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Is Your Pet Rat Sneezing? The Facts You Should Know
Being a “rattie parent” can be worrying when your little ones do things like sneeze. My goal with this article is to clear up your confusion, so you will feel better and your rat will be okay.
Below are things that can cause your rat to sneeze:
This very common and incurable respiratory disease among rats can occur throughout the rat’s lifetime. Symptoms include sneezing, wheezing and, in advanced cases, gasping for air. Ulcers can sometimes develop on the lung tissue, making it difficult for the rat to breathe. While people can catch mycoplasma from other people, we can’t catch it from rats, and vice versa.
But there is good news. As long as their immune system is not compromised, most rats with mycoplasma can live long and active lives, despite outward symptoms. The key is to feed them a diet rich in vitamins (especially vitamins A and E) and take extra precautions to avoid exposing them to dust, smoke, drafts and bacteria.
If your pet rat has “Myco flare-ups”, it may need to be treated with medications such as Vibramycin, brand name Doxycycline or the generic brand, Baytril. These drugs will suppress the symptoms and prevent the development of scar tissue in the lungs.
The main difference between mycoplasmia and pneumonia is that the former produces symptoms of dry, loud breath that will come and go, while the latter manifests itself as wet, congested, hoarse breath and a runny nose. Porphyrin can be excreted in the rat’s nasal passages and fluid can collect in its lungs. Infected babies may not show any symptoms until months later.
Pneumonia is highly contagious to any other rat within sneezing distance, so you should immediately quarantine the afflicted rat until you can take it to a veterinarian.
A treatment of pneumonia involves the drugs Baytril, Doxycycline, and a machine called a nebulizer. The drug is administered in the form of a vapor several times a day.
colds or allergies
In the event that you need to take your pup to the vet to be treated for a respiratory illness, you may decide to administer a small amount of over-the-counter cold or allergy medicine.
Also, if your vet approves of the idea, you can try treating your rat this way on your own for several days. However, you need to be careful about doing this because you don’t want to use something that can cause more harm than good. Also, if his condition worsens, take him to a vet right away.
Here are some general guidelines:
- Use liquid medicine for children, not adult formula.
- Administer the medication as often as you would a child; however, make them very small doses (0.10 cc. for an adult, and less than half that for a baby).
- Use cough decongestants or expectorants, not suppressants.
- Avoid formulas that contain alcohol.
How to minimize respiratory diseases and symptoms, in general:
- Keep the air moist. Debate the drying effects of heating and air conditioning by adding small water fountains, plants and even water jugs to the room.
- Humidifiers and vaporizers work well to keep the air moist; but avoid keeping them too close to your rat’s cage (at least 4 feet away).
- In an emergency, you can take your rat to a closed bathroom with a hot shower running. Do not take it too close to the water. Just let him breathe the steam for 5-15 minutes. It helps loosen the mucus stuck inside the lungs.
- Make sure your rattie has good bedding.
- Sudden sneezing may be due to an allergic reaction to a change in bedding, food, soap, or in the general environment.
- A small block of baker’s chocolate is known to cool and relieve symptoms of respiratory distress.
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