Poorly old man - need help!

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Poorly old man - need help!

Post by Remy » Mon May 09, 2016 4:41 pm

I have a male rat who is basically 2 years and a half. He is an old man now, I took him to the vets because he has become lethargic, his back legs are weak, he is dribbling more often than not, he is struggling to get comfortable, is losing weight.
He was a big boy at 700g and now is 600g.

I went to the vet, assuming that it may have been a stroke of some kind because of his age. The vet just said he has pain in his left leg because he huffed when being prodded by the vet, his teeth are slightly over grown but is too old for them to do surgery (which I would not want any way). All he was willing to give him is pain medication and basically said he may have to be put down as he is coming to his end.

Thing is, I don't give up that easily and would prefer to make him as happy and comfortable as possible. He still wants to keep going, eating especially the foods he loves he just struggles eating because he has weakness in his back legs.

I am thinking of getting another opinion? This guy is not my usual vet, the exotic vet I usually see apparently out working and they never know when she will be at the vets. (Turns out she is doing home visits and this would be my second opinion). He claims he specialises in rats but he just seemed to want to push ending his life asap.

Basically should I get a second opinion?
Does it sound like a stroke?
He lays down a lot, walks with his stomach on the floor, I clean him now and help him eat. Apart from that he tries, waddling up to the cage when I come home, grinding his teeth when we hug.

Thank you :)

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Re: Poorly old man - need help!

Post by squeakrat » Mon May 09, 2016 10:57 pm

It doesn't sound like a stroke to me.

First of all, hind leg degeneration (HLD) is common in older rats, so he's probably suffering from this. But it's also possible that he's got a urinary tract infection, as you've seen some recent changes in him. This could make him more uncomfortable, so you'd see him walking differently (tummy to the floor which you mentioned). The vet should be able to do a urine test to check for this, and treat with antibiotics if there is an infection.

It's also possible that it's just progression of HLD which is causing him more problems. You could try pain meds to see if this helps him at all.

Secondly it sounds like he's having problems eating. If the vet doesn't think it's worth the risk of an anaesthetic to clip them, you'll just have to keep an eye on them to check how overgrown they are getting. He'll need soft foods to help him eat, and probably also some higher calorie stuff if he's been losing weight (although some of this is probably muscle mass from his back legs).

Although it does often eventually come down to a quality of life decision which needs to be made for older rats, it doesn't sound like you're quite there yet with him - there are a few things you can try to see if it helps him at all :luck:
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Re: Poorly old man - need help!

Post by Jemma » Tue May 10, 2016 12:23 pm

The other thing to think about is kidney degeneration too, its likely to some degree in old rats but would account for a lot of the weight loss. It can also be linked with HLD.

A second opinion is a good idea, but I'd also recommend getting some urine multireagent test strips (sold for humans or from the rat warehouse). You want ones that cover protein, blood and glucose at minimum and they are very handy to have in. Blood can pick up trace amounts of blood not visible to the naked eye and suggests something bladder related (normally UTI but can be something else). Over trace levels of protein in a proper wee (rather than marking) when he's not recently had high protein food indicates kidney issues. Glucose indicates diabetes which I doubt is an issue here.

Id also recommend having a read of this bit of my website http://www.isamurats.co.uk/feeding-for- ... -life.html, in particular the old age section and HLD / Kidney section. At some point I will get my article about cage set up for oldies on there too.

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