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QUESTION: I am only writing because nothing has worked. I'm a long term owner. Daisy is a 1 year old intact dumbo female. Daisy began flank breathing and 'ticking,' which was diagnosed as pneumonia. She spent 72 hours in an oxygen incubator at vet, receiving breathing treatments with atenolol 3x per day. She came home on Clavamox (amoxicillin), Doxycycline, and Metacam. Metacam was discontinued when she showed right-side weakness in her forelimbs. No stiffness, no 'hard' clubbing, but dragging & folding. She also avoided water & seemed disoriented in space (not hesitating at ledges, etc). Vet felt she was too young for a PT, but after waiting for Metacam to wear off, introduced Prednisone. Those potential neuro symptoms have not returned. X-Ray showed no tumor in lungs, no fluid could be aspirated. Daisy is dropping weight and flank breathing has increased. There are no lung sounds. She is still not drinking or eating enough - maybe 1-2 blueberries, tiny piece of cooked potato. She will greedily strip the yogurt from a pretzel. She has been on meds since 11/13/12 (steroid later). She is still interacting, still struggling to get to me, she is not mouth breathing. Has it not been long enough on antibiotics? Is there anything else I can try? I don't want to give up to soon, and I've pulled some back from the grave with pneumonia before, but the sight of her little wasted body is breaking my heart. I don't want to wait til she is suffering horribly, but don't want to move too soon either. She does brux alot, indicating pain, but only when she's with me, which might be the opposite. I read your site faithfully. Please let me know your thoughts. I've never lost one so young.

ANSWER: Did the atenolol help?  Have you tried her on oral atenolol to see if that helps?  I would suggest putting her on Baytril also. Sometimes just the doxy isn't enough.

What dose of predisone is she on? If they helped her neuro signs, then she could have a PT. They do occur in rats her age.

Do you know about giving powdered soy infant formula to rats who are losing weight?

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QUESTION: Predisone was only .10 for 5 days then .05 for 5 days. She is at the end of that. Yes, the atenolol did help her during the incubator period. I did not know it could be given orally. I've lost girls to PT before, and I know that once she comes of the prednisone, if the symptoms come roaring back, that's pretty much it. I will ask about the Baytril - usually that's what we use, but vet wanted to use the Doxy and the Amoxicillin - usually he is very quick to prescribe Baytril. Where can I found out about the soy infant formula? Thank you so much for your help, I know how many demands you have.

If a rat has a PT you do not want to stop the prednisone. You want to give it for the rest of her life. Even if they don't have a PT pred does not usually cause a problem as long as they are also on an antibiotic.  

For info on giving the atenolol orally, see the article on Respiratory & Heart Disease on my website at on the Rat Info page.

Here is the info on the soy formula:

The best supplement for rats who aren’t eating well or who are losing weight is powdered soy infant formula from the grocery store.  (The liquid form goes bad too fast.)  The brand doesn’t matter because they’re all about the same (Wal-mart's store brand is cheapest).  They contain pretty much all the nutrients a baby needs, and they are 50% fat, so they help put the weight back on them fast.

Mix a little of the powder in water, pedialyte, or juice.  You can mix it as thick or as thin as you need to.  Thick encourages intake of nutrients and can be fed off your finger, thin encourages intake of fluids.  Most rats love it and will lick it out of a little dish. You can also give it with an eyedropper or syringe. You can also soak or mix ground rat blocks in it.

The infant formula is nearly a complete diet for rats. The only nutrients the formula is short on for rats is the B vitamins.  When giving the formula longterm, add enough liquid vitamin B complex supplement to supply 1 mcg of B12 to each scoop of formula, or you can add ¼ Tablespoon of nutritional yeast (available at health food stores) per scoop of powder.  If your rat doesn’t like it, try adding a tiny drop of vanilla extract or other flavoring.  If that doesn’t work, try adding some whipped cream or ice cream.

If the formula is pretty much all your rat is eating, give one scoop of the powder in the morning and another scoop at night.  One scoop a day is enough if the rat is eating other foods.

I highly recommend my Rat Health Care booklet which includes this and a lot more helpful info.  You can find more info about the booklet on my website at on the Books page.  

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Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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