Terminal Respiratory Distress + Options for Comfort/PTS?

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New Member
Aug 4, 2022
Toronto, ON
Hi Rat Shack Forum!

I've been a lurker on here for the past couple of years and have gotten so much help from everyone's suggestions, but this is my first time posting; I lost my first ever rat Haseyo to a PT just this Sunday, and now her lone sister Onion has declined very suddenly - I was wondering if anyone had been in a similar situation and could perhaps offer some wisdom/guidance.

Onion has had a respiratory infection every year and always responded well to meds, but unfortunately due to incorrect dosing by my vet that interrupted her course, she never seemed to recover fully this time despite being on a month of antibiotics. Right after her sister's death, she was refusing meds so we had decided to syringe feed her (BIG MISTAKE), and she's been much worse ever since (she's always hated being held). She wheezed for almost the entire day after, and we added furosemide to her medications as we realized it might be a heart condition/water accumulating in her lungs (she was a bit bloated and propped up to breathe when it got bad); now a couple days later, the respiratory distress is much more intermittent, but still acts up when she gets excited with treats or startled.

I had been so focused on the medical side of things with her sister and holding onto hope for recovery that I'm now filled with regret for not just being there and comforting her more. I don't want to make the same mistake with Onion.

I know how distressing this must be for her, and I don't want to prolong her suffering; I've decided to focus on getting her furosemide for now as she's absolutely REFUSING the antibiotics and it brings her so much stress & suffering (although I'm still trying different mixes to see if she'll take some on her own).

I'd love to know what exactly might be causing all this, and if I may have caused a cardiac/aspiration event that morning, but I'm much more concerned about how I can make the next few days~weeks as enjoyable as I can for her; she comes for treats, but runs out of breath easily; I've tried to give her lots of elevated hides and intermittent attention to calm down. I'm also wondering if there are any medications that may help with palliative care, such as painkillers or even opioids? When the time comes for her to cross over, I'm distraught that I'll have to take her on that last stressful trip and that she'll go in distress.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts/experiences/or even just kind words to share - I appreciate anything <3

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