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Soft food for rat struggling to eat

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 12:58 pm
by Onthewires
I just wanted some advice on what the best thing to feed a rat who is struggling to eat dry food. My girl Rita is currently being treated with antibiotics for a possible infection which is causing pt like symptoms. She has a head tilt etc, and although treatment is a bit hit and miss, she's losing weight quite rapidly and even though she's got an appetite, I don't think she's able to eat her dry mix. I've been occasionally trying to feed her soft foods, but I want to start feeding her soft meals daily to see if her weight improves, and want to make sure she's getting what she needs nutrition wise. I've tried porridge etc, but I'm not sure of this is particularly nutritious for her and I think even this is a bit of a struggle for her to eat.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm not overly optimistic considering how quickly she's deteriorating,but I want to make sure I'm doing all I can to help her recovery.

Re: Soft food for rat struggling to eat

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:44 pm
by Caza66
You can get soft mash options from rat rations. I have also used mash potato with veg mixed in, weetabix and coconut milk, complan type mixes, Nairns biscuits with coconut milk, baby food. I'm sure somebody else can offer other options. Hope Rita feels better soon.

Re: Soft food for rat struggling to eat

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:47 pm
by Onthewires
Thanks a lot for your reply :) I'm going to try soaking some of the selective I have, and maybe try potato etc. I just wanted to make sure that she's getting enough fibre/protein. Is there anything in particular that might be good for weight gain? Or do I just need to try and include lots of carbs?

Re: Soft food for rat struggling to eat

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:38 pm
by Caza66
I also mash avacado up, which is high in 'good' fat.

Re: Soft food for rat struggling to eat

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:21 pm
by [cub]
Fat is really good for weight gain in a rat that isn't eating much, since it's got twice as many calories per gram as carbs or protein. Like Caza said, avocado and coconut milk are both great (tasty and high in fat), or if you haven't got any in stock you could drizzle some oil into whatever wet food you give her, like soaked Science Selective. That may make it more tempting to eat as well.

If she's struggling to eat, I wouldn't worry about getting the nutritional balance right, especially given that she's been losing weight. Just focus on getting calories (any calories) into her. Obviously a balanced diet is better than an unbalanced one, but an unbalanced diet is better than too little food.

Re: Soft food for rat struggling to eat

Posted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 9:11 am
by acapae_wolf
Cooked carbs mixed with oil is definitely the way to go.
Here are some other ideas of foods to make that fit this:
acapae_wolf in wrote:Right, in that situation where you've not as yet made any real change towards an oldie diet (good because the longer it is till you have to, the better they're ageing), my first step is to feed cooked carbs mixed with oil. This provides longer term energy (rather than a sugar spike), is low in protein so good for kidneys, and is usually appealing to eat. As an addition to a good diet, you're looking at getting her to eat about a heaped teaspoon daily in order to maintain weight. In order to put weight on, I would be looking to feed her these extras in the early evening i.e. before you put the veg in :)

Examples of cooked carbs+oil would be things like:
mashed potato + veggie oil (can be normal potatoes, sweet, mix of both, additional root veggies like swede etc.)
soaked bread + coconut (I tend to melt a lump of coconut in a mug with hot water, stir it up, and pour over the bread)
cooked couscous + avocado
cooked rice + linseed oil
soaked+cooked beans + omega oil
Also if you're due a RR order anytime soon their oldies soakable mix is another option of a carby base for this - I would advise the one without garlic as a plainer base is more easy to vary the flavour of to add variety to a limited diet.
Mix-and-match between the carbs and oil type to see what works and to keep up variety :)

Many older rats whose whiskers are starting to droop prefer to eat their extras from a small plate or a spoon rather than a bowl. You can also warm it up (microwave or add some hot liquid) to make it more appealing and get her to eat more at each sitting.
The above combination is also really easy to lace with supplements, or add Complan or dried baby food to so as to add fortified powders and varying the flavour too.
If/ when she gets to the point of only minimally eating her dry mix, then building on the carbs+oil to be more rounded in terms of protein is also pretty easy.
Rather than trying to get her to gain weight as one giant step, it's a better idea to make that into two smaller steps:

1st step: get her weight to plateau so that she is no longer actively losing weight.
2nd step: try and increase her weight.

For the first step where you're trying to get things to stabilise then cub's point of the overall health of the food not mattering is key. Any energy is better than no energy, no matter how 'healthy' it would be regarded to a healthy rat. In this situation even if it's endless chocolate cake, while you're trying to stop her weight plummeting it's still better for her to be eating that than not.

However once her weight has plateaued/ stabilised for a few days, then that is the point at which you start to slowly increase more diversity to ensure that she is getting a balanced diet. If she didn't have an appetite then high protein foods can be very tempting to eat as one of the foods to use in step 1, but as she has an appetite and it's just about her weight then this isn't a great idea as it doesn't actually fill them up for very long comparatively. So just leave thoughts of that to step 2 rather than worrying about it now :)

Re: Soft food for rat struggling to eat

Posted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 5:50 pm
by Onthewires
Thanks so much for your replies! I'm definitely going to try some of the above suggestions as the selective, oats, potato etc mix I've been feeding definitely doesn't look appetizing! She still has an appetite though and I'm currently feeding her two meals a day when she has her antibiotics, fingers crossed I see some improvement soon..