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Pet Rats/Rat started to pull out her stitches 9 days after surgery.

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Hi, I originally posted this on Yahoo Answers this morning, and haven't gotten any helpful replies so I thought I'd give All Experts a chance :)I was wondering if I could get some advice before having to find another vet (mine's office is closed for the next week, and It's hard to find an exotic vet where I live). Last Monday (1/14) I took my 1 yr old rat to the vet to get a tumor removed from behind her front right leg (right at the joint by her elbow, and they cut partly down her side as well). Everything was going great. It was healing nicely, no signs of infection, and I didn't see her mess with it once. The other day I finally bought some Hydrogen peroxide, which my vet told me I could use to clean her incision (i've been very busy, so it took me about a week to finally get some) so I thought; rather late than never I should clean it off a little. Well, I dabbed a little on and she didn't seem to mind, but after I left the room and came back I noticed her acting strange and saw that she was messing with her stitches ...she ended up finding the end of the stitches (where the vet tied the end in a little knot) and she had started to pull it out from behind her arm-by her elbow (so it's right on her joint--every time she moves it affects the area). She didn't get too much out...a few mm, but it still bled lightly. I had to cut off the knot so she couldn't get her teeth around it (I'm pretty sure thats how she was pulling at it). There is still a part of the stitch sticking out of her skin. I cleaned it off again and applied a bit of pressure with a paper towel to stop the bleeding (it wasn't bleeding bad). I got the bleeding to stop after a few mins and everything seemed OK. So, now I'm not sure what to do. I've still been cleaning the incision in the mornings and when i get home from work at night and it bubbles a little (or whatever hydrogen peroxide does when it's killing germs). It isn't pussing, isn't yellow/green, doesn't have a smell, and hasn't bled since she first pulled out part of the stitches. The spot where she started pulling the stitches out has started to scab too, and the incision isn't opened. If I touch the area or anything she doesn't seem to mind it, but after applying some hydrogen peroxide she gets a little squeemish and tries to lick the area (I quickly dab the bubbled peroxide off and keep her from messing with it and she's fine after a second. I also keep applying peroxide until it stops bubbling--usually after 2 cleanings back to back). Should I keep worrying that this will get worse? Or do you think it will continue to heal on it's own? One of my concerns is the part of the stitch that is still poking out of her skin; even though the area around that looks fine (aside from a small stitch poking out-but its still healed around it-not even a scab on/around it). My other concern is the part she pulled the stitches out that's now scabbing. Will this get infected or not finish healing properly? Or will the skin be able to heal around the stitch? Sorry if I repeated myself or got confusing. I tried to give as much detail as I could. Thank you!

Answer
Hi Carolyn,
You need to leave the incision alone, and stop putting hydrogen peroxide on it. It isn't necessary (your vet was wrong) and all it does is irritate it so she wants to pick at it. It will probably heal fine if you just leave it alone. It is very rare for an incision to get infected in rats.  Her body will have to either absorb or expel the sutures. You can cut off the part that is sticking out if you want to.
Deb

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Debbie Ducommun

Expertise

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 www.ratfanclub.org/helpfinfo.html. 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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

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

Education/Credentials
BA in Animal Behavior

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