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 Post subject: New-ish Rats Still Sneezing
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:26 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:21 pm
Posts: 1
Hi All,

I'm new to the forum, and rat ownership, and unfortunately my first post is about health! Be warned I may waffle to try and get all the information in! :lol:

I got my 2 new girls Eddie & Patsy the first weekend of December, from the adoption section at Pets at Home and were told they were roughly about 6 months but they really didn't know how old they were. Not long after we got them they started the new house sneezes which I was aware of. I gave them a few weeks to settle in but still the sneezes continued so, as the sneezes were quite wet sounding and bits of porphyrin were splattered in places about the cage (and bits on the walls near the cage), so I took them off to the vets.

Vet said their chests were clear but prescribed a course of Baytril as the red splatters were not normal. They finished the Baytril and, although better, the sneezes hadn't totally gone but the little red splatters had decreased. Rang the vets and they gave another week (?) of Baytril. They finished that but I still wasn't happy and wanted to make sure they were both fighting fit. Back to the vets again! Again told the red splatters were not normal but their chests and weight was fine and was given a course of Sulfatrim (which they hated!). They finished the Sulfatrim and I still wasn't happy so another vet prescribed Doxycycline. This definitely worked the best. The sneezes decreased the most on this and the cage splatter spots in the cage were non existent.

(Told you I'd waffle on! :lol: )

Anyway, they've been off the doxy for just over 2 weeks but the wet sneezes and few splatter spots in the cage are back. They are both still acting normal - eating, drinking, playing etc., not showing signs of feeling poorly, and I don't hear any chest wheezes or breathing noises but have seen a small amount of the red splats in their cage again. I know that some porphyrin excretion is normal but should they be sneezing it in small amounts? The vets I've seen say not (but none of them have really filled me with confidence on their rat knowledge tbh), but on the other hand I have also been told a little bit is normal. It is not crusting around their eyes or nose. They occasionally have a little bit on their noses after being asleep but that goes after they wash.

I have them booked in at the vets again tomorrow but am just looking for some advice from any of you knowledgeable lot first. I don't want to medicate them unnecessarily if this is normal but at the same I don't want to leave them if there is something wrong. I'm also worried that they're stressed and don't like us or something which is causing the sneezing (I know they don't hate us, they will quite happily interact with us. I just want to be a good rat mum!). I would also be interested in knowing if there is anything apart from medicating them that I can do to help them.

(Some other info - we use the Back 2 Nature litter, they are fed on the Pets at Home rat nuggets and veg)

 Post subject: Re: New-ish Rats Still Sneezing
 Post Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:04 pm
Posts: 606
I'd say a bit of porphyrin staining around the cage is normal. Given that porphyrin is produced in their nose as well as their eyes, and everybody sneezes from time to time, anything that's in their nose is going to get sneezed out, so you're going to get some porphyrin splattering. It's only when the sneezing or porphyrin is excessive that there's a problem; how much is "excessive" is hard to say unfortunately. If it's only occasional sneezing, there's not porphyrin everywhere, they're not wheezing/rattling, then they're probably fine.

Some rats are especially prone to upper respiratory issues and will be a little sneezy and sniffly all their life. I've got a couple of rats like this, both of them rescues (descendants of mis-sexed PAH rats :roll: ) and I've decided to only medicate them when it sounds like the respiratory issues are starting to get out of hand. If it's just the occasional sneeze, snuffle, or rattle, I leave them be, and only treat if the symptoms are getting worse. Otherwise they would have been on antibiotics their entire life, which would probably have done more harm than good in the long run.

What dosages of the various medications were they prescribed? It is unfortunately not uncommon for vets to underdose medications in rats. For a mycoplasma flare-up, which is what this is most likely to be, a combination of antibiotics is often recommended: 10mg/kg Baytril twice daily, and 5mg/kg doxycycline twice daily, for two weeks.

Bedding and hay are common triggers of respiratory symptoms. Some beddings/hays are generally dustier than others and more likely to be culprits, but reactions are also rather individual. (Aubiose and Readigrass both set me off but my rats were fine, including the sneezy ones.) Back 2 Nature is generally very well-tolerated, but it's possible (though unlikely) that your rats find it irritatingl. It is however expensive if you're using it as a general substrate and not just in the litter trays; I'd recommend a cheaper substrate that you can buy in bulk for the main cage tray, such as chopped cardboard.

PAH nuggets are generally considered poor quality, and quite boring to eat as well. I'd recommend heading over to the Rat Rations website, where there are a variety of much better quality and much more varied diets available:
If you go with a Rat Rations mix, you'll need to add a bit of vitamin and mineral supplementation yourself (commercial mixes have it sprayed on already). I like DailyRat3 as it's most economical, and if you're feeding fresh veg you can stir it in to that:
They also sell substrates, which can help spread the cost of the postage:

Poo-shoveller to: Zephyr Delanynder, Lia, and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Falere the contrary NLA36, Mirala the best and finest NLA36, Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
Avatar by Ursula Vernon.

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