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Question
My daughters pet rat has what I believe is an absess on her neck and we can't afford to go to a vet. It has grown in only a day and does not seem to affect her. It wasn't there this morning but has grown quite large over the day. Can I treat this myself?

Answer
Dear John,

If it came on this quickly, there is good hope that it is an abscess.

If you brought the rat to the vet, besides diagnosing it as an abscess or something else, the vet could also both aspirate it and give her the best antibiotic for what it seems to be.

If you can't get to the vet easily-- and I understand-- there are still things you can do which are likely to be successful.

The first thing you do with an abscess is to treat it with heat 2-3 times a day for ten minutes. Rats' bodies are even a little warmer than ours, so if it isn't too hot for you, it isn't too hot for her.

People have tried different things.. sometimes people will use hot cabbage leaves in a sock around the body, but that probably won't work for you. I had a guy with an abscess on his lower abdomen and I took a strong Ziplock bag and filled it partway with hot water - seal out the air- and I held him on my lap with this heat pack in place as he ate soy  yogurt off of the top of a yogurt container. For someone else I suggested something firmer- a tomato, in half, heated in the microwave and in a Ziplock bag.  You will have to figure out what works.

The abscess should come close to the surface and open up, and it may look and smell horrific. The one I heat-treated was small and simply disappeared, but yours sounds much larger. Once it opens you have to keep it clean. Rinse it twice a day with saline and a Q tip. It should eventually heal into a normal scab and disappear. If it becomes red, puffy, begins to smell bad after it has closed up, or seems to hurt her, it is infected inside and has to be dealt with so she doesn't die of blood poisoning.


The second thing you should do is order some Baytril. You should have this on hand anyway, with rats, because it is what cures their typical sniffles and sneezes that accompany myco, which is what usually makes a rat sick. It is prescription only in most forms, but you can get it non prescription and formulated for birds at the Internet pigeon supply store Jedd's. You can't order it online because it is no longer legal for poultry, but you can get it by calling. The generic name for Baytril is enrofloxacin.

http://www.jedds.com/StoreFront.bok

Call 800-659-5928


If the abscess has not healed within a week, start on the Baytril and keep on it for at least 2 weeks even though it looks fine. Keep the Baytril to use for sniffles. Never give any antibiotic for less than two weeks no matter what; three is always better.


Here is information and dosing on Baytril, from ratfanclub.org


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Baytril (generic name: enrofloxacin)

Enrofloxacin is a broad spectrum antibiotic in the fluoroquinolone family.  It is bacteriocidal.  It is particularly good for Mycoplasma.  It can also be good for urinary infections, especially when used along with amoxicillin.  It can safely be used very long term in rats (ie. 2 years!) Other brand names  are usually similar to enrofloxacin, ie. Enrofloxin.

Enrofloxacin can be combined with doxycycline, penicillins, cephalosporins or gentamicin.  Do not use it with chloremphenicol.  It can interfere with the metabolism of bronchdilators, so doxycycline is better to use for rats on a bronchodilator.

The brand usually prescribed by vets is Baytril. The injectable form is usually 2.25% (22.5 mg/ml). Vets will sometimes want to give Baytril by injection, but it is highly caustic: DO NOT give Baytril by IM injection and only SQ when absolutely necessary as SQ injections can cause severe skin ulcers which take a very long time to heal.  I know of two rats who bled to death after scratching these ulcers!

Some vets grind Baytril tablets and mix them in a liquid flavoring.  These preparations should probably be refrigerated. The injectable liquid, which can be given orally, or 10% oral liquid should NOT be refrigerated because it will crystalize.

The recommended dose of enrofloxacin for rats is 10 mg/lb4 BID for at least 6 weeks or long term.  A generic 10% oral liquid (100 mg/ml) is available inexpensively from pigeon supply companies. I recommend Jeddís Pigeon Supply (see sources below.)  The dose for the 10% liquid is 0.1 ml/lb BID.

Clear liquid Baytril, either injectable or oral, tastes pretty bad. I have the best luck giving it mixed it in 2 teaspoons of an adult liquid supplement, such as Ensure, or soy infant formula, in a baby food jar lid on a flat magnet so the lid wonít tip over.  Donít mix a lot of it up ahead of time as that may affect its potency. I mix it just before giving it.

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Best of luck and health to her.


squeaks,

Natasha

Dosing for Baytril


Here is some more information:


http://ratguide.com/health/integumentary_skin/abscess.php

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I can answer questions about raising mice and caring for them as pets, with knowledge from my 38 years of having fancy mice as pets. I have NO MEDICAL TRAINING and you should take a sick mouse to the vet; but if you simply can't, I will try to help you. I LOVE PHOTOS!!! I ALSO LOVE UPDATES! Let me know how the little tyke is doing later on, for better or worse, especially orphans. It also helps me to help the next person. Please first search first: use 'Natasha Mice Mouse' with whatever else your question includes. Or check out these links: **** YOUR FIRST MOUSE (my video; rough draft): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNK4uqNZTbA&feature=share **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: http://www.youtube.com/user/CreekValleyCritters/videos?query=raising **** SEXING MICE: http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/sexing.cfm **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES: http://thefunmouse.com/info/index.cfm http://www.rmca.org/Resources/mousefaq.htm

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I have had mice for 40 years (since I was 5!). I raised them when I was a child but now I keep all females, and never fewer than three so that if one dies the others are not devastated, because they have each other.

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I run Rats and Mice are Awesome on Facebook. The official name is Rats are Awesome.

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B.A., M.A., M.A. in Linguistics: Yale University and University of Connecticut

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