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Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:31 am
by Onthewires
Hi all,
After living with my parents since the summer, my last 2 remaining girls are set to move back in with me soon :D Their current diet is mainly science selective - they were on a 'mix' of sorts before (HBB, selective, RRno11, seed mix and dry pasta/rice) but my mum added a lot of extra treats into it that have caused one of the girls to selective feed and gain quite a bit of weight. I thought the science selective would help her control their diet a bit more but so far it hasn't made a difference.

My other girl Pangur looked very slim/lethargic the last time I saw her, so I want to try and bulk her up while restricting what my tubby girl eats. I'm interested in making up my own mix but have steered clear of rat rations for a while because the smaller bags I'd buy would be mostly dust. Would love some suggestions on where to begin, and if I should be feeding them separately until Ash loses some weight. How much is appropriate for 2 rats, and is there more I can do to help Ash shed a few pounds?

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:01 am
by cyber ratty
The 'dust' you recall seeing will have been made up of seaweed, garlic, and dried herbs - I would still recommend #11, but when you get it, mix up the bag thoroughly so the finer ingredients get distributed more evenly, or alternatively you could use the 'dust' to make small cookies for the rats to eat once a week.

In terms of managing their weights through their diet, I'd suggest scatter feeding about 13g each per day, but divide it into two helpings so that Pangur eats a larger share of it. You can then also give Pangur an extra meal of cooked carbs and low fat protein at a separate time. If you feel that's not effective enough, you could also try filling Ash up with watery veg before giving them their dry mix.

Then finally you can work on getting Ash to exercise by playing on the stairs, or learning physical tricks like rope climbing, jumping, etc. Make sure the cage has a good active layout too, with lots of climbing and balancing items.

Steer clear of pasta for Ash, it's terrible for them gaining weight, although maybe you could give Pangur a piece as a treat. ;)

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:26 pm
by Onthewires
Thanks for the reply!

Yes, definitely hoping that some more movement will help her. She's always been a bit chunky but my mum hasn't been having them out of the cage often and doesn't like to put too much into the set up so don't think that's helped!

I also wanted to ask about supplementing, I think I used to use daily essentials 1 but they haven't had it in a long while as they used to drink all their water incredibly quickly. Is dailyrat 3 the best way to go? How often should I be giving it to them and will it be okay to slowly introduce it as I increase their fresh food intake? Currently they get very little fresh veg, so I'm wary of giving too much to start with. I'm thinking of building up from twice a week to every other day to daily over the next couple of weeks so don't know if I should supplement on the days I don't give veg too.

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:38 pm
by cyber ratty
Supplements aren't needed daily, for a #11 diet give them 3 times a week, for an isamix version give them twice a week. Veggies don't need to be daily either, 3 - 5 times a week is fine.

Either give DR3, or give both calcivet and Dr. Squiggles.

If you opt for Dr. Squiggles, make it up separately in a small bottle of water (for 2 rats I'd mix 2.5ml of powder into 30ml water), so they have their normal water as well. They do love it, so it will get drunk quickly.

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:09 am
by tabirat
I don't think you've said how old your girls are? If they are older you may need to consider reasons other than diet for Pangur's weight loss. If they are elderly she may just be a rat who needs more calories to thrive, and this is the time when processed carbs can help a great deal as they are much easier to digest, and can boost calories and absorption of nutrients.

As you have two rats with very different needs you need to approach feeding from the point of view of the most vulnerable rat which in your case is Pangur. I would suggest feeding her a nutrient rich diet, including easily digested grain and some calorie dense fresh foods like avocado and coconut. Arden Grange liver paste for dogs is also good in this regard and seems to be rattie heaven.

Do all this in the cage, while at the same time letting your other girl out for a run about, or a play with a cat wand or similar. Anytime from teatime through to late evening is a good time, and you probably need to give her about half an hour to eat before letting her out and removing any left overs. Then you can feed the normal grain mix at a reduced quantity.

If your up for it, you can repeat this in the morning!

Rats are different to humans in terms of exercise and weight loss. Because of their rapid metabolic rate it is perfectly possible to diet a rat primarily through increased activity. Reduced rations always help as does keeping treats to an absolute minimum. Good luck! I have a pair with very different weights at the moment too, and it's not always easy to get the balance right.

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:38 am
by Onthewires
Thanks for the reply,
Got the girls home this weekend, but it doesn't look good re Pangur's loss in weight as she's been showing some symptoms of a PT over the past couple of days. I've been giving her cooked pasta and Weetabix with soy milk in the evenings while I get Ash out for some extra excercise. She's shown some interest but I think she's finding it particularly difficult to hold and eat food, so it hasn't been very successful and I'm having to take the food out once Ash goes back in. Their new mix should be here tomorrow, I'm hoping that she'll get on better with that than the science selective and be encouraged to graze a but more, but as her appetite is so low I'm not sure if it'll make too much difference.

Will definitely try to get some avacado tomorrow and potentially book a vet appointment. I don't think the vet I use will be will be that rat savvy so what is my best course of action for her treatment wise? I know there isn't much I can do for her at this stage but don't want her to be in discomfort.

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:02 am
by cyber ratty
Sorry to hear that. :(

If it is a PT then steroids can help in the short term. You should probably start making plans for Ash in terms of future companions.

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:54 pm
by Onthewires
Yes, that's definitely a concern now, I'd planned on having a bit more time to weigh up my options but doesn't look as though Pangur will have long left. We made a little more progress today with the feeding routine, tried morning and evening feeding and she has eaten some, but no change in her condition.

Ash on the other hand seems to be doing really well, she's been a lot more active the past few days. I'm hoping that I'll be able to introduce her to some younger rats and that will continue to help her shed some weight.

Will ring vet's in the morning and see what they say.

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:33 pm
by [cub]
Cabergoline can slow the progression of PTs if they're prolactin-driven, so if your vet is willing it's worth giving it a try alongside steroids. The PT dose of cabergoline is quite high though (0.6mg/kg every 3 days), so it's best dosed using human cabergoline tablets rather than Galastop liquid. Galastop is quite low concentration so it ends up being a huge volume of liquid; the tablets are much more practical.

She might find it easier to eat foods that she can just kind of stick her face into rather than having to use her hands, so cooked rice rather than pasta (or use the really small pasta shapes), mashed potato (don't make it too thick/sticky as that becomes a bit of a choking hazard, but don't hesitate to put in plenty of butter if she likes it!), mushy peas, scrambled egg, yoghurt, etc. If it's a PT then realistically you're looking at palliative care sadly, so she may as well have whatever foods she can manage that she enjoys.

Re: Overweight and underweight rats - diet changes

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:55 am
by Onthewires
Just thought I'd post an update. Pangur seems to be doing okay, I haven't been able to get her to a vet yet, but it doesn't seem as though shes getting much worse. Her behaviour is quite strange, she has moments where she appears fine, will happily eat and climb about in the cage and is inquisitive/alert but then others where she looks very poorly with her fur spiky and breathing heavily :(

She is still not eating as much as I'd like, some nights are better than others but a lot of the time she turns her nose up at absolutely everything (including yoggies!) I don't know if its definitely a PT as her coordination seems to be better than it was at the start of the week. I've been giving her Doxy for the past few days as her breathing had been quite laboured/slightly snotty and I thought the weight loss could possibly be uri related, so I don't know if that could be making a difference? I've also been giving her very small amounts of CBD oil after seeing a couple of studies that suggest it can reduce tumour growth rate. I figured that because it's likely that any treatment will be palliative there would be no harm in trying it out too.

Is there anything else that could be causing her erratic symptoms and lack of interest in food? Will try to get her to the vets Monday but I'm not sure what sort of diagnosis a non-rat vet will be able to give :?