Pet Rats/rat stroke

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Question
"My rat is 17 month old male. He had sneezes when younger and had a course of baytril.  About 6 weeks ago he started sneezing again and I noticed a lump on his tummy. I took him to the vets and was given baytril to help both. His sneezes went away and lump got no bigger. 3 week after he had a stroke. I took him to the vets they said there was nothing they could do. To wait to see if he got better or worse. For nearly 2 weeks now he's been recovering. He's very sleepy and I feed him liquid foods and wash him down. My question is can I get anything to get him through this..my vet said I could give him a steroid but it has side effects so I'm worried. How long does it take for recovery of this sort. Thank you."

Answer
Hi Kalie,
I'm sorry to hear your rat had a stroke. It sounds like you are doing a good job nursing him through his recovery. Has there been steady improvement?  It can take several weeks for a rat to recover from a stroke. There really isn't any medication that can help him at this point. It just takes time for the brain to heal. A steroid can sometimes help in the beginning if there is swelling in the brain, but at this point, a steroid would just interfere with healing.

The best supplement for rats who aren’t eating well or who are losing weight is powdered soy infant formula from the grocery store.  (The liquid form goes bad too fast.)  The brand doesn’t matter because they’re all about the same (Wal-mart's store brand is cheapest).  They contain pretty much all the nutrients a baby needs, and they are 50% fat, so they help put the weight back on them fast.

Mix the powder with water,  juice or even Ensure.  You can mix it as thick or as thin as you need to.  Thick encourages intake of nutrients and can be fed off your finger, thin encourages intake of fluids.  Most rats love it and will lick it out of a little dish. You can also give it with an eyedropper or syringe. You can also soak or mix ground rat blocks in it.

The infant formula is nearly a complete diet for rats. The only nutrients the formula is short on for rats is the B vitamins.  When giving the formula longterm, add enough liquid vitamin B complex supplement to supply 1 mcg of B12 to each scoop of formula, or you can add ¼ Tablespoon of nutritional yeast (available at health food stores) per scoop of powder.  If your rat doesn’t like it, try adding a tiny drop of vanilla extract or other flavoring.  If that doesn’t work, try adding some whipped cream or ice cream.

If the formula is pretty much all your rat is eating, give one scoop of the powder in the morning and another scoop at night.  One scoop a day is enough if the rat is eating other foods.

I highly recommend my Rat Health Care booklet which includes this and a lot more helpful info.  You can find more info about the booklet on my website at www.ratfanclub.org on the Books page.
Deb

Pet Rats

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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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