Whats wrong with my fur baby?
My new fur baby is sneezing should I be worried?
If you have just bought the rat and it was in perfect health when you bought it and then you get it home and it starts to show signs of being sick, keep an eye on it but don’t stress yet! Some rats take time to adjust to new environments, things like different weather, pets, cleaning agents, position of cage, travel etc can cause the rat to be a little stressed/scared which can make them appear to be sick. If the rat starts to get worse (sneezing constantly, trouble breathing) over the next week contact the breeder if you bought it from a breeder and they may have some advice or other options (each breeder has different ways of handling this type of thing), if the rat is getting worse real fast don’t wait. Get it to a vet.
Why is my fur baby sick?
When a rat is very sick I recommend you take it to the vet straight away to receive treatment, but i don’t agree with taking then to the vet just because they sneeze. Like us they to need to build their immune systems.
Some amount of sneezing is fairly normal for pet rats, especially in winter, so if it’s not severe it may not be cause for alarm.
If it is more the just sneezing, things like; sniffling, occasional squinting, rough hair coat, porphyrin staining around the eyes and nose, head tilt (wry neck) rolling constantly, lethargy, hunched posture, chattering, weight loss and laboured breathing, then it is probably Mycoplasma pulmonis (commonly known/referred to as “myco”) Myco is an organism that almost all rats in the general pet population carry, it is the cause of the majority of respiratory infections in rats. The organism is carried in the upper respiratory system and is transmitted by direct contact between mother and babies, through the air over short distances. Stress or other illnesses can weaken your rat’s immune system and cause your rat to break with an active mycoplasmal infection. If left untreated, this can lead to pneumonia. It is important to make sure you keep your cage/s clean and be careful with what you put in the cage or around the cage, not spraying air fresheners or perfumes around the cage etc. It is also very important not to expose your pet to other rats who may be sick since a secondary bacterial or viral infection could allow the mycoplasmal infection to accelerate to pneumonia very quickly, and if its not treated quickly it can result in death.
Treatment is usually pretty easy but can be costly depending on how sick they are, so it is a good idea to do research and find out when it is best to leave them be and see what happens and when to rush to the vet and get them treatment.
There are some things you can try at home first before going to the vet, I always have Tetracycline and Vitamins on hand. I always fine if a rat is going to get sick they usually get sick on a public holiday…. so having things on hand till you can get to a vet or to prevent going to the vet I think is the best idea. You can also use things like Benadryl or Bisolvin. Most people dose from 0.02 ml to 0.2 ml depending on the size of the rat. Forums and web pages are a great way of getting a better idea on the best dose. Ventolin (the stuff in an asthma puffer) can also help open airways so I’m told… I haven’t used this method so I’m not sure on how to administer but once again forums and web pages are a great way to find out about it. Small amounts of Dark chocolate will also help.