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If your rats need oxygen....
10 years ago
We recently lost our boy Axl to what we think was congestive heart failure. As awful as it was and as much as I miss him, I learned a lot from the whole experience, so I wanted to share a bit about a part of it which could apply to other situations - oxygen therapy.

Axl wasn't getting enough oxygen, something related to his enlarged heart and history of myco, so the vet suggested we leave him at the clinic on oxygen for 3 days while they tried a medication on him to see if it would help. I asked the vet if he would get any attention during that time, and he said it would just be when he was getting his medication and someone would check on him every 4 hours, but he wouldn't be played with or get snuggled at all. That sounded horrible and lonely - he had always had his family with him at all times and had never been alone for more than an hour max. So I asked the vet if it was possible to do oxygen at home, like people do. He said he could give me a prescription but it would be up to me to find someone who would fill it. I was discouraged when he changed the subject, and I had resigend to just leave my little guy there (he had to have oxygen to live at that point), but as I got in my car I decided that I wouldn't let the vet steer my pet's treatment based only on what he was used to doing instead of on what was best for my pet. So I marched back in, told the person at the front desk that I wanted the prescription and resolved that my little Axl would only spend one day at the vet while I found someone to fill his prescription.

It wasn't easy to find someone to fill the prescription for a pet, but eventually I found a place and they were VERY nice and told me all about all the other pets who had gotten their oxygen there. It was also amazingly cheaper than leaving him at the vet - $40 vs. $300! I started with a medium sized tank, but later moved up to one of the giant ones. The small ones lasted about 12 hours on the 1.5 setting, the large one lasted about 3 days or so.

When I got home, I took an extra-deep sweater box from the Container Store and drilled a hole for the oxygen hose and a hole for the water bottle. I had the box upside-down so the widest part was at the bottom and covered the floor with cloth. I made him a little house in there and made sure there was yummy food available. I hooked it all up and set the O2 to 1.5. Once he was in there, Axl's little feet changed from blue to pink and his ever-present heavy breathing became normal. It was great.

Axl was pretty much a couch potato, so it wasn't too hard for him to be in the "tank" for long periods, but even he got a little stir crazy. We found that we could take him out for about 1/2 hour at a time if we kept him with us on the couch and held the O2 hose in front of his face. This also gave him an opportunity to have visits from his buddies. The tank had to be cleaned every day, sometimes more often, because there was no ventilation, but it was easy to clean.

In the end we had to put Axl to sleep - he was very old and the medication the vet gave us wasn't helping at all (that's a whole other subject). But I will say that I have had a lot of rats who really needed oxygen, whether it was to buy time for a treatment or just to ease their suffering before their last trip to the vet, and this is the first time I've been able to provide that little relief. It was so much better, probably the least traumatic euthanization I've even been through.

I highly recommend home O2 treatment over having it done at the vet whenever possible. I think it's better for the pet to be at home, and it's better for your pocket book and peace of mind.

10 years ago
I can get rather angry at that vet, because he was thinking about earning money, more than what was best for your Axl. Thank God you went back! It's awful enough to be loosing a pet, but it sure sounds like you made Axls' last time a good as possible time. Good on you, and your loving heart! I'm sorry for your loss. and from Terese.
Dear Maggie
10 years ago

I'm so sorry about your Axl. It's just not fair, is it? Please know I'm thinking of you and sending healing thoughts your way...

May I crosspost your experience on my Rat Sites and Cites group? I think it would be very helpful for others to read.

Thanks so much and just think of Axl at the Rainbow Bridge having yogurt drops at the yogie bar - and breathing easily now.


Thanks Cindy
10 years ago
Thanks for the kind thoughts.  You can definitely re-post anywhere you like.  I'm all about sharing information and spreading it wherever I can!
Thanks Therese
10 years ago
I tend to get mad at vets often for many reasons, but that is definitely one I hadn't run across before.  All my other vets would work with me to find an affordable solution because I was a regular. Another thing about this vet is that he laughed(!!) when I told him that we had been feeding Axl the stock of baby food we had left over from when our girl Mogwai was dying the week before.  He LAUGHED.  He never even said "sorry about Mogwai."  He operated on her twice and saw her numerous times, and he didn't even acknowledge her passing.  And he had said some other similarly inappropriate, disjointed things when I was telling him about how awful Axl had been feeling.  It's as if when I talk he just hears, "BLAH BLAHBLAH" and reacts with whatever generic thing that pops into his head.  Needless to say I'm seeing a new vet on my next visit.  Hopefully I can find one that is skilled AND has some compassion.
Oh bad vet
10 years ago

That vet definitely needs to go. Your babies and you deserve better. Of course we have to remember that 50% of all doctors and vets graduated at the bottom of their class. He's one of them.

Kisses to all your ratties.


Oh Maggie :'(
10 years ago

So he laughed, did he! In that case, this smiley was made just for him I expect----->  !

Some people can be so hurtfull We can only feel sorry for him

and and , Terese