Are supplements essential/ diet for older rats

Discuss what your rats eat. From general diet, food brands, eating problems and treat foods.
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Rach210
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Are supplements essential/ diet for older rats

Post by Rach210 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:23 pm

I currently feed a complete ready-made mix from RatRations which my boys seem to like a lot. They also get fresh fruit or veg most days. Is it essential that I feed a suplement like Dr Squiggles or can they get everything they need from their diet?

Also, my boys are all 1 year or older, should I be feeding a kidney friendly diet now? And If I introduced them to the 3 babies my OH will be getting later this year, should we just feed the basic complete mix rather than a kidney friendly one?

Sorry for all the questions, I've just switched from petshop food and want to make sure my boys are getting a better diet now
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Re: Are supplements essential/ diet for older rats

Post by Neotoma » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:34 pm

It's not essential* - I don't unless there is a medical indication for it (e.g. I do give joint supplements to those with creaky hind-ends), and my health and life-span stats indicate I'm not doing much wrong. However, I do feed a shed-load (i.e. over 50% of the total diet) of very varied fresh food every day - dry mix is very much only one part of the diet, and is intended to meet their grain requirements rather than their full nutritional requirements. If you are feeding a more conventional amount of dry food, and it's straights, then supplements aren't a bad idea.

If you have a mixed age group, I'd feed a base mix that is suitable for the older ones (i.e something fairly kidney friendly) and then feed the babies their extra separately. A kidney friendly mix won't harm the babies, as long as they get their full protien and calorie needs met overall.

*although I gather I'm in the minority on this, possibly because I feed differently.
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Re: Are supplements essential/ diet for older rats

Post by Jemma » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:38 pm

It isn’t essential to feed daily essentials and calcivet, however unless you’re very happy with meeting the needs via an alternative source (e.g. fresh food) and have a very good understanding of your rats condition I would say it’s strongly advisable. A straights based mix on it’s own is deficient in calcium, vitamin D and copper. Some of this can be met by daily veg, some can’t. If you fed regular good sized fresh meals, including things like bones, seasame seeds and liver (or similar), then the rats could do very well on it (hence why Neotoma’s rats do so well). If your feeding and your relatively new to rats and want the easier option I would say feeding those supplements or another like Daily 3 is a good idea.

Interestingly I’m also feeding a lot closer to Neotoma lately (last few months), currently I’m still supplementing but my veg (when frozen) is about 50% by weight to my dry and very varied. About once to twice a week I’m feeding a wet meal rather than dry and they get various oils, protein sources and such in this. I still supplement but over time I will probably try knocking it back a little to see how they get on. Right now it is improving there condition a fair bit, well the older two, the babies were pretty good anyway lol.

As your oldest are 1 and the RR adult mix is already pretty kidney friendly (just not the whole hog) then they are probably fine on that. If they start looking a bit older, loosing condition getting a bit thin around the back end then I would switch them over, if not I would wait until you can see them ageing or 18 months if you want to be cautious. As Neotmoa has said the babies will do fine on that, or the kidney friendly one, you’ll just need to feed them extra meals high in protein whilst there growing quickly.
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Re: Are supplements essential/ diet for older rats

Post by Rach210 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:59 pm

They're all quite chunky boys and even the 2 year old is showing no signs of aging. I'll probably change to a kidney friendly mix, increase the fresh food and add a supplement when I do my next RR order though, I want them to keep going well into old age.
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Re: Are supplements essential/ diet for older rats

Post by Neotoma » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:56 pm

Jemma wrote: Interestingly I’m also feeding a lot closer to Neotoma lately (last few months), currently I’m still supplementing but my veg (when frozen) is about 50% by weight to my dry and very varied. About once to twice a week I’m feeding a wet meal rather than dry and they get various oils, protein sources and such in this. I still supplement but over time I will probably try knocking it back a little to see how they get on. Right now it is improving there condition a fair bit, well the older two, the babies were pretty good anyway lol.
My feeling is rats are broad spectrum omnivores, and therefore are best fed that way. Complete dry mixes can have all the right nutrients in (through supplementing at either manufacture or at the dish), and be perfectly acceptable, but at the end of the day, they, like nuggets and lab blocks, were something invented for human convenience, rather than because they are the foods rats are most adapted to. Additionally, there was some suggestion in humans that 'superfoods' (the most beneficial fruit and veg basically) had more health benefit than supplements containing the same identified beneficial compounds - the theory being that maybe to get maximum benefit some complex interaction between the compounds present is necessary. So my feeling is to meet needs via food if possible, and supplement where not possible or appropriate (for example I found joint supplements and oily fish had roughly the same benefit in HLD, but the amount of fish needed wouldn't have been suitable for slightly dodgy kidneys - so for that I prefer supplements).

I also think a diet high in fresh food is tastier and more exciting, and I strongly feel food should be pleasurable. I'd never get rid of a dry mix because obviously grain is one of the foods rats are most adapted to - but I do think it would be good if it was increasingly seen as one part of a good diet, rather than the main component.
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Re: Are supplements essential/ diet for older rats

Post by MarieM » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:58 am

I also think a diet high in fresh food is tastier and more exciting, and I strongly feel food should be pleasurable. I'd never get rid of a dry mix because obviously grain is one of the foods rats are most adapted to - but I do think it would be good if it was increasingly seen as one part of a good diet, rather than the main component.
I agree with that, fresh is simply more interesting than chewing on some hard processed nugget. I mainly feed fresh with a supplemental dry mix I make myself to compliment the wet/dry balance.

I like to include a fair amount of wholefood supplements too due to the poor soil conditions these days in which the food is grown.
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