Wobbly, Mouth-Breathing Baby-- Please Help

Discussion in 'Health & General Care' started by slugmilk, Apr 11, 2018.

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  1. Apr 11, 2018 #1

    slugmilk

    slugmilk

    slugmilk

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    Hello, about 2 weeks ago I took in two fairly young male rats (Errol and Norbert) from a friend who adopted them at a local pet store. I'd say they're about 2 or 3 months old, but I'm not entirely certain. They've always been quite sneezy, but I figured it was just the new home sneezes. Everything was going absolutely fine up until yesterday morning when I went to check on them. Errol, my hooded baby, didn't come out to greet me, even though he's always been the outgoing one. I didn't think much of it, but a few hours later when going to bring them new toys, I found Errol hunched over himself right outside of his box. He didn't come when I attempted to get him to, and he seemed almost shocked in place. I picked him up and he was unbelievably fragile-- he felt so frail. I got him to drink a little electrolyte water and nibble on a piece of banana while I called my vet, but he still seemed off. The vet listened to his lungs, heart, and just did a general check-up, and said he may have had some abdominal pain but a respiratory infection didn't seem likely as his lungs sounded fine and she wasn't concerned with the levels of porphyrin secreting from his nose. She sent me home with fluid to inject under his skin and some pain meds to inject once this morning (Meloxicam, 1.5mg/ml; Omeprazole, 10mg/ml). After we returned from the vets, however, things took a turn for the worse. He became shaky and wobbly, completely uninterested in food and water, and just seemed miserable and scared. We cuddled for hours, with him resting on a heating pad and then cuddling with his brother during a few breaks in between. He lost all sense of balance, and his head was tilted at an odd angle. He had a few seizing fits, and I didn't think he'd make it through the night. This morning when I went to check on him and give him his medicine, he started fighting back during the injections, but soon after started mouth breathing. I became increasingly worried at this point and called my vet. She said we should perhaps try antibiotics, and she placed both Errol and his brother Norby (as he was beginning to show some of the signs as Errol) on 8cc of Enrofloxacin 2.27% injections every 12 hours. He has been mouth breathing all day, and I'm terribly worried. My older resident rat, Otter, has had contact with both rats over the past few days, as we've been working on bonding them all. He's in a separate room now, however I'm worried he's going to develop these symptoms too. It's been years since I've had rats, and I've never dealt with a sick one, much less two. Any suggestions, advice, or information would be excruciatingly appreciated. I'm so scared.
     
  2. Apr 11, 2018 #2

    Luna&Ralph

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    It sounds like a possible inner ear infection. If it is an ear infection, the Baytril should help but it may take a while. Inner ear infections are usually caused by URIs that have spread, so they both could have gotten URIs from the stress of moving and then they got worse, which would explain the gasping and thenm generally feeling bad. Are they siblings? It could be something genetic, maybe a brain tumour? Hopefully not obviously but it’s a possibility. I’m concerned that your vet isn’t more concerned about about the mouth breathing though, from what I’ve read that’s an emergency situation. If there are any other vets that take rats in your area, I would try calling them and see what they say. I hope they feel better soon and that your older guy doesn’t catch anything!
     
  3. Apr 11, 2018 #3

    slugmilk

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    I'm not entirely sure if they're siblings or not. They came pretty bonded, and they seem to be about the same size and age. Do the medication levels seem right? I've read a lot about underdosing antibiotics, but I'm not experienced with the meds, and I'm not very well acquainted with this vet yet. They're tiny little dudes! I believe my sister had a rat with an inner ear infection when we were younger, but it never got this bad. Also, the vet tech didn't seem to understand the seriousness of the mouth breathing, but the actual vet said it was most likely just due to stress. I've noticed he's not doing it constantly, either. A lot of the time when he's cuddled up next to me he seems to be a lot more comfortable. I really hope it is just a stress thing, but I'll be calling another vet tomorrow to get a second opinion. Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate the support and experience.

    Edit: Also, my vet has only given me enough Baytril for 2 injections a day for 3 days for each rat. That's not nearly long enough, is it?
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  4. Apr 11, 2018 #4

    Luna&Ralph

    Luna&Ralph

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    You should be able to tell if an antibiotic is working in 3 to 4 days and either switch to another one or add a different one if not, but 3 days is not enough to treat anything, so I wonder why the vet would only give you that much. I also think it’s interesting that your vet chose to give you injectable drugs vs. drugs administered orally when you don’t have experience with medications. I’m sure you’re perfectly capable to give them, but that just seems odd to me. How are you finding giving the injections? Did your vet show you how to do them? You must be doing them subcuteneuosly since you need to be at least a tech to do anything else.
    There are some people on this forum that are great with drug dosages but unfortunately I am terrible at math and have no experience with injectables for rats, so I’m sorry that I can’t help you there. Maybe you could ask the other vet when you call tomorrow.
    I think your vet is right about the stress causing the gasping though, and I wouldn’t worry too much if you notice that it’s getting better. One of my rats got scared by a cat/loud noise once and started gasping for a few seconds, so it seems to be a stress response.
     
  5. Apr 11, 2018 #5

    slugmilk

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    Unfortunately I lost my sweet Errol a short while ago. The vet has offered to perform a free autopsy in hopes that I can help my other two, but it honestly all happened so fast I'm fairly shocked. The injections were subcutaneous, and they did teach me how to perform them, although it's not very pleasant. I know they wanted the fluids to be injected as he wasn't drinking and that's the most effective way to do it, but I don't know about the medicine. Hopefully I'll find out what went wrong soon so we can get on the right track helping my other boys. I'm a little worried about Norbert being alone, but I'm glad to have already started the bonding process with my resident rat, I suppose. Would you suggest starting him on antibiotics, as well? I don't want to risk losing him.
     
  6. Apr 11, 2018 #6

    jorats

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    I'm very sorry for your loss. I hope you do take your vet up on her offer. This is how vets will learn about rats. My own vet did so many necropsies on my guys and that's why she's an awesome exotic vet now.
     
  7. Apr 11, 2018 #7

    Luna&Ralph

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    I'm so sorry. A sudden loss like that is always difficult.
    I would ask a vet about starting your older guy on antibiotics because obviously you don't want to cause resistance but we don't want him to get sick either. It might be a good idea to start him on a weaker antibiotic that he probably won't use later, like Chlorpalm. If you're from the US then you may be able to get fish or bird doxycycline and/or amoxicillin from the pet store if it's an emergency and he starts showing symptoms before you can get an appointment.
    As far as the other guy being alone goes, if he's as sick as he seems he probably doesn't even know that he's by himself. Of course it would help him heal to have a friend with him, but you're doing everything you can for him right now. I've heard that it can help a lone rat to put a stuffed animal in the cage for them to snuggle with when he can't snuggle with you. Make sure it's rat safe and doesn't have anything that he can pull of if it, but he likely won't chew on it if he's feeling so bad.
     
  8. Apr 13, 2018 #8

    SQ

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    I am so very sorry for what happened to Errol. {{hugs}}

    You may want to find a vet more knowledgeable about treating rats. If you stick with this vet, then make sure she is willing to learn more about rats, to consult with other vets etc. Your vet knows little about rats ... for example enrofloxacin is never given to rats by injection; rats need to take antibiotics for 6 weeks if they are helping, if antibiotics are not starting to help after a few days then other antibiotics or combinations of antibiotics are given; and open mouth breathing is a medical emergency situation which the vet did not seem to recognize.

    A necropsy may help the others and may help the vet learn more and be a better rat vet. After it is done you should be able to get his body back for burial or cremation.

    How are your other rats? Are they on medication?
     

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