Old age?

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Scaredy Rat
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Old age?

Post by Scaredy Rat » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:20 am

My boy Loki will turn 2 years in five days. When I came home after a 1-week vacation (my parents were taking care of him and my other rat during that time) I immediately noticed that he seemed less active than usual (he is normally a very hyperactive rat) and was somewhat weak in the legs. What troubled me most is that he couldn't seem to remember the spin trick I had taught him. Over the course of two weeks, since I came from my vacation, he has gradually gotten worse.

- He clearly has little strength in his limbs - he can still walk about normally (though slowly), but he can't jump or climb, and even has trouble standing upright to drink and holding food firmly in his paws.

- He does have appetite and the will to get out of his cage for a stroll.

- However, I sometimes get the feeling that he is a bit more jumpy than he used to be; he flinched on several occassions when he heard a noise or when I approached him.

What troubles me most is that not only his physical health seems to be deteriorating, but I suspect his mental capacities are failing, too. :(
He will still approach me and let himself be petted, but I think it's more of his being used to people than knowing exactly who I am.

Like I said, he has gradually gotten worse in the course of two weeks. I first noticed this when I came back after a week. I suspect this is because I hadn't seen him in a while and was more attentive to changes in his behavior.

Are these normal signs of old age or could there be something wrong with him? Something that could perhaps be treated or at least palliated? Could he be losing his sight, smell and hearing?
I have another boy rat, Marvin, who is of the same age but lives in another cage because they don't get along. They're half brothers; they share a father :D
They live in the same environment, eat the same food, get the same amount of exercise..

Oh yeah, I'm a little reluctant to admit, but Loki is a bit on the heavy side :oops: They both are, actually. I've tried putting them on a diet, but they just remain pudgy.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who is willing to help me with my question! :smileyrat:

Mulberry (Jane)
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Re: Old age?

Post by Mulberry (Jane) » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:55 am

I don't want to panic you, but I would go along with your gut feeling that something is wrong with Loki.
I would take him to see a vet. A urine test would show if he has kidney problems which can show up as hind leg mobility problems and general malaise. If Loki has a problem like this he can be treated with ipakatine (which binds to protein) and a low protein "kidney friendly" diet which whilst it doesn't cure the kidney damage does slow further deterioration.
It may be that Loki has a neurological problem. My rat who had a pituitary tumour had some symptoms that seemed a bit like Loki's. I'd suggest that you look up PT threads in this section of the forum just to see if his problems could be this. If you think Loki does have a PT (I hope he hasn't ) take him to a vet asap, some rats respond well to steriods.
Fingers crossed for Loki, and for you- it's so worrying when they are not themselves.
Mulberry rats are: Tuck, Islay, Mull & Treshnish
Guinevere, Excaliber, Nymwai, Muddy, Lightnin' , BB, Monty , Brownie, Koko, Etta, Jensen, Fernando, Felipe, Vanilla, Tiffin & Matilda.

Remembered with love: Little Jon and my other sweethearts x

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Re: Old age?

Post by Neotoma » Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:23 pm

It sounds neurological to me (although at that age certainly no harm in checking urine as well). I'd get him to the vet and see what they think.
Alison and the horde of squish :smileyrat:

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Re: Old age?

Post by Scaredy Rat » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:05 pm

Thank you both for your answers. I'll call the vet tomorrow and make an appointment. I hope they'll be able to help.

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Re: Old age?

Post by Scaredy Rat » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:47 pm

Just curious, how does a vet take a urine sample?

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Re: Old age?

Post by Neotoma » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:19 pm

If it's for kidney dipping, mine usually picks them up and they immediately pee on him and the examining table :lol: My lot don't consider it a good vets visit if they haven't pee'd on him. More constructivly, you'd put them in a plastic carrying case with no substrate, preferably after they've just woken up, and wait.
Alison and the horde of squish :smileyrat:

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Re: Old age?

Post by Scaredy Rat » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:10 pm

So no sofisticated method then. :) and yeah, my boys are the same.. marking everything they happen to step on.

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Re: Old age?

Post by Scaredy Rat » Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:09 pm

So, Loki has been on a steroid- and antibiotics treatment for over a week now and did get a bit better at some point, but is slowly deteriorating again. It's most likely a tumor, like Mulberry suggested. I have to feed him mushy food and grind everything down for him to eat. He's very slow, but at least doesn't seem to be in pain. The night before I took him to the vet he was constantly moving around his cage, unable to sleep, as if something was bothering him badly. I'm happy at least the medication seems to help with that, so he's able to rest. Thanks to both of you for your advice and support.

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Re: Old age?

Post by Squirrel » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:00 pm

Just curious, which steriod did they give him? Metacam is good but I think there is another better one beginning Dex something. And I think with any steriod, if it starts being less effective, the dose can be increased. (There are dangerous side effects but in a very old rat I think these dangers are probably outweighed by the benefits).

All the best to little Loki.
Mummy to Courcelles, Lilac, Feather, Midnight & Cocoa

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Re: Old age?

Post by Neotoma » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:45 pm

Metacam's not a steroid :wink: There are a few steroids for use in rats - dex is usually the first go to for resp disease as it is short acting and doesn't depress the immune system too much, but in a brian tumour the vet might well have gone for something longer lasting.

If it's likely to be a brain tumour, then I'm afraid it's just a case of minimising symptom progression and deciding the best time to pts. I tend to go early rather than late with brain tumours, but it's something that has to be decided individually for each rat :(
Alison and the horde of squish :smileyrat:

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Re: Old age?

Post by Scaredy Rat » Tue Aug 16, 2011 8:43 am

Squirrel wrote:Just curious, which steriod did they give him? Metacam is good but I think there is another better one beginning Dex something. And I think with any steriod, if it starts being less effective, the dose can be increased. (There are dangerous side effects but in a very old rat I think these dangers are probably outweighed by the benefits).

All the best to little Loki.
Loki got Prednisolone. And thank you for the wishes :smileyrat:

To those who have had experience with tumors in rats.. do you decide to put them to sleep eventually? I'd much rather that he die peacefully at home, but if the suffering is too great, it's still better to ease the pain for him. I have another checkup today, but by the look of things, it might as well be the last for Loki :(
Should I decide on euthanasia?

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Re: Old age?

Post by Mulberry (Jane) » Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:38 pm

I wanted my Little Jon who had a PT to die at home, but she didn't, and eventually I decided that the only kind thing was PTS. She had enjoyed being nursed, and fed, and I was around to give her 24 hour care, but eventually I felt all quality of life had gone. I think only you will know when the time is right for Loki.
Mulberry rats are: Tuck, Islay, Mull & Treshnish
Guinevere, Excaliber, Nymwai, Muddy, Lightnin' , BB, Monty , Brownie, Koko, Etta, Jensen, Fernando, Felipe, Vanilla, Tiffin & Matilda.

Remembered with love: Little Jon and my other sweethearts x

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