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Pet Rats/Rat chronic respiratory issues


Hello, I have a 27 month old female rat that has had respiratory issues for a while, i have been to the vet a lot to get her medications, we have tried baytril/doxy, baytril/prednisone, baytril alone, and chloramphenicol.  she responds to everything but the chloramphenicol, but they dont clear her symptoms and she goes back to being sick after the antibiotics are stoped....( she is usually on the antibiotics for about two weeks), the vet is worried about resistence now and i am not sure what else to do.  
symptoms: lots of sneezing (sometimes chain sneezing, and she throws mucus as she sneezes or flings her head), hiccups that sound like coughs, wheezing esp. when sleeping (sometimes sounds like a whimpering puppy), dry skin, chronic porphyrin around one eye, a catch in her breathing (maybe mucus in airway), she sounds very mucusy in general though in her breathing, some labored breathing as well, she is not as active as she one was maybe a couple months ago.
She still eats and drinks ok, and most of the time still waits by the door of the cage to be social :)

The vet doesn't seem to know exactly what to do, so I thought I would ask you.  She has been quarantined from the other rats for a while so I worry that she may be lonely as well, she is such an awesome rattie and I would love to figure out how to help her.  

Please help, thanks.

Hi Cara,
You need to keep her on the antibiotics the rest of her life. This does not cause resistance. What can cause resistance is only keeping them on the antibiotics a short time, and then stopping, which can allow the bacteria time to regroup. There is no harm to keeping rats on antibiotics long term. I put my older rats on doxycycline for the rest of their life to help keep the myco under control. She does not need to be separated from the other rats either. Go ahead and put her back in with them.

Since these treatments do not clear up her symptoms completely, you need to try other medications as well. It's likely that she has congestive heart failure and would benefit from the medications I recommend in the article called Respiratory and Heart Disease on my website at on the Rat Info page. I suggest you either print that out and take it to your vet, or email him or her the link. I also highly recommend my Rat Health Care booklet, which you can read about on the Books page of my website.

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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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