Author Topic: Old Man Question  (Read 164 times)

Offline RooRat

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Old Man Question
« on: May 19, 2017, 02:01:56 PM »
Pyp's about 2 years 4 months. He's gotten more old lately, pretty quickly, though he still snatches food like a youngster :yelcutelaugh:

Recently I've noticed more weakness in his hind end, as well as some heavy breathing. We went to the vet for a checkup. His balding back can be attributed to his buck grease matting his fur and pulling it out. Skin scraping turned up negative for critters and he doesn't have any redness or itching, so that's good. She noted his breathing was fast and heavier, but said it could be because he was at the vet (stressful!). His lungs sounded clear. No tumors that she could feel, either (yay!). She suggested I keep an eye on his breathing and let her know if it was that heavy at home too, and since I've been watching I've noticed that he does breathe fairly heavily at home most of the time. He sleeps in the dark back of cardboard boxes or in his dark space pod, so I can't tell how he breathes when he's asleep. The vet said maybe that was normal for him, or maybe it was indicative of something wrong. Asking you knowledgable folks for opinions.

He has trouble pushing himself up onto things, relying more on his front end to pull. His balance kind of sucks (he fell off my shoulder a couple times - landed in my full laundry basket the first time, and into my waiting arms the second, so he didn't get hurt), and when he walks across a flat surface, sometimes his hips will fall to one side, almost like his leg gives out. He flips his feet over onto the tops, sole-up, and will right them, but it takes a bit before he does. Sometimes he doesn't bother ::) I've also noticed him having to put a paw down to balance when he's eating a treat.

I know HED is a fairly common old rat ailment, but Pete's looked different than this (seemed like more weakness, fewer balance issues), and now I'm wondering if maybe Pyp has PT, or if maybe Pete had PT and Pyp just has normal old HED? Is there any way to tell without trying steroids? He's, uh, not exactly cooperative, and stresses himself out when you try to drug him (or trim his nails :yelcutelaugh:). I've never gotten a full dose of anything into him as he absolutely refuses to swallow and will drool it all out. ::)

Video at this link of him walking, turning, and his hips falling to the side. Not the best video but gives you an idea. This one kind of shows his breathing - could be sniffing, but sniffing is usually quicker and less heavy-breathing movement? He has an awful lot of side movement  :-\

And this video, just because he's really adorable :heart:
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Offline BigBen

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2017, 11:45:15 PM »
You're right; he is adorable.  He looks really happy in the second video.

All I could tell from the first video is that there is definitely something wrong with his rear gait; you're not imagining it.  I couldn't get a good feel for what the problem was; I'm sorry.  However, your description of his butt falling over and the need to put a hand down while eating do sound like incipient PT, I'm afraid.  If you want to see if dexamethasone helps, I have had luck giving injections to rats that hated the oral syringe.  They hardly seemed to feel a sub-cutaneous injection at all.  That might be one way of getting a steroid into him as a test for PT.

Pyp's breathing does look a bit effortful, but as the vet said, it could just be the way he is.  If you really think it's a breathing problem, you could try administering a medication by nebulizer, but he might find that even more stressful than a syringe, I don't know.  My only experience with nebulizing was with my beautiful sweet Michael, and it traumatized him so much that it just wasn't worth it in the end.  (There might also have been a less stressful way to do it than the way I tried it; I've read descriptions on GM of how people nebulize their rats that sounded as though they might have worked better for poor Michael.)  But if Pyp's lungs sound clear, it might just be allergies, and you might be able to sneak some Benadryl or Sudafed into his food somehow--although if he's as smart as he looks, he'll probably catch on quickly to whatever ruse you try, lol!  Ratties! :doh:

In any case, he looks happy and cheerful, so whatever you decide to do, spoil him rotten and enjoy your time with him.
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Offline RooRat

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2017, 11:35:27 AM »
I just read the rat guide entry for PT and hadn't thought about the behavior changes, but he's gotten a lot mouthier recently. He nips at my neck and ears, and will use his teeth on skin without hesitation - not aggressively, but willingly.
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Offline Vonda Z

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2017, 06:36:03 PM »
I couldn't view the video so I can't comment on what it might look like to me, but I have found in my rats that balance issues were more likely to be PT. A flatter rat dragging the rear possibly with legs out to the side and not moving well is more likely to be HED.

The thinning fur could also be a sign of PT - theory being that it is related to Cushings syndrome from the PT. I have had two rats with PT with thinning fur. Both were poor Rexes, though, so the thinning fur could just be the poor rex expression getting worse.

That said, most of the rats I have had with PT were between 18 months and 2 years. At 2 years and 4 months, HED might be more likely. Of course, PT can strike at any age.

Good luck - hope it is HED and not PT.

Offline RooRat

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2017, 08:39:45 AM »
I couldn't view the video so I can't comment on what it might look like to me, but I have found in my rats that balance issues were more likely to be PT. A flatter rat dragging the rear possibly with legs out to the side and not moving well is more likely to be HED.

The thinning fur could also be a sign of PT - theory being that it is related to Cushings syndrome from the PT. I have had two rats with PT with thinning fur. Both were poor Rexes, though, so the thinning fur could just be the poor rex expression getting worse.

That said, most of the rats I have had with PT were between 18 months and 2 years. At 2 years and 4 months, HED might be more likely. Of course, PT can strike at any age.

Good luck - hope it is HED and not PT.

The balance issues started a few months back - they've been progressing sort of slowly. He's not allowed shoulder rides anymore as he makes mommy too nervous :yelcutelaugh: I no longer give him opportunities to hurt himself, and now he's only allowed either in my lap, securely in my hands, or on the floor without obstacles.

That's interesting about the thinning fur - I'll have to read up on that. My vet is great, and she loves rats, but she's not a rattie vet and whenever I bring him in, she'll tell me what she thinks might be going on, then go check a book, then come back to confirm. She knows the basics, obviously, but for anything more involved she does research. There really aren't reasonably priced rat vets around here - the only one I found was insanely pricey, and they insisted on x-rays when his leg swelled up even though I told them (and they agreed) that there was nothing to do for a broken leg other than pain meds, which is what we were there for anyway as this wasn't the first time he'd sprained something.
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Offline RooRat

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2017, 03:07:45 PM »
I took another video today - this one shows both the lack of balance and heavy breathing (at least, I think it's more clear in this one than the last one). I caught him breathing like that in his sleep today. :-\ He had an old-man romp around the floor that consisted mostly of him chasing down every speck of treat that I'd put out for him :yelcutelaugh: Dude has an appetite.

Balance is off...


I put the video on YouTube this time. I can't figure out how to make it embed, so here's a link.

Link!

I saw a video of a rat with CHF and his breathing looked a lot like Pyp's (he even did the same deep breath sigh thing that Pyp does), but Pyp doesn't have any of the other symptoms (except maybe cool and pale extremities). I hope my little guy doesn't have both a PT and CHF... That would just be too much for one small rattie!
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Offline BigBen

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2017, 11:19:41 PM »
A good diagnostic for congestive heart failure is a prescription for Lasix--if it helps, he's probably got CHF.  Of course, the problem is how to get it into him.  My vet gave me a set of doses in syringes for one boy who hated oral meds.

I hate to say that the walking does look suggestive of PT, especially when his butt tips over.  I'm so sorry--PT is horrible, and I hate it.  I wish they'd find a cure.

Good luck with this sweet boy. :heart:
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Offline RooRat

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2017, 08:57:25 AM »
Thank you. I am relieved to finally know (at least mostly for sure) because he's seemed off for months without any concrete symptoms. Still, though, I wish it was just normal old man HED.

I doubt I could handle injections (I'm not a big fan of needles :yelcutelaugh:) but also I doubt he would let me. If he so much as sees the nail clippers, he's squalling and squirming ::) I'd just as likely stick myself! I may see how oral lasix works, though hopefully he won't have CHF in addition to PT :BlueDumboBigEyes:
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Offline RooRat

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2017, 07:48:47 AM »
Slightly morbid question here, but... About how long after symptoms start will a rat with PT live comfortably? I know it varies case by case, but is there an average?

I'm planning to take him in for a visit to get some trial Lasix to see if his breathing is just his breathing or if it's related to CHF. If he has CHF too, well... 

I wonder what the instances of CHF occurring alongside PT are ??? His appetite is nuts, which isn't indicative of CHF (those symptoms say little to no appetite), though it could be Cushing's caused by PT, I suppose - every time I put my hand in his cage, he grabs it and checks for food (think Meeko in the Pocahontas movie - he literally grabs my hand and checks on top and underneath for food offerings :yelcutelaugh:), gives me a couple licks, then a couple taste-nibbles (these are becoming a little more painful than they used to be :o). A couple nights ago he grabbed so many baby puffs out of my hand that he got one stuck in his mouth - I was getting ready to grab my tweezers when he finally got it loose. He's always been really into food, but it's gotten much more frantic and intense lately, like he simply can't get enough.

He sat with his head in the corner of his cage for a little while yesterday, bruxxing anxiously.  :-\

He's getting lots of snuggle time, which he enjoys. I got him to boggle yesterday, which he's only done on rare occasions in the two years I've had him. He almost fell asleep next to me, which he has never done, and as soon as he realized what was happening he was up and tottering off :yelcutelaugh:
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Offline BigBen

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2017, 07:57:03 PM »
Slightly morbid question here, but... About how long after symptoms start will a rat with PT live comfortably? I know it varies case by case, but is there an average?
. . . .

I don't think there is one.  For one thing, who knows how long the tumor has been there?  Also, some grow faster than others.

My beautiful sweet Anne, my first case of PT, lived quite a while, but that was because of my slowness in recognizing the progression of the disease.  I should have put her to sleep long before I actually did.  Her daughter, my beautiful sweet Elizabeth, lived quite comfortably for what felt like quite a long time on bromocriptine, until one Sunday night, she absolutely refused the medication.  She gradually lost interest in food after that, until three nights later when I went to pick her up for a cuddle, she died in my hand (I believe she waited for me to come fetch her).  That was the most peaceful PT death I've experienced.  Usually something goes visibly wrong and I end up rushing to the vet (either regular or emergency).  I am trying to get better at recognizing the signs a bit sooner, so as to avoid those final minutes of suffering, but my persistent desire to postpone saying goodbye tends to interfere with my judgement.
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Offline RooRat

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2017, 09:09:19 PM »
I can understand that. Part of me hopes he passes peacefully at home, but I doubt that'll happen. I'm keeping an eye on him and he's still pretty spunky, even if his back end doesn't always do what he wanted, so I think we have a bit. I guess we'll just take it day by day and I'll spoil him. I'm planning to make a bonding pouch tomorrow so I can more easily sit outside with him (and not worry that he'll fall out of my arms, as he's kind of prone to doing).  We sat outside for a bit with me in a vackwards hoodie and him in my hood and he seemed to enjoy the sniffs.

It's strange because it feels like I'm reliving losing Pete a few years ago. Pete very nearly made it to my birthday (I remember because I was going to give him some cake, since I was pretty sure he was close to the end and what would a little cake hurt at that point?) but he went downhill quickly and I ended up having to take him in early. Now that we're almost a week out from my birthday, I started thinking I'd like l give Pyp some cake, and then I started remembering Pete  :'( Extra sads happening at the moment, which translate to extra cuddles.
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Offline BigBen

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2017, 03:47:58 PM »
So sorry for the extra memories, but don't wait--Pyp wants some cake now! :yelcutelaugh: :occasion15:

(You can always give him more on your birthday!)
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
RatCode:  1m0f18r !B C? D+ F S-- ocA reC sM a+++ e++++ n

Offline RooRat

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2017, 06:43:16 PM »
I like how you think! Guess I'm making a cake tomorrow  :yelcutelaugh:

Chocolate cake should be alright, right? That's my go to. But I suppose I could experiment a little  ;D
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Offline BigBen

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Re: Old Man Question
« Reply #13 on: Today at 11:05:13 AM »
Chocolate, yum!  :thumbsup:
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
RatCode:  1m0f18r !B C? D+ F S-- ocA reC sM a+++ e++++ n