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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My poor Zmei. Why is it my boys only get sick on holidays when the vets aren't around? His myco flared up big time this weekend, and I found him puffy and curled up in a corner huffing for breath. He scared me badly. He wouldn't eat, and he wouldn't move. I couldn't even coax him to take some ensure. I really thought he was going to die on me this weekend.

I got him to the vet the next day where he spent the entire day on oxygen, anti-inflammatory, and a partridge in a pear tree. $256 dollars later, he's home and looking much better, but he's still noticeably off. He's on a month's worth plus of ab's.

This is his third bout if my calculations are correct and this one was by far the worst. I'm thinking he's going to be another chronic boy like Vlad's sweeties were.

He says he needs lots of cyber kisses from his aunties.
 

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Awww, my poor Zmei baby! I feel for you and for Zmei, Story. I know how it feels. :(

Please, please give my sweet nephew Zmei lots and lots of get well kisses, ear scritches, rubs and cuddles from Auntie Vlad. I love you Zmei, and I want you to stay healthy and strong, okay? I am sure Klausse and Wolfgang send their love too. :hug:

Keep us posted on our boy, okay?
 

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Oh no!! :hugg2: :hugg2: Poor Zmei! You know, Russell has also had chronic respiratory problems off and on throughout his life, and there have been a couple of times where I thought he was not going to make it... but he did. What I always do is to try to get him to lick some water (or milk--he's more motivated to lick something with a taste when he's having breathing problems). It helps him to concentrate and focus his breathing on the licking, which usually helps him to calm down.

I also keep a small bottle of Afrin spray for when he has obvious nasal congestion. If it's coming from the lungs, it won't really do much, but if it's nasal congestion, I put a tiny drop of it on my finger (with a medicine syringe) and rub it on his nose. This was recommended by my vet last year, and it does work for him. Just be careful not to put more than one drop, or it might be too strong.

I have also tried steam--take him into the bathroom with the shower running on hot, and cover the space under the door with a towel so none of the air evaporates. If you can hold him in there for a while, it might also help to clear his lungs a bit.

These aren't great remedies, but they do seem to help Russ, so maybe they will work for Zmei, too?

I hope he feels better really soon!!! :hugg2: :hugg2:
 

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Wow Breyer, what awesome suggestions! I wish I had known about the Afrin drop trick on the nose for my babies. Great post. You are such a great rat mommy. I hope Zmei feels better too. Hang in there Zmei!
 

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Oh, I forgot one other thing, and of course it's my most common remedy (doh!): I also keep a bottle of liquid Children's Sudafed on hand. When he sounds particularly congested, I give him a dose of it (usually mixed in something else, lately in baby porridge). Follow the instructions on the bottle for how often to dose. (Usually it's every 4-6 hours, no more than 6 times a day, but I tend to only do three times a day total, or MAYBE four if he's really having a hard time. Generally it only takes once in the morning and once in the evening, if he's still congested, to help him feel better.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh my thank you soooo much for all these tips. I can't help but remember when we were all three rat noobs two years ago. I guess that's why I feel especially connected to you guys online because we started our first year of school together.

Zmei rebounded remarkably well from this bout. He hates taking his med now though. He gives great stink eye. I can still tell he's not well, but he's not like he was. I'm adding more stuff to my first aid kit.
 

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I'm glad these will come in handy for you! It's nice to be able to share our tricks with each other. :D

I'm also really glad to hear he's feeling better than he was. I don't blame him for not wanting the meds anymore, though! Russ has been off and on ABs so many times that he basically hates them, too... so I always have to mix them in random foods for him. Lately I've been mixing his sudafed in baby porridge, which he gobbles right up. The classic Russell mix for doxycycline--the worst of the drugs in terms of taste!--is the following:

baby food squash (about one finger-full)
+ one good drop of honey
+ medicine

He will usually take this for the first several days just by itself. Further along the med cycle, though, I also add in some rolled oats to that same mix, and he is happier to eat it all. :)
 

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Isn't it amazing how much rats love porridge/oatmeal? My boys used to LOVE it too. I am glad Breyer's tips helped out..such great ideas on making meds a bit nicer for the babies. Get better Zmei, okay? We all love you! :wave:
 

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P.S. on the last post...wow Story, I didn't know you were a rat noob two years ago too! When I first came on to the forum, I thought you were some long time ratty veteran! See, ya fooled me! You sounded like a pro. (Maybe because anyone with the slightest hint of sound advice sounded like a pro to me when I was a noob. :D
 

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Aw... poor Zmei!! I take it he is doing good now? Can the respiratory illness he had spread to the others? Oh be careful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Hi james, :)

He's still having issues. He's on a month's worth of antibiotics (AB's), and is just not completely recovering like he has in the past from flare ups.

To answer your question, yes, it is very courageous, but....

See, the root of his issues are with a bacterial infection called mycoplasmosis, or myco for short. From what I understand, it's a bacteria that lives in the lungs and genitals of most all domesticated rats in the United States and Canada. Australia's pet rat population doesn't carry myco fortunately, because they have those strict import policies. Baby rats catch myco at birth. It's very difficult to keep out of a rat colony and almost impossible to remove completely once it's there.

What the myco does is just kind of hang around stressing a rat's immune system until such a time as environmental or social stresses gives it a stronger foothold to overwhelm the rat. It causes inflammation of the lungs which opens the rat up to secondary infections. This can be a UTI in the genitals, or a URI in the lungs. Over time the lungs scar up, like in asthma sufferers, and breathing issues become chronic. Add to that the weakened immune system that accompanies age, and you've got a problem.

The best treatment is preventative care. Feed your rat a high quality balanced diet, keep them at a healthy weight, and keep the cage clean. Keep their air space free of chemicals or dust, keep them well socialized from a young age to reduce their instinctive 'new situation' stress.

Though it is not applicable if you adopt your rats from rescues, another area of preventative care involves choosing a rat with a known family history of strong immune systems. That boils down to choosing a quality rat breeder with a proven track record. At it's best though, getting a rat with a strong immune system is hit and miss no matter what.

My rats come from two different breeders collectively. My four black boys (including Windham, my lost boy) came from one bloodline. They have all had very minor respiratory issues so far--perhaps being treated none, or once each for a URI in their lives. The youngest is currently 10 months old, and the oldest pair are right at 19 months old.

Zmei came from the same rattery as my black boys, but it was a new line the breeder was adding known for their outstanding people loving personalities. It was only after she did one litter pairing, she discovered the buck's bloodline had been misrepresented to her and actually had a problem with respiratory issues. She discontinued the father's line after Zmei's litter.

Zmei has had 4 URI's in his 11 months, with this last one tipping him over the edge from occasional flare ups, to a chronic condition. His illness has already been costly. I've spent more on him alone than I've spent on the other 4 boys together.

My last two boys, the hairless wonder twins, came from a back yard breeder who got her hairless line from Pet Smart. I wanted hairless, so I got them anyway in spite of early concerns I had unrelated to the Pet Smart connection, which I found out only after I brought them home. Hairless rats already tend towards health issues just because of their hairlessness, but these guys had no breeding for health to begin with. They have had problems with abscesses and several respiratory problems.

I had another surprise from that girl too. When I informed the breeder that I was taking them to be neutered for hormonal aggression and that she would want to consider discontinuing the line, she said, oh yeah, she deliberately breeds for what she called 'spunky' personalities. She likes a little rowdy fight in her rats. Call it what she wanted, she was actively breeding for aggression.

I am a cautionary tale.

Anyway, more than you wanted to know, but the moral of the story is: Rats are prone to respiratory illnesses (and tumors), so plan for the high-for-their-size vet care over their lifespan, and take a proactive and aggressive preventative approach to their health.

And oh yeah...avoid back yard breeders like the plague if you can.
 
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