for any respiratory sickness they get. 30-50 days. The sudden stop in the medication before the long duration can shock their system., Find somewhere someone experience in this department.

In the mean while, keep the cage clean and dry, away from drafts or moisture and smells that aren't good. Keep their food to just rat food as well.

Seperation isn't always the best idea for them as they need one another for their over all well being.

Best luck ratty momma! We are all here for you. Try calling another town or city and find a vet that is experienced with exotic animals and ask for some help.

✨
 

Renee

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Texas
You didn't mention it, but just in case: If your rats have puffed up fur or feel cold, it's a sign that they're uncomfortable. If this happens, fill a sock with rice and tie it off at the end and pop it into the microwave until warm. It should stay warm and make your kids feel better! Make sure it's not too hot.
Also most people recommend a combination of Doxy and Baytril/Enroflaxin rather than just one, because they work so well together!
Sneezing is okay, but I would keep an eye out for noises.
Hold your rat up to your ear like a phone and listen to see where any noises could be coming from, sometimes it's just congestion (which could be the cause of sneezes)
 

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