Star! I have an URGENT rattie question - need advice

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by flutterby, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    As you know, difficult child has several rats. One, named Moose, was horribly abused. He is missing half of his face, and his right, rear leg was broken and not treated and has healed so that it's almost backwards. We adopted him from a rescue when he was 9 months old. He's a year and a half old now. He is just the sweetest boy.

    A month ago, he had a *very* fast growing tumor - went from nothing to the size of a golfball within a week - and we had it removed. He healed well, but the tumor is returning. The vet said that something like 98% of tumors on rats are benign, but since it is returning so soon it is probably cancer. It is along his deformed leg. His recommendation is to either 1) do another lumpectomy, but the tumor will almost definitely return; or 2) remove the tumor and the deformed leg to try to get as much of the bad tissue as possible.

    This guy had such a crappy life, and he is such a sweet boy, and difficult child and I are both HUGE animal lovers and we want to do what is best for him. If we do nothing, the tumor will surely become HUGE in no time. If we do the lumpectomy, the tumor is almost guaranteed to remove. If we do the amputation, though, there is still no guarantee that it will get all of the cancer and that it won't come back. We want to give this little guy every possible chance, but we don't want to do it if it is going to impair his quality of life. The leg is already badly deformed, but he does still use it. I spoke to the vet about the possibility of him getting sores on that side from dragging it and he said as long as there is plenty of soft bedding - which there always is - it should be ok.

    You have so much more experience with rats and I really want your input. My heart is breaking for this little guy. We just want to do the right thing. Any thoughts?
  2. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Wish I had some answers for you. What does the vet suggest as the best thing?
  4. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    The vet recommends amputating. I spoke to the person who runs the rescue we adopted Moose from and she said because of his age, if she still had him she wouldn't do the surgery at all. She would just let him live out the rest of his life until his quality of life became too impaired. I don't know. I know our vet wouldn't have even made the recommendation if he didn't think it was a good, viable option. I just don't want to make the wrong decision.
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    His age? He's not THAT old.
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    He'll be 2 in October, and 2 is geriatric for a rat.
  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Really? My friends had theirs for 4-5 years.
  8. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    That's a really long time. Average is 3 years, but some do live longer of course.
  9. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I thought hers were the norm. I could be wrong on the dates, too, as I know she had a couple. What would most improve his quality of life?
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    He's middle-aged for a rat, plus he already has crappy quality of life. That leg is deformed anyway, I would be amputating the leg and seeing how he goes. It would greatly delay the tumour's return (if it is going to return) so if, by the time it does return, it becomes a problem - by then he will be a geriatric rat and it will perhaps be easier to let him go.

    Something we found with rats - some surface sprays seemed to be causing tumours. OK, the rats in that area were a bit more susceptible (being partly immuno-compromised) but it was a worry. So if you need to deal with pests, use insect baits and not sprays or bombs. That should reduce the tumour problems to the minimum possible.

    We rarely had our rats living past 18 months, it was the pampered ones in the environmentally controlled room that were allowed to live out their days - it was a detailed longevity study, the findings were that rats with some calorie deprivation could live a lot longer. Rats with pituitary removed plus food deprivation lived almost twice as long. I wasn't directly involved in that work, except when they needed extra hands to clean out the rat room. I was involved in removing pituitary glands in rats, though. Tricky, but we could do a rat in five minutes. That's going from anaesthesia to recovery. Another thread was talking about chloroform - we avoided using it, we preferred ether. I believe they use something else now. But we once used chloroform "in a pinch" and found our 99% success rate dropped to below 50%. It made the rats really sick, so we stopped it until we got more ether in. Chucked out the chloroform.

    Poor little rattie. I hope you can help him.

  11. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Thank you for the input, Marg.

    I think we're going to do the amputation. This guy has such a will to live - he shouldn't have lived through what he did as a baby. We have to make a decision tonight because after tomorrow our vet is gone til after the 4th of July. The other vet in the practice doesn't treat pocket pets. So, the surgery is tomorrow or it may be too late. It's a very fast growing tumor.

    I don't use pesticide sprays. Or I should say, I almost never use them, and I never use them around the animals. They make me sick and I don't like the idea of chemicals like that in the house anyway. We feed lab blocks by Harlan Tech - they were created for lab rats, or by studying lab rats. Something like that. We were making our own rat food, but discovered that we could buy the lab blocks - which are recommended by vets and rescues and those that know a lot more about rats than we do - for less than it cost to make our own food. And we supplement with fresh fruits and veggies.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sounds like a good diet for them. Our lab rats just got the rat cubes, but the pampered ones in the longevity study often got other stuff. But they all had to have the same, or the study would not have been valid. The animal house attendant boss had her own pet rat that had the run of the place, it usually was perched on her shoulder while she did her paperwork. She'd put him back in his a cage when she had any work to do away from her desk, especially moving other animals. We had cats there as well as other large animals.

  13. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I have another question for you, Marg. As you know, male ratties do the dominance thing. It looks like they're being aggressive, but they're really just reinforcing the pecking order. Moose is housed with a very docile, submissive male rattie, but still feels the need, daily, to let it be known that he is the boss. He does the walking sideways, and occasionally there is a quick scuffle - last less than 15 seconds. difficult child is worried that if he has his leg amputated that Moose will become more aggressive because he will feel threatened with his leg gone. Any thoughts on that?
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    He might find walking sideways is a bit tricky...

    I suggest Wynter draws up a research protocol. Premise of the experiment - "Will Moose show an increase in aggressive behaviours after his leg is amputated?"
    Method: First observe the incidence of aggressive behaviours before surgery. How many times in a given period of time does Moose threaten the other rat? What sort of aggressive behaviour is it?
    Then after surgery, repeat the observations. What are the main behaviours? Is there a variation from the previous incidence? From the type of behaviours?

    She then writes up her findings. Yes, there was a difference; or no, there was no significant variation observed. Conclusions - surgery did/did not change Moose's behaviour with regard to level of aggression.

    Feed this back to the vet, who I am sure will be very interested. They don't often get this kind of report on the outcome of their surgery, especially for "pocket pets".

  15. Star*

    Star* call 911

    flutter -

    SO SORRY I didn't get on the board yesterday. I surely would have answered this. I wish you would have called me, thought you had my number from the reunion and I would have been more than glad to talk to you.

    FIRST Tumors are very hard on rats. They will drag them around, gather sores and then get secondary infections. So since you did the way right thing the first time? I'm glad glad to hear it. As far as the second tumor and the deformed leg? My thoughts go two ways and I want you to be prepared for the thoughts and not tell Wynter.

    Thought one is to let him be. It's June. He's already been through surgery once and anesthesia the second time could take his life anyway and at this point you are putting him up on quantity of life against quality of life. HARD HARD call. IF he were to make it say three years? Which with his already cancerous record my thought is.....the cancer will most likely appear somewhere else even if you take his little deformed leg. This breaks my heart even more than you know because of my Noodles. Take the tumor from her side - it popped up on her leg. Our vet said you can't ever be sure that you will get all the cells in a rats body. I felt horrid that I put her through the surgery thinking I had done the best for her in trying to give her more life, and basically gave ME a few more months of watching her get weaker, thinner, and miserable.

    Second shot on this is the more optimistic one and one that if I had no other experience with a rat who had tumors I would go for in a heart beat - have the leg removed and hope for the best wishing for a year or more.

    Do I think that having the leg removed will make Moose any less of a bully? ABSOLUTELY not.

    I DO belive that they need to be separated to give the other fella some peace and give Moose his time alone as a dominate rat. TWO bucks can live together in a society IF they are constantly breeding and can get away from each other, but ---two batchelor males that don't have females and are not neutered? Do not generally make the best pets and if they can smell the females? Will do nothing but constantly fight for the "harem". Manny and Albert I believe got along because Albert didn't care about females - he cared about FOOD. As long as he had frozen peas, and hulless popcorn, bluberry yogies, and his "stash" of nummies in his hamock? He really couldn't have cared less about mating - I think it must have been an imbalance of some sort on his part. He even LOVED the cat. Absolutely a one of a kind rat.

    They certainly do get into your heart don't they?

    Whatever you decide? It will be the right thing - because there really is NOT a wrong decision when you love them and what to do what you think is right for them. You may have to change mooses name to Tiny Tim and get him a little crutch.

    If I can be of any other help - PM me - and I'l lbe glad to give you my number you can call or text me about them any time.

    Hugs -
  16. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Star, I didn't remember that I have your number until after 10:00 last night and I didn't want to call that late. Thank you for responding. :)

    We took Moose in and spoke to the vet again today. We decided to do another lumpectomy, hope he can get it all, and if it returns revisit the quality of life issue. We're just too unsure of how well he would be able to get around without that leg, on top of the increased time under anesthesia and increased blood loss. My vet is wonderful and is doing the surgery for what he normally charges for an office visit.
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Well I am glad to hear that Moose will be around to live another day!!!!!!!! (go team RATTIE!) I didn't think or read about another lumpectomy - which is actually better than amputation - as far as getting around? If he's been getting around with his deformity this long? I think he would do just fine. He's used to it.

    Let us know how he's doing. I'll be praying for him and waiting to hear. I really.......REALLY love your vet!!!! I think mine is so (missing the word) but just flat. So keep us updated.
  18. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    He made it through the surgery fine and will be coming home as soon as difficult child gets the "sick" cage ready. She's only had, you know, since last night.
  19. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Moose is home and is bleeding. Dripping, not oozing. Vet is already gone and they are trying to get ahold of him.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  20. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Flutter -

    IF you can get him to SIT STILL AND APPLY PRESSURE with a wash cloth!? DO that ------ IF NOT get in the baking cabinet and get some corn starch and try to wad it up in a little pinch and put in on the spot that is bleeding - it will act as a styptic (back woods style) until you can get him back to the vets. If you do not have corn starch? You can use flour.

    Call them if you don't belive me - but my vet tech is a pit owner that has helped us many times with wounds and corn starch is a staple in our house for a lot of accidents.