Pet Rats/Rat fur in poor condition after hormonal implant
QUESTION: Hi Natasha I have a 23 month old Russian Blue Dumbo who has always had a lovely shiny sleek coat. Now it is turning a brownish colour and completely lost its lustre. She had a hormone implant put in about 6 months ago following a tumour removal. Do you think this could be anything to do with it? We also changed her diet to a complete food because she is morbidly obese but she hasn't lost any weight I'm worried this could also be due to the implant any ideas? Her cage mate also had an implant but she is ill with Myco at the moment and on antibiotics and metacam she nearly died and had to be hospitalised last week and put on oxygen due to a useless vet who wouldn't help me I am so worried about both of them please help. I have learnt everything I can about Myco and things that trigger it and I make sure everything I do and the conditions they are kept in won't cause it to get worse but I feel I'm possibly fighting a losing battle. Please advise.
ANSWER: Dear Karen,
A hormonal implant is known to affect the skin, and it is the skin oil which makes the glossy fur. The color change also comes from the skin, where the hair follicles are located. Although rats usually do not change the color of their fur as they get elderly, there are often some subtle changes or changes in a few places - a few white furs, etc- for the same reasons as humans do. So it is very possible that the implant has caused this change. Hormones affect all sorts of crazy things.
However, we can't rule out another cause, such as illness, new tumor, or organ disorder. Has her behavior been the same as usual during the time of this change? When a rat is sick, they often neglect their fur, and that would cause it not to be glossy. Is she grooming? Of course that would not change the color.
Your best bet is to let your vet know and see if they want her to come back in. They may need to do some bloodwork to find out the cause.
As for the obesity- it is very hard to help a rat to lose weight once it has become fat or obese. However, you may not be feeding her the best diet. What do you mean by "complete food?" Do you mean a kibble/chunk/pellet diet? Some of these are good and some are not. Let me know what you are using and I can ask around to see what my other rat-experienced and rat expert friends can tell us about it. I use Oxbow Regal Rat, which is great. Also, every rat should have fresh or frozen vegetables and a bit of fruit once a day. The coat change could be a symptom of a diet deficiency, so this is important.
If you do write back, let me know the vet's thinking about putting in the implant. It isn't all that common. Do you mean a tamoxifen implant? Or deslorin?
I certainly hope she is not ill and the fur change is a benign effect of the implant. I am sorry that the other girl is sick :(.
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QUESTION: Hi Natasha thank you so much for answering my question its so nice to know you can speak to someone. In answer to your questions the implant is deslorin it was decided to use this after Chiara's tumour removal to see if it would help stop further tumours growing. I have wondered myself if this could cause the coat deterioration. Luna also has an implant but as she is a Powder blue Rex its difficult to see any difference lol she always looks a mess! As for the food they used to eat Mr Johnsons Ruppert rat mix up until about July last year this is when Chiara had her tumour removal and the implant put in. The vet then advised changing to Supreme Science Selective which is a kibble the other was a mix rather like rabbit mix. One other thing I must add is both of them have been having the antibiotic Tylosin in their drinking water since October last year because of Luna's breathing problems but at the time I wasn't happy about giving it to Chiara as well because she is fine but the vet said it would be ok. I have wondered if this could be affecting her coat as well. There are so many factors atm. The vet that has prescribed all this I am no longer going to because he sent Luna home last Tues after numerous visits to him saying there was nothing else he could do for her breathing and basically in my eyes sent her home to die. He is the so called Exotic Vet in our area. That night in desperation because she was really struggling to breath I contacted my own vet who deals with my dog. We rushed her in at midnight and he put her in an oxygen tank gave her Batril (which the other vet wouldn't prescribe) and a Meloxicam injection he stayed with her all night and thank god she pulled through he was fantastic! She is now at home and having medication. We are keeping our fingers crossed she is doing really well atm just a few sneezes no noise! I hope this isn't too long thank you once again it is so nice to speak to someone knowledgeable. :)
Thank you so much for writing back. It is very interesting. It sounds like you found a pretty rotten exotics vet. I'm glad your regular vet was smart.
I do hope Luna gets well. She has had a really tough time.