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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this forum and I'm really hoping someone can help me. I have two dumbo boys one who is around a year old and the other who is about 4 months old. The older one started sneezing about 3 and a half weeks ago so I took him to the vet. He gave him some antibiotics (I'm not really sure what it was I forgot to check and was sure my vet gave me something appropriate seeing as they specialize in exotics and have plenty of rat experience). He took the antibiotics for about two weeks and the sneezing got a little better but didn't go away completely. After the two weeks was over I came home from school for break. The next day my big guy started to have sneezing fits and my younger boy was also sneezing occasionally. Back to the vet I went. They are both now on Baytril and Doxycycline along with benedryl and an alfalfa/yucca mix. They've been on this for about a week and a half now. Again the sneezing has decreased but hasn't completely gone away. I'm so worried about them and was wondering if any of you have had the same problem and what advice you could give. I keep them on carefresh bedding and mist it down everytime I clean the cage to reduce dust. I wipe their trays down multiple times a day with a wet towel to make sure there is no ammonia smell. They are on forti-diet with another food to supplement (it has pasta, dried fruit, seeds, and other pellets). If any of you could give me ANY advice or help it would be greatly appreciated.
 

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This is such a hard topic because there can be so many factors in a rat's environment that can cause sneezing (bedding, perfumes, air fresheners, dust, etc) so it is hard to pinpoint. Good that you have them on meds for their sneezing but if it is still there and not completely gone, well that is a hard one. Rats are so sensitive with their respiratory systems so little things can set them off. Could there be any mold issues from the dampness caused by spraying down the Carefresh? Just thinking out loud here. I am sure you will get some good advice on this forum once others see your post. Sounds like you are trying very hard to get this figured out. I feel for you!
 

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First, I would ask the vet to extend their prescription for longer than two weeks. If you are seeing improvement on the meds, that is a good sign, so you need to make sure they get a long enough course of ABs to work through their system. Baytril and doxycycline are the best combination, so stick with that and try to go for three full weeks, if possible.

In terms of their environment, I would switch out the carefresh bedding for polar fleece blankets. Carefresh is probably the best bedding that you can buy at pet stores, but it still creates dust, which is something you want to avoid. Go to your local craft store and buy a few yards of polar fleece (see the scrap bins with clearance prices--often they will have leftovers of fleece for really cheap!). Line the cage with the fleece, and cut up little blankies for them, too. I change mine out every couple of days, and wash them in the washing machine each week. I have been able to reuse them for the longest time now, which has saved me a lot of money over the past 2.5 years!
 

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Breyer, so glad you posted on this! Great advice. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for the advice! I was definitely planning on keeping them on the antibiotics for as long as they are sneezing. I actually just recently started misting the bedding I thought that might help reduce the sneezing which it might have just a tiny bit especially at first. I don't wear any perfume or any type of fragrant body soap because I know it can upset their respiratory systems (my hair has been pretty flat since I've stopped using hair spray as well lol). Thanks for the info about the polar fleece. I was reading up on it last night and wasn't sure how often it would need to be changed. Do you just do spot cleaning every day and then completely replace it every couple of days? My boys aren't litter box trained so I was thinking of maybe just getting a set for every day of the week and changing it every day. Is there anything else I can do on a daily basis to help alleviate their symptoms? I just feel so bad for them I would hate to sneeze as much as they do :(
 

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It is VERY easy to litter train rats for bowel movements, at least. Urine is something they just do wherever they feel like! :D Get a low tray to use as their litter box, and get some Yesterday's News cat litter (be sure to buy the cat one and NOT the kind labeled "Small Animal". It's the exact same litter, but they jack up the price on the small animal bag!) Put all of their little poops in the tray, and they should eventually start using it exclusively.

As far as general cleaning/maintenance is concerned, yes--I spot clean every day (usually morning and sometimes evening if needed) with unscented baby wipes. I do a complete cage cleaning once a week in which I actually clean with soap and water all of their cage parts and plastic toys/houses, as well as vacuum the area around their cage and playpen. Since Russell passed away last month, I just have Stanley to care for now, so I'm not having to change the fleece blankets quite as frequently. When I had both boys, I changed them out about every two days, and did "rat laundry" in the regular washer/dryer once a week. Very easy and cheap! :)

The most important thing is to eliminate the dust in their environment, which is why I strongly recommend switching to fleece blankets.
 

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I know, we all hate it when we see our sweet rat babies sneezing, don't we? :(

In regards to your question about fleece (and I know you will get great advice from Breyer again on this!) I used to pretty much do what you suggested....I had stacks and stacks of ratty fleece and flannel on a shelf and I would basically do a sniff test on all their bedding every day and change anything that smelled a bit "ripe". So a quick change every day or every other day, depending on which pieces of fleece in their housing smelled a bit. So, several changes a week, sometimes daily for me! Lots of ratty laundry at the end of the week! But I liked keeping their house nice and dry and fresh every day so it was never a bother. Some people don't like to use things like towels or washcloths as depending on the type of towelling, the little loops can get tangled in ratty toenails, but I did find some nice towels at thrift stores that were not "loopy" and I would use different sizes for different parts of their housing areas. But you do need to be careful not to get any towelling or fabric that has a lot of little loops in it. Fleece and flannel are always safe!
 

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Ahh! Just saw Breyer's post, yay! She has great advice!

She reminded me...yes, unscented baby wipes with no fragrance in them are GREAT for spot cleaning places in your rats' housing. They are the best for wiping down surfaces and keeping your babies safe from harmful chemicals. I loved em. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I went out and got some polar fleece for my boys two days ago. It seems to have helped reduce their sneezing a little bit. I've been replacing it on a daily basis but it doesnt seem to get TOO messy. I put a litter box in their cage and Sullivan (the white and gray rat) has decided that it is a great spot to keep all of his clean blankies (he likes organizing all his toys and such) so I'm thinking it might just be easier to clean it every day than to litter box train them lol. It won't let me post a picture fror some reason but I'll keep you guys updated!
 

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Heh heh, don't worry, my two boy rats Klausse and Wolfgang decided that they loved to play "litter box basketball" and they would always pick up their little cat toy jingle balls and put them into their litter box. It was the cutest thing. They just decided that "these go heres!!" :) Rats will do that!

A good tip for helping them with using the litter box, is to see if you can notice an area of their housing that they tend to leave their droppings/poops and pick THAT area for where the litter box goes. Put it where you think they naturally tend to poop the most. It could help! Also, when you see their droppings around their house, put a few in their litter box to prompt them in the direction of where they should be going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sebastian seems to be doing worse today :( I had them out this afternoon and he had a miniature sneezing fit about four in a row and I heard him sneeze three other separate times. I have yet to hear Sullivan sneeze today so there is a little good news. When my mom helped me give them their medicine this morning she had a lot of hairspray on (this was about 7 am and I had them out around 1). Could that have caused him to sneeze more frequently later in the day? or am I just trying to find reasons for him to be sneezing?
 

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I doubt the hairspray in the morning would have caused the afternoon sneezing. Hold him up to you so that your ear is pressed against the side of his chest, and listen to his lungs. Do they sound raspy, liquid, or gurgling? Continue giving him the medication, and make sure he is getting his full dose, but also listen to both sides of his chest every day to hear for any signs of change in his breathing.
 

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Oh, I'm sorry your boys are still sneezing. :(
I know how worrisome that can be. I hope they do well and get better with some new medicine. They are such adorable boys! Keep us posted on how they do, okay?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The vet gave them some more baytril and doxy they're also still on their yucca mix and benedryl (poor boys). I go back to school sunday so I'm sure that will start another flare up. It just feels like an uphill battle but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to at least reduce their symptoms. Do some rats just stay on ab's their whole life?
 

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Unfortunately, some do. My Russell was on and off ABs almost his entire life, and he just passed away at the end of November at the age of 28 months. Rats can lead a good, full life on ABs, but they do take a lot of extra care and need great nutrition. :)
 

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Yes some do, I have had a few who have had to be on antibiotics they're whole lives, off and on.

I use newspaper and fabric as well. Make sure you put the fabric through the washing machine often.

Sounds like you have done everything you can with taking them to the vet. You are a good owner! Keep giving the antibiotics, and do you have a nebulizer? That really helps to clear them up. Keep them warm, spot clean every day, and give veggies, fruit, scrambled eggs with a little olive oil, soy baby formula, baby food, for extra nutrients will help their bodies heal quickly. :)

Have you put the hammocks and everything through the wash as well? Those things get really stinky and the ammonia smell on them can really irritate the little guys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The boys were on abs for about 9 weeks and finally went off about a week ago but the sneezing has gotten worse again so were back to the vet today :/
 

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Did you see a marked improvement while they were on the ABs?
 
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