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Pet Rats/Kindly help with Labored Breathing


QUESTION: Hello Madam

I am from a small town in India and here there are NO VET for EXOTIC PETS available. Only vets for dogs and cats are readily available

I have a male white rat who is 2 and a half years old and his name is MASTI.

Around 15 days back, he got panic attack / respiratory attack for around 10 minutes. At the time of attack he was lying HORIZONTALLY on the ground and breathing heavily.

I gave him CIPROFLOXACIN (ENROFLOXACIN / Baytril not available here) and DOXYCYCLINE as per the dosages mentioned on RATGUIDE. I mixed these medicines with Baby Food (CERELAC) and gave it to him continuously for 2 weeks. During these 2 weeks, he never had any attacks and was behaving normally.

5 Days back, he again started getting panic / respiratory attacks and this time these attacks were continuous. He was laying flat all the time and don't want to eat / drink.

I assumed that the anti-biotics are not working and took him to a VET (Not exotic). He said, water is accumulating in MASTI's Abdomen, because of which he's feeling UNEASY all the time.

He also gave me 2 medicines for allergies viz. Betnesol (Betamethasone soluble tablets) and AVIL (Pheniramine maleate) - As far as I can understand, these 2 medicines are not present in the RMCA Drug Chart for rats

Instead of giving MASTI above 2 prescribed medicines, I gave him 0.2 ml of LASIX for 2 days. He was urinating a lot and was not feeling well for these 2 days, but suddenly from yesterday he's feeling absolutely fine! NO Panic or Respiratory Attacks. His stomach sides are looking normal and he looks quite good.

He's now showing enthusiasm for food and water. I am giving him milk, sprouted beans, flour dough and I also gave him small amount of Glucose.

Ocassionally he show signs of minor labored breathing, but goes to sleep ASAP.

I am not sure, but I think LASIX worked.

But, what I have to do next? I am not even trying any other heart medicines like ENALPRIL, DIGOXIN etc. because I seriously don't know anything about them.

Overall, what I am doing is experimentation, but I don't have any other option. I even talked to the vet for euthanasia and he said he use IC. That's all. How he's going to do it?, no information on this!

If you can help me, I will be very grateful towards you. If I have done something wrong, I do apologize and please correct me.

Thanks and Regards

ANSWER: Lasix is commonly used for congestive heart failure, renal disease (when kidneys are not working properly) and hypertension...all in humans.  It works the same in rats too.  But it does sound as though the Lasix worked for your rat's respiratory issues, at least this time. If your rat has another respiratory flare up, you can use the Lasix again.  But be aware that the Lasix can interact with other drugs.  You should refer to the Ratguide for drug interactions and indications.

There is a good chance that your rat has heart disease along with lung disease, which is not uncommon.

Regarding euthanasia, it is VERY VERY important that you ask the vet EXACTLY how he will put your rat to sleep using the intra cardiac stick.  The cardiac stick MUST NEVER be used alone.  The rat MUST be put under anesthesia first and be totally immune to ANY stiumuli, using the toe pinch method to check if he is asleep.  If this is not done first, the cardiac stick alone will cause extreme pain to the rat and this is not acceptable and considered an inhumane way to perform euthanasia.

Good luck with your boy and please let me know if I can answer any other questions.

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

QUESTION: Hello Madam,

Thanks a lot for your reply

I think he's suffering from Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

* Yesterday only, the condition of MASTI MOUSE was like this (The Video is of Late DON MOUSE):

* Today, this is the condition of MASTI MOUSE:

Yesterday, he was at the brink of natural death (I can assure you this, believe me). I called many people for EUTHANASIA, but NO ONE was ready to do so! They again started suggesting me random medicines as usual.

I don't know WHY? But I gave him ENALAPRIL (0.4 ml of 2.5 mg tablet) twice (10 to 12 hours GAP)

He showed some improvement and was quite stable yesterday.

Today, I again give him ENALAPRIL and you can see the improvements in the video posted above. He's roaming here and there and DEMANDING FOOD, like he did before the illness.

I am not sure, but I seriously don't think he's having any respiratory problem. He was on CIRPO and DOXY for more than 2 weeks, but he didn't show any improvements. His conditions was getting worse and worse everyday.

Right now, he's having following troubles:

1. Minor Labored Breathing (as you can see in the above video)

2. As soon as he eat some food, I think he experience PAIN. He lies horizontally on the ground and starts breathing heavily for 10-15 minutes. Then he cleans himself and goes to sleep with his EYES wide open

3. I think the disease has damaged one of his eyes. You can see a WHITE FILM / LAYER in the Video too. Yesterday, the same eye was VERY VERY white, but after giving him ENALAPRIL, that VERY WHITE Layer went away.

4. He tires very quickly and breathes funny, just like we start breathing after playing some outdoor game.

5. He occasionally grinds his teeth very hard for 2-3 minutes

Can you please suggest me what I have to do next? I am not even touching ATENOLOL and DIGOXIN, as I seriously don't know what these medicines does PRACTICALLY?!

If you need more information, please ask me.


Hello.  First I apologize for the delay in responding to you as I had to do some research regarding the medications you mentioned (I am not medically trained.  I hope that your rattie is still doing ok and hanging in there.

Since you don't have access to a vet, I would suggest that your next step is to give the ATENOLOL. You are correct to not want to use DIGOXIN. This medication should NEVER be used on your rat unless he has been diagnosed by a vet first.  It could kill him.  

The white film over his eye could definitely be caused by the condition he has.  It may be a cataract.  He may be blind in that eye or both.  I just can't say for certain.  Unfortunately, your rat sounds gravely ill.  Is he is cyanotic?  You seems to be fairly well educated about medicines in general.  Can you tell me where you get your medications since you don't have an exotic vet?

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Irene Murphy


I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.


I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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