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Stroke or ear infection?

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Ratamunch

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A little over a couple of weeks back my rat Narcissa started looking a little under the weather, and slowly started getting worse, eventually getting to the point where she was having to drag herself around, she couldnt eat or drink on her own, she had a head tilt, and was overall very lethargic. I took her to an emergency vet the morning after I realized she was getting worse, and they said it could either be a stroke or an inner ear infection. The vet prescribed chlor-palm and prednisone, in case it was an infection. Her dosages are over now, and she has improved on some fronts and regressed in others. I took her to a vet that wasnt open on the weekend a couple days after and they said that if she doesnt recover by the end of the dose they could try a different medication to see if that works. I'm wondering if maybe this just isnt an infection at all? I guess it's possible the antibiotics she had didnt solve her problem but if they werent helping wouldnt she have gotten way sicker by now? I'm just really worried about her and not sure I'm ready to get the news that she might have to be put down on tuesday.
 

lilspaz68

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ok lets start with a few questions.

How old is your lass?
How long was the course of Chlorpalm. Chloramphenicol Palmitate is NOT a first choice antibiotic as it only covers very specific bacteria and depending on what her inner ear infecction was caused by it may or may not work. Its why most vets start with Baytril as its broad-spectrum.

So what improved and what worsened?

Can you get a video of her for us? There's actually 3 things it could be, inner ear infection, PT and stroke. PT is much more common than stroke in older rats, inner ear is most common of any age and they can have similar symptoms.
 

Ratamunch

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She is 18 months old, and the chlor-palm was 0.5ml twice a day for 2 weeks. It started with her balance and appetite getting worse, as well as a lot of porphyrin around her right eye and a head tilt. She was very sluggish and dizzy, and didnt seem to have energy at all for the first while. A few days in, she started eating a little more and drinking a little more (although she still ate extremely slow), as well as having a tiny bit more energy. Right now, she seems to be moving around quite a bit more and generally seems like shes got energy, but she cant walk without leaning her right side against a wall. I thought I was feeding her enough, I fed her however much she would take each day maybe 3 or 4 Times depending on if I was at work or not, but I guess her diet wasnt varied enough and she lost a lot of weight, she is basically just skin and bone right now so I feed her some calorie-dense nutrient paste stuff for dogs right after I wake up and before I go to sleep. Either way, her energy levels seemed to improve and she is managing to eat by herself if she can wedge herself between something (for example, her little igloo and the side of her cage). As far as what's gotten worse, she seems to have gotten the hang of walking against walls but without walls she basically can't function. Her balance seems to be a little worse and she seems to be eating slower, although I think that might just be because shes sick of baby food, she eats very slowly still and is reluctant to drink water alone, which is new. Here is a video of her trying to eat a pancake, featuring her sisters.

 

lilspaz68

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you might have inner ear and PT on your hands. See how she pulls back while her forelegs are stiff in front of her as she tries to eat the pancake?

She still looks very dizzy so I don't think the chlorpalm did enough.

Did she ever look like this?

 

Ratamunch

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you might have inner ear and PT on your hands. See how she pulls back while her forelegs are stiff in front of her as she tries to eat the pancake?

She still looks very dizzy so I don't think the chlorpalm did enough.

Did she ever look like this?

She definitely has trouble holding food, although her eyes look a lot different than the rat in that picture. I could try feeding her hard food and sending a video, usually when she tries to eat on her own she either just leans against whatever she can or tries to lay on her side and chew it. She was, however, chewing on their newspaper litter bedding without issue for a while, until she started just grinding her teeth and being able to chew on food instead. Just to add on, this was taken a week ago, I was working and it was the only video of her I had on hand that showed her trying to move around. I should be able to get a better and more updated video in about an hour
 

lilspaz68

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yeah it sounds like a severe case of inner ear and you should try other antibiotics, insist on baytril being one of them at least.

Depending on what staple you use for your rats, you can make a lab block mush and that will be much easier for her to eat. For compressed blocks like Mazuri, Harlan etc, you can just soak them in a lot of water. For small compressed ones like Oxbow Regal rat you will need to grind them in a coffee grinder first then add water.
 

Ratamunch

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I recorded a video of her eating and trying to move around, this is the first I've seen her try to eat like this so I'm not sure if this is just a sign of things getting worse or not.
 

Ratamunch

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oh i forgot to mention this, but should i keep giving her the chlor-palm until her appointment tuesday morning? additionally, how many days should i have been giving her the prednisone? i went to a second vet and they told me to stop after 2 doses which felt very short, could that have been part of the problem?
 

lilspaz68

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you can give the prednisone up to a week, after that you will have to taper her of. 2 days is too short.
OK lets make her happier, give her soft food to eat, as she's hungry. Flavoured baby cereal from the grocery store is perfect. it might be messy but it will help with fluid intake as well. Make sure its a nice consistency to lick up but not gluey...if you know what I mean? I see you are in Ontario, whereabouts? (I am in Toronto)
 

Ratamunch

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you can give the prednisone up to a week, after that you will have to taper her of. 2 days is too short.
OK lets make her happier, give her soft food to eat, as she's hungry. Flavoured baby cereal from the grocery store is perfect. it might be messy but it will help with fluid intake as well. Make sure its a nice consistency to lick up but not gluey...if you know what I mean? I see you are in Ontario, whereabouts? (I am in Toronto)
I am in north bay, Ontario. i actually picked some of the cereal up after my shift today, so thats convenient haha. about my other question though- should i keep giving her the chlor-palm until her appointment on tuesday or will she be fine for a few days?
 

Ratamunch

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she started the chlorpalm 15 days ago and she was meant to take it for 14 days. today is her first day off of it since the 23rd or 24th if i remember correctly.
 

lilspaz68

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and it didn't do much did it? You can stop.
There's so much going on with your girl, is she weak on one side (stroke)? you can often see it in the mouth, where one side will droop and she will hang limply
 

Ratamunch

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oh i misunderstood, i thought you were saying she was drooping in the video. aside from her eye being squinty and her head tilting to the right, she seems to be okay on both sides.
 

Dena

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To me it looks like she is just SUPER dizzy, and trying to balance with her front paws so she can eat. I would try to support her like cradle her under her belly and side and compensate for her, so she feels safe using both front feet to hold food. Or attempt to hold food. Once she's been on prednisone for a few days, you should see some change. It'll reduce swelling, and let the antibiotics do their job easier. Lilspaz, would it benefit her to take stuff he may have on hand, like cipro or something? Since it's still quite a few days until Tuesday?
 

Ratamunch

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How's your baby doing now?
I took her back to the vet on tuesday, they wanted me to put her down but I asked if we could try some more meds before we jumped to that. Right now she is on metacam and baytril, and she seems to be doing a little bit better but it's hard to say. Her appetite has certainly gone way up and she has a lot more energy, as well as a little bit better balance, but it's hard to say if that's just cause of the painkillers and the fact that shes eating and drinking now. One of her teeth is also extremely long and she isnt chewing anything on her own, but the vets dont want to try to do anything with it right now while shes still this sick. Overall an improvement, but it's hard to tell if shes gonna get better.
 
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