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Rat Sneezes A Lot And Squeaks

Why would a rat sneeze a lot?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: August 27, 2009, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: My baby rat sneezes a lot, and now she squeaks when she sneezes. What’s going on?
 
A: Rats are very prone to respiratory infections. Most rats come from the pet store or breeder with the bacteria or virus that causes these problems already in their system, so there is not much you can do to prevent your rat from carrying the organisms that cause these respiratory problems.

Make your rat’s environment as dust-free as possible to help prevent your rat from becoming sicker with a respiratory infection, and offer your rat as good a diet as you can give it. There are many excellent diets in the pet store for rats. Make sure you feed a premium quality brand to keep your rat as healthy as possible.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>  

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Reader Comments
I do not use anything that contains dust, I do not even use those pine bedding or anything like those I use a different type of bedding for my rat.
Naomi, Peyton, CO
Posted: 1/18/2011 2:32:05 PM
All rats are born with Myco, so you can't just blame it on the place you got the rat. Sneezing can also be caused by sprays or smoke because rats are more sensitive to this than we are. To treat the infection, you have to go to the vet, because even though this virus is slow moving it will cause lung scarring. If you have your rat on pine/cedar bedding, then a safe bedding would be fleece, aspen, or yesterdays news. Treatments other than amoxicillin are Baytril or Zithromax which the vet might prescribe. Make sure your vet is rat qualified! Most vets are not and even if they say they treat rats they might not be completely certified and are too ignorant to say so. Some vets that are not qualified have even killed rats by prescribing dangerous things like metacam or putting rats to sleep because they say they have a brain tumor when all the rat has is an ear infection! So seriosly, check your vets credentials.
Maddi, HB, CA
Posted: 4/13/2010 8:35:57 PM
Some beddings, notably pine and cedar shavings, which are toxic, and CareFRESH, which is dusty, can cause some rats to sneeze, so if you are using any of these, see the article on my website at ratfanclub.org that has a list of Safe Beddings.

However, for a rat who is sick, no matter the symptoms, amoxicillin is the first treatment I recommend. Secondary infections, which can include respiratory symptoms, lethargy, poor appetite, and other symptoms, are particularly common in young rats, especially those from pet shops. In my experience, amoxicillin is the best treatment for secondary infections in rats. Some secondary infections can kill rats within 12 hours so prompt treatment is important.
Debbie "The Rat Lady", Chico, CA
Posted: 9/2/2009 4:25:05 PM
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