Pet Rats/Luna


Hello Debbie
I would just like your opinion on something please. The use of dexamethasone in rats. Unfortunately Luna has taken a turn for the worse again and our only option for her sake to help her to breath was to give her dexamethasone we are due to have her third injection today. She is now on a combination of Batril 7.50mg twice a day and Ronaxan (doxycycline) 2.5mg twice a day. The dexamethasone injections have helped her tremendously but I know there could be detrimental affects on the immune system so I am rather concerned about using it long term. At the moment I feel she would have to be put to sleep without it. If we had to use something long term my vet suggested Prednisolone please could you advise this is the last resort now.

Hi Karen,
I agree with your vet that you want to use prednisolone or prednisone for long-term use. Dexamethasone should be used only for an emergency as it is much stronger. I have found that giving prednisone at a dose of 1 mg/lb twice a day long-term can be very helpful for older rats with chronic respiratory problems. As long as the rat is also on an antibiotic, you do not need to worry about the side effect of suppressing the immune system.

You'll find other medications that can help listed in the Respiratory and Heart Disease article on my website at on the Rat Info 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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