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 Post subject: More Prominent Spine in 19 Month Old Buck
 Post Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:18 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Scotland, UK
Hi guys,

So Sylvester and Murphy are getting older now, and are roughly 19 months at this point. These guys are my first rats, so I'm not sure if this is just an age thing or if I'm right to be concerned.

Lately I've noticed that Sylvester seems a lot more, well, bonier than usual, particularly his spine? However he's still the same weight and I wouldn't say he's skinny.
He also seems to be less confident climbing and jumping than he used to be - e.g. he used to climb down the arm of the sofa, now he slides down. He can still jump if he needs to, he just chooses not to.

I'm a wee bit concerned, as I've done a bit of reading and this seems like it could be the early signs of Hind Leg Degeneration (HLD)? I've been watching his back legs like a hawk and he can still stand up, sit up and eat/clean, and he can obviously still climb and jump, but I am sensing some weakness in them just from his behaviour, but nothing currently major.

As far as I can tell, HLD is kind of unavoidable in older males, but is 19 months too early for this? Murphy isn't showing any signs of this at all.
Is there anything at all I can do for him, aside from keep an eye and adjust his habitat, etc. as needed?
He's still a happy boy - eating, sleeping and drinking well, and loves a good cuddle. I'm trying to keep him active as well - their cage generally requires some climbing effort to reach hammocks, etc., and I've been taking them for a run up the stairs lately to encourage Sylvester to keep using those muscles in his back legs, but I'm not sure if this is a good idea or even doing anything?

Any advice on this would be really appreciated!

Thanks.

_________________
3 Bucks fae Scotland
Garfunkel, Sylvester and Murphy, ❤


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 Post subject: Re: More Prominent Spine in 19 Month Old Buck
 Post Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:44 pm
Posts: 2086
Location: Glasgow
Hi,
it does sound like the wee man is seeing the early effects of aging :oldbuck: :love:
The prominent spine is in my experience quite common as their condition starts to age, as is hld. Best thing is to keep an eye on his weight, thats the best indication and shouldnt really change.
But...
...Kidney degeneration is also a consideration so check for excessive drinking, regular dilute urine, pale teeth, thinning fur, and if you have test strips check his wee for protein - its the excretion of proteins that can lead to muscle wastage and loss of condition.

The things I look at at this stage is hammock access, but also fall protection. Much as he may still be able to climb/jump, he sounds a little less sure of his footing so fall protection is a must.
There are also supplements such as Senior Aid which can help keep the joints going during old age/hld.
And finally, at their age, I would be looking at their diet in terms of kidney friendliness. This -> is a good article on Isamu rats. HLD can run in consort with kidney disease, especially as bucks are more prone to it, so its worth adapting their food at this point to a kidney friendly diet.

Many rats get to this stage and settle at that, a bit flip-floppy in the hind legs but otherwise active and mobile (like my old girl Jess who still uses the wheel, albeit just for a potter :love: ). Others can can progress to extensive hld and end up unable to use their hind legs at all requiring more hands on care/bathing etc.
Ive had both over the years and all can be happy, its just a case of working with it and enabling them to enjoy all their usual stuff in a way that is safe and enjoyable for them :) But its definitely worth looking at the kidneys and transitioning their diet as their in that age range now anyway.

I do love oldies :love: :oldbuck: :love:

_________________
Doug, witless provider to :
Ratties :smile: 2x yet-to-be-named ex lab boys :girly: Jess.
Budgies Freyja and Haiku.
:rattyrainbow: 42 storytellers loved and lost, most recently : Washburn :rattyrainbow:


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 Post subject: Re: More Prominent Spine in 19 Month Old Buck
 Post Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:41 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:18 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Scotland, UK
Thank you for responding! After reading your message I'm feeling a lot more hopeful that it is just old age and he'll be fine.

I'll definitely see about getting them on a kidney friendly diet and take a look into Senior Aid!

I probably will book him into the vet fairly soon though, because last night he felt a little skinnier than normal and seemed lethargic, though he did perk up a bit so he may have just been being lazy as oldies do, and I didn't weigh him to confirm any weight loss.
I may just be over-thinking it as any change in their behaviour makes me seriously paranoid.
Still, best to be sure!

Thanks again for the reply!

_________________
3 Bucks fae Scotland
Garfunkel, Sylvester and Murphy, ❤


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 Post subject: Re: More Prominent Spine in 19 Month Old Buck
 Post Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:18 pm
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Location: Scotland, UK
So I came home and weighed Vesti and I probably was just overreacting and adjusting to him being bonier, because he's actually fatter than ever :oops:
Very active and peppy tonight as well, so good signs!

_________________
3 Bucks fae Scotland
Garfunkel, Sylvester and Murphy, ❤


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 Post subject: Re: More Prominent Spine in 19 Month Old Buck
 Post Posted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:34 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:44 pm
Posts: 2086
Location: Glasgow
That's good to hear :)
My oldie girl Jess is a constant worry to me too. Every morning I wake her for breakfast to make sure all is well, otherwise she'll just sleep and I'll worry all day !
bless 'em :love:

Give them both a wee scritch from me and my lot...

_________________
Doug, witless provider to :
Ratties :smile: 2x yet-to-be-named ex lab boys :girly: Jess.
Budgies Freyja and Haiku.
:rattyrainbow: 42 storytellers loved and lost, most recently : Washburn :rattyrainbow:


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 Post subject: Re: More Prominent Spine in 19 Month Old Buck
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:51 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:18 pm
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Location: Scotland, UK
Haha, I'm the exact same with Sylvester! And I will do, :D

So, I took Vesti to the vet (back on the 24th of November), and he said he's pretty much in perfect health...aside from getting old, and the muscle degeneration. He suggested putting him on metacam twice a day, because he's probably a wee sore old man, which I did try, but I was/am wary of doing that everyday, so I've been saving that for when he seems particularly sluggish. Anyone have any advice regarding this?

The boys are also now on a kidney friendly diet, and Vesti in particular is on more and more soft foods, because lately he's been struggling quite a bit with holding his dried food (though he does try). He's lost some weight as well, but I think that's starting to level out now he's eating more soft foods, and he's still at 526g roughly, so he's still a sturdy boy.

Generally, he's a bit up and down lethargy wise. Not as nimble anymore, and he mostly sticks to the bottom of the cage now, in his box. He's more active during free time, and is still making an effort to eat, and he loves cuddles, so I'm just trying to make the most of his capabilities now and have him enjoy his time left.
I have noticed he and Murphy are fighting more now though - I'm not sure who's instigating it - could be a grumpy Sylvester or a bored Murph, and I think it's mostly over food (Murphy tends to dominate - Sylvester now gets all of his meals out of the cage so that I actually know he's getting fed!) They do still sleep together occasionally, but there have been some bloody scratches - nothing major though.

Anyway, this was a long winded update. I'm also looking to introduce some new guys to the gang sometime soon, because Murphy desperately needs someone to play with (he's been very restless and energetic as of late) but that's for another topic.

Thanks guys!

_________________
3 Bucks fae Scotland
Garfunkel, Sylvester and Murphy, ❤


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