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QUESTION: I think my rat has a cold, she is sneezing a lot but there is no red discharge. I'm worried this could turn into somthing worse, what can I do to cure her? And if I can give her human medicaton what is the best? and how much can I give her? Please help me help Lucy :)

ANSWER: Dear Jessie,

Lucy must go to the vet. Rats don't actually show any signs of illness until they are pretty sick, because they are prey animals and have to hide from predators. Imagine sneezing while hiding from a coyote!  So it is important to take every sign of illness very seriously. There is no such thing as "just a cold" in a rat, which they just get over by themselves. It is not unusual for there to be no red discharge. In all of my rat illnesses (and rats get sick a lot), I don't think I have had any with poryphorin. The most common symptoms are sneezing and making (sometimes "cute," unfortunately) sounds.

Your vet will probably give you one or two antibiotics; Baytril or doxycycline, and amoxicillin. They are for two different things. Although the rat will hopefully seem all better within 5 days, you must give all of the medications for, if possible, two weeks. Don't argue with your vet on this; it is better to give more than less, and many times rat illnesses just come back if they are medicated for less than that. Even my vet, who is very experienced, doesn't tell me long enough, and if I follow his advice my sickly older rat used to just get sick again. Amoxicillin is no longer good after two weeks, so you will need to throw that out. The other, if straight, can be refrigerated and kept for the next time, within a year. If mixed with a yummy flavor, only two months. Still it is worth flavoring it.

You can give the antibiotics by mouth with a syringe with no needle (ask the pharmacy or vet), or by mixing it in something yummy. My boys will take about anything in blueberry soy yogurt, except doxycycline when, even flavored, tastes horrible; that they will eat in a rice milk/peanut butter or rice dream/chocolate sauce mix. Water them down till they pour like syrup, or Lucy might choke. Peanut butter is very dangerous.

You need a vet who is experienced in either "pocket pets" or "exotics." Cat and dog vets just can't guess well enough. Rats are very different from cats and dogs. For instance, rats can't vomit. That is pretty important to know!

Best of luck to Lucy. She should make a full recovery if you act right away (unless she is sicker than you mention). But don't wait. Rats are very delicate and can die overnight when you hadn't even known they were very sick.

squeaks,

Natasha






---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I took Lucy to the vet today and got two different meds :) she takes them twice a day and she also gets to sit in a steamy bathroom 15 min a day :) thank you for your advice!! Lucy and I apriciate it very much :)

Answer
Dear Jessie,

I am so glad you were able to take her to the vet. Sometimes people think those symptoms are no more important that a person who gets a little sick, and then the ratty dies. I am sure Lucy will get well. And some rats love the steam treatment. But be soooo careful that she does not get cold afterwards. I hold the rat in my hand lightly wrapped up in a towel, go under the covers, and very slowly adjust her to the room temperature.

Kisses to Lucy :)

Squeaks,

Natasha

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Natasha Millikan

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Consider me a sub, when no one else is available. NOTE YOU MUST NOT HAVE ONLY ONE RAT. JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP (because there are smarter people than me there!!): ***** https://www.facebook.com/groups/RatsandMiceareAwesome/. ***** Excellent sites: http://ratguide.com/ **** http://lilspazrats.wikispaces.com/ **** http://www.ratbehavior.org/rats.html **** http://www.ratfanclub.org/ **** http://www.sandyscrittercity.com/ **** http://www.ratwhisperer.net/ ****

Experience

I have had rats for 3-1/3 years and have researched them extensively. I am a mouse expert with 40 years' experience with mice. The two species are similar and yet also quite different.

Organizations
My Facebook group is Rats (and Mice) are Awesome. https://www.facebook.com/groups/RatsandMiceareAwesome/

Education/Credentials
I have a Bachelor's and two Master's degrees in Linguistics

Awards and Honors
I am honored that my rats love me!

Past/Present Clients
My Facebook group, Rats are Awesome, serves at the moment 5300 members, and, considering all the huge rescues, probably averages 5 rats per member. That means my clients are about 25,000 rats!!!

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