Author Topic: Rat losing a lot of weight  (Read 575 times)

Offline Joeydoey123

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Rat losing a lot of weight
« on: October 31, 2016, 04:35:40 PM »
My rat, Chilli, is almost 2 1/2 years now and has been struggling with respiratory infections for a long while now. Every time they come back we give him antibiotics and they disappear for a few months before they eventually come back. Every time he gets antibiotics he eats very little and loses weight. The last month he has been getting his respiratory infection back, and has lost a lot of weight.

Previously he weighed about 600-700 grams (which is little compared to what he weighed when he was younger) but he wasn't underweight, but now he just weighs 500 grams. A week ago he started antibiotics again, and now he eats even less. I can tell he is still full of energy even though he isn't able to move live he used to because of trouble with his hind legs.

The last week I have tried giving him fatty and sugary foods to help him gain weight, but does anyone have any other suggestions to what I can do to help him gain weight?

Offline Kitsch Slapped

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Re: Rat losing a lot of weight
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2016, 05:48:27 PM »
Have you seen a vet for his respiratory issues recently? If youre just continuing meds from previous illnesses, you should get a checkup to at least see what they have to say about his weight -if you havent already.

Double check his teeth, make sure he hasnt developed malocclusion or anything that might cause problems eating.
There us a product you can buy at Petco or Petsmart, called Nutrical (its a calorie supplement paste/gel). You can use the ones for ferrets or for cats. We've used both and the rats usually eat it right up. If I remember right my vet recommended giving them 2ml daily, but you might call your vet and double check that they would recommend that for your particular rat/situation. Also try anything soft/soupy (easier to eat when they are having breathing difficulties) such as baby food. Mine LOVE the gerber baby cereal. Its a powder that you just mix with water or you could even use non-dairy milk like coconut milk (good for getting extra calories in him too but be careful about giving him dairy -which is why I recommend coconut milk, rats really shouldnt have regular milk and it can interact with some meds you may be giving him).

Very sorry you both are going through this. I hope he gets better soon.  :heart:
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 05:52:14 PM by Kitsch Slapped »
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Offline Vonda Z

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Re: Rat losing a lot of weight
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2016, 11:24:16 PM »
In my experience, with rats that are losing weight during illness, trying to get them to gain weight with diet is fighting a losing battle. It is very important to get to the cause of the illness. With rats that have recurrent respiratory infections that get better briefly on antibiotics but then just recur, there is a high likelihood that the respiratory infections are secondary to another problem. In my experience, lung tumors are one common cause of recurring respiratory infections. The antibiotics treat the secondary infection, but the root cause of the problem, the tumor, is unaffected, so respiratory infections just return. It is not uncommon for the antibiotics to stop having an effect as the tumor worsens and becomes itself a more significant contributor to symptoms.

If it were me, I would have the vet do x-rays to determine if there are any masses in the lungs (or if something else is going on like CHF). If tumors are detected, steroids are an option for helping slow the growth and reduce the inflammation. Steroids also have the added benefit of stimulating appetite, so there is a chance the steroids will help with his weight loss to a small degree. If secondary infections are at play, you will likely want to continue antibiotics, as steroids weaken the immune response to infection. However, if the antibiotics are depressing the appetite and don't seem to be helping with symptoms, then you may want to try just the steroid alone as the antibiotics won't help with the tumor itself. Some antibiotics do depress the appetite - SMZ is one of them. But SMZ is not usually prescribed for respiratory infections in rats unless the infection is thought not to be myco-related.

And as far as diet goes, when they are ill, I will give them anything they will eat. Baby food and oatmeal are popular with my rats. Yogurt is also appreciated - but only if it will not interfere with the meds (Baytril and Doxy should not be given with dairy, for example). If they are eating solid foods, scrambled eggs are often a good choice as they contain fats and lots of nutrients and rats think they are yummy. Avocado is also high in healthy fats.

Good luck and I hope Chili starts responding to his meds and gaining the weight back.

Offline Joeydoey123

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Re: Rat losing a lot of weight
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2016, 03:18:11 AM »
Thanks for the response! My vet doesn't know a lot about rats and each time we go back he listens so Chilli's lungs and gives him the exact same meds, and I don't think he has the knowledge to diagnose him with anything else. We have spent a lot on vet bills for Chilli already (for various reasons), my dad tries to avoid going to the vet as much as possible, and has told me that since Chilli is so old we won't be spending a lot more on vet visits. This is because of the other times we have gone there with a sick rat they always tell us just to him euthanized.
 
I will however check his teeth later today.

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: Rat losing a lot of weight
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2016, 08:01:49 AM »
You may want to call the vet and ask about the potential for administering steroids. If the vet has already seen him and knows his history of recurrent respiratory issues, they may be willing to give steroids a try without an x-ray based on history alone, since steroids are kind of a try it and see if it helps thing anyway. Prednisolone is an inexpensive drug and if you don't use it all, you can keep it on hand in case another rat becomes ill.

For the future, I would recommend saving up for a vet fund yourself so that you don't have to rely on your dad. (And from a parent's perspective, when I see my kids working hard to be responsible for the things they care about, I am much more likely to help them out when they need it). Unfortunately, as rats get older, they are very prone to health problems and that is the exact time when you need to be able to spend more - if they can notbe treated and cured, then to keep them comfortable and to help them pass peacefully when the time is right. Rats are, unfortunately, a very expensive pet for this reason.

Again, good luck. I would try a phone call to the vet at the least. The call will cost you nothing and they may be able to get you different meds if they think it will help without another visit.