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First-Aid Treatments for Rats with Respiration Problems

While it is not a lovely sight to see a human being resuscitating a rat through its pointed mouth, it is a fact that pet rat owners actually devote time to learn how to do first-aid treatments to their pets.

On Respiratory Distress

Who says only humans can have unstable respiratory conditions? Rats, whether they have respiration-related diseases in the past or not, are very prone to sudden respiratory distresses. Rats "tell" their owners that they are in need of air by opening up their pointy mouths up in the air -- as if they are gasping. Some rats would dash around the cage out of panic while other would produce the sound of laboured breathing. While these problems usually do not last long, pet rat owners should still pay particular attention to it because in such a short span of time, it can also suffocate the rodents to death. Thus, it is in the best interest of the pet owner to address the problem right away.

The easiest way to help the rat out is to let the rat breathe air of very high humidity; you can use a humidifier for this purpose, but if you can't find a humidifier at hand, simply escort your rat to the bathroom while you keep the shower running -- the shower (especially when it is lukewarm) will make the air inside the bathroom misty. Moreover, if these two methods do not suit you, you can always just boil some water on your stove and cradle your rat close to the steam that it produces. But remember, hot steam can burn your rat's lungs; thus, keep your rat a little bit distant from the stove (2-3 feet will definitely do).

If the above-mentioned first-aid treatments do not work, try to see if something is obstructing your rat's breathing passage; it may be mucus or some other foreign bodies. If that is the case, then your pet's condition is not really a respiratory distress, rather, it is another case of choking. To see how choking is supposed to be treated, see my other article entitled "First-aid Treatments for Choking Rats". Nonetheless, if the methods above do not work and after inspection, you figured out that nothing is obstructing your pet's breathing passage, then the problem might be something that is more serious. It's either you pet has asthma or other illnesses that restrict the respiratory system to let air in and out of the lungs. If this is the case (and if you love your rat too much that you can't just dispose of it), you might need to purchase a bronchodilator. Such products are meant to be maintenance drugs, thus, it is not wise to really keep a pet that requires as much maintenance as an asthmatic rat.

Anyway, if you are still very serious about "saving" your pet rat, you can try subjecting your rat to subcutaneous aminophylline injections. This drug is powerful enough to force your rat's air passageway to expand, thus allowing air to get in and out of the lungs once again. This drug is also used for humans experiencing the same problem. If the rat's air passageways are inflamed, the drug can also be used alongside dexamethasone. Asthma inhalers coupled with Ibuprofen (120mg) tablets can also work if both aminophylline and dexamethasone are not available.

Lastly, if none of these treatments work, the last possible resort is to force oxygen into your rat's lungs. You might need to rush to an animal clinic for the oxygen mask and tank. If the rat's condition does not improve even after giving it oxygen, as the owner, you will be left with two choices:

1. To euthanize the rat

2. To wait if the medications worked or not.
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