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Pet Rats/Excessive Thirst in Pet Rat

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Hi Irene: I'm worried about a couple of things going on with my 18 year old female rat, Tanith. I took Tanith and her sister to the vet last month because Tanith has an occasional faint whistle in her nostrils that comes and goes and I'd wanted the vet to listen to her lungs; she very rarely sneezes, barely any porphyrin, no other noises. He heard nothing. When he weighed them, he said Tanith was just over 600 grams and her sister about 580 or so, and that it would be a good idea to try and get them to lose a bit of weight through gradual lessening of amounts of food. He found nothing out of order.  He gave me baytril and some doxy for two weeks as a preventative.  A holistic practitioner who works with animals also gave me a gentle detox liquid called 'Phyto-Drainol' to help move any toxins out of her body, among a few other homeopathic remedies. About three weeks ago I noticed that Tanith started drinking more water than she usually had in the past. Both girls never seemed to go to the water bottle much, but preferred to eat fresh veg,fruit, rice milk, etc.  Now I notice Tanith at the water bottle about eight times a day. She doesn't seem to be drinking more than about two ounces, but this drinking more at the bottle just started recently. There is no smell to the urine; nothing sweet or sticky. It doesn't seem to me as if there's great amounts of urine; maybe a bit more dampness than usual, and she's lost a bit of weight (just under 50 grams) and doesn't seem to look as 'round' as she had.  I don't know whether this thirst is attributable to the detox homeopathic remedies from the naturopath, and subsequently the slight weight loss (as I've also cut back on diet; they've always had a healthy diet, maybe a bit too much food if anything), or if it could be a problem with her kidneys or thyroid. Her behavior is good; playful, energetic, coat not fluffed, eyes clear, no sneezing, no lethargy, good color to the extremities, etc. Other than the sudden extra thirst and slight weight loss, she is her usual self. I'm stopping the homeopathic remedies (Amino NAC, this Phyto-drainol) in case they are putting stress on the kidneys. If the thirst keeps up over the week, I will bring her back to the vet for a urine and blood sample test. She's never had any illness signs before; always been a happy, energetic, healthy rat.  Any suggestions on what to do or what it may be? Thanks so much for your time.

Answer
Wow!  If Tanith is 18 years old, that's an exceptionally long life for a rat!  I wish our beloved ratties would live that long.  LOL I know you meant 18 months though.

Something is not quite right with the increased drinking and weight loss.  You have the right idea...I definately agree to stop the homeopathic treatment and watch Tanith for return to normal.  

With kidney disease, there usually is an increase in water intake and a decrease in urine output, showing the kidneys are not filtering properly.  You mentioned there is a bit more dampness with the extra water intake, but you should monitor this a little closer.  The input/output should be about the same.  

I have to ask if your vet is a qualified exotic vet or at least has extensive experience in treating rats?  If not, I strongly recommend finding one even if you have to travel a bit out of your area.  You need a proper diagnosis which can only be arrived at by a thorough exam and getting blood work done, and you use an exotic vet moving forward if yours is not one.  If you cannot find one in your area, I can help you locate one if you tell me your city an state.

By the way, you mentioned that the vet suggested your rats lose a little weight.  I just want to point out that giving less food is not the right way to go about it.  It's the type of food and not the quantity that usually affects a rat's weight.  Rats should have a dry food mix or lab blocks available to them in their living space 24 x 7.  Rats do not generally overeat...they have a very fast metabolic rate and eat small amounts frequently during day and night.  The mistake many rat owners make is to purchase bagged dry mixes from pet stores.  These are usually much higher in fat and protein than they should be (too many seeds, corn, and other bad things).  Ideally, a rat's dry diet should be extremely low in fat and protein and very high in carbs.  Making your own dry mix is much healthier, and also very easy to make and much less expensive.  You can find many rat dry mix home recipes on the Internet if you do a search.  I created my own after reading through many ideas on the net.  It sounds like you are already offering healthy fresh food choices to them, so that is good and should be continued.

Please let me know if I can help you with anything else.  

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Irene Murphy

Expertise

I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.

Experience

I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

Education/Credentials
I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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