Continuous use of antibiotics for rats

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Continuous use of antibiotics for rats

Post by Bumblebee25 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:28 am

Hello, my name is Laura. I'm new to this group and to having rats! I have two 7 month old does called Rayna and Juilette which I got off a lady who had rescued a doe (who was unexpected pregnant) from poor living conditions.

I have really loved having the rats and care for them very much.

My question really relates to the use of antibiotics in rats, I was wondering what people's experiences are with using antibiotics for respiratory problems. For a while now Rayna and Juilette have had some respiratory problems - sneezing. I have also noticed them producing the red pigment from their eyes and nose. They have had 2 courses of Baytril for this one a 10 day course and the other a 20 day course.

Things seemed to have been resolved until last night when I noticed them sneezing again quite a lot. Has anyone else had a similar experience to this? In that several courses of antibiotics are needed? Both Rayna and Juilette are fine in themselves; eating, running around, playing together.

Could anyone give me any advice on what I should do next? I'd really appreciate it as am worried about them!

Many thanks,

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Re: Continuous use of antibiotics for rats

Post by [cub] » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:30 am

Aside from lab rats, which are usually bred and kept in unnaturally sterile conditions, all rats carry bacteria in their respiratory tract. These bacteria are usually kept under control by the rat's own immune system, but they can sometimes get out of control, causing the rat to become symptomatic. Antibiotics can help bring these bacteria back down to manageable levels, but generally cannot completely eliminate them; for example, Mycoplasma pulmonis is a major cause of respiratory illness in rats, and once a rat has acquired myco it's impossible to get rid of. So it's pretty unsurprising if a rat who's had one respiratory flare-up has another.

What would give me pause is if a flare-up comes back almost immediately after a rat has had a successful course of antibiotics: that would suggest that the antibiotic course didn't kill enough bacteria to bring the colonies back down to a manageable level for the rat. If that's the case, I would consider a different treatment regimen for next time: in your case I'd suggest checking that the dosage of Baytril was sufficiently high (it should be 10mg/kg twice daily, so that's 0.4mL/kg of rat twice daily if it's the 2.5% solution). I'd also consider adding doxycycline to the treatment regimen next time (at 5mg/kg twice daily). That particular combination at those particular doses are recommended for mycoplasmal infections in Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult, Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook, and Carpenter's Exotic Animal Formulary, should you need to argue it with your vet.

Also, if your vet by any chance told you to put the Baytril in their water to dose them, don't do that next time since it leads to very unpredictable dosing, generally low plasma concentrations of the drug possibly/probably leading to insufficiently high bacterial kill rates (I'm just guessing here, I'm not actually a pharmacologist), and also potentially dehydration.

I would also consider whether antibiotic treatment is strictly needed. I had one rat who was prone to respiratory issues, and was a bit sneezy and sniffly all her life. I settled on only treating her when her symptoms really flared up: if she was sneezing/wheezing frequently for more than a few days at a time, or if she looked a little under the weather and like she couldn't handle it on her own. Otherwise, for intermittent, mild, or brief symptom flare-ups, I monitored closely but otherwise left her to it. I reckoned it gave her immune system something to do, and meant we weren't contributing to antibiotic over-use. Continuous antibiotic use is a treatment methodology I have come across, usually involving cycling between different antibiotics since you don't want to stay on the same one for too long (as that leads more quickly to bacterial resistance), but I strongly suspect it's something you want to avoid as much as possible since it will eventually lead to bacterial resistance, and in the meanwhile will be killing off quite a lot of beneficial microbes at the same time.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn, Din, and Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth).
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix) the big dope, Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

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Re: Continuous use of antibiotics for rats

Post by Bumblebee25 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:37 pm

Thank you very much for responding to my post!

I took them to the vets today and they've prescribed some anti-inflammatorys for Rayna and Juilette, this vet previously prescribed the Baytril (I gave them BD doses via syringe, so no worries on the water front). He suggested it could be their bedding or some other irritation which is causing the flare ups of sneezing, I'll be giving them the anti-inflammatorys for a week and going back to the vets next Monday to see how they are.

The thing is each time they go to the vets and the vet has a check of their lungs they can never hear any crackles so whatever it is seems to be affecting just the upper respiratory tract. I'm wondering if the flare up of sneezing occurred because I had cleaned the cage out, I use finacard and the back to nature paper pellets for their bedding as I read that these were good manufacturers to go for in terms of lower levels of dust.

Thanks for the tips on the antibiotics, the vet mentioned the use of another abx but used the 'brand' name so am not whether it was a doxycycline. But if they need to have further treatment I will ask about them :)

You're definitely right and I think I should do something similar as you did for your lady. I'll keep an eye on them and see how they are, if they seem poorlier or not right in themselves I'll be seeking medical treatment. As it is both Rayna and Juilette don't seem as sneezy as last week so we'll see how they go. Perhaps they are prone to sneezes and snuffles as yours was. But yes, I do want to avoid constant medicines and abx.

The only worry I have is that Juilette had a funny turn a few months ago. I thought at first that she was gagging as they'd both just had some food. She was hunched up, had her eyes closed, irregular breathing and every now and again she'd open her mouth wide. But she didn't have some of the other signs of gagging such as drooling and putting her hands to her mouth so I didn't know whether it was gagging or some kind of respiratory exacerbation. Either way that precipitated the first visit to the vet. It came on so suddenly I'm worried it might occur again.

Thank you so much for the advice and your time in writing the post - it is much appreciated! :)

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