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Pet Rats/Very sick rat


Our rat, Pickles is about 2 years 3 months and in the last couple of days he is really sick. His symptoms are lethargy, won't drink on his own, didn't eat yesterday but ate a treat today, has a slight discharge from his nose looks bloody but read up respitory infections and sounds like the discharge from that. I use therapeutic essential oils and have been giving him several that are for infections and boosting his immunity. He has been drinking some honey water along with doxycycline dosed for his body size. I have a diffuser that is blowing an oil for easier breathing and antibiotic properties. So my question is, do I keep it up or just let him pass as this is prolonging his discomfort? If i should keep it up as this will make him better, can  or should i make a homemade lactate ringer to inject for his dehydration? If so do you have any idea how to make an injectable solution for this?

Dear Melody,

Poor Pickles needs to go to the vet as an emergency. I would not try to treat him at home any longer.

Debbie is on vacation, but her site has a ton of information on it to help you treat at home. This question is well out of my own expertise.

When you get to the site, click on "info" on the upper left. Health care topics are toward the bottom of the index.

I am concerned about the use of essential oils or anything else for a rat to breathe, that a rat expert or vet hasn't approved. Their respiratory passages are extremely delicate, and can't take everything that humans can.

When deciding when to put an animal to sleep, you need to ask yourself daily "If I asked Pickles, would he say he was glad to be alive today?" If the answer is no, it is time to say good bye. You definitely cannot let him die a prolonged and painful death. That would be cruel.

If you don't want to go to the vet to have him put to sleep, Debbie does cover a home method of euthanasia. You should know that it sometimes fails; and some people report that it may hurt the rats' nasal passages. I don't like the idea of home euthanasia because of what can go wrong, but if going to the vet is impossible, and you have the fortitude for it, you can try it.

My best recommendation is to go to the vet ASAP as an emergency, and the vet will be able to discuss with you whether it makes sense to put him down then, or continue treatment.

I am so sorry for poor Pickles. I hope he has a speedy recovery or a gentle journey.



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Natasha Millikan


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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.

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