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Rat Medication Problem

Is it safe to use medication that requires refrigeration if it missed being refrigerated?

Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: October 29, 2013, 7 p.m. EDT

rat posed on spoon
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Contact your veterinarian if any problems arise with giving doses of medication to your rat.

Q: My female rat has been sneezing, and I recently took her to the vet. They gave me medication, but it is difficult to read what it is. From the research I have been doing, it looks like it might be Ciprofloxacin (maybe). It is in liquid form. Last night I gave my rat her medication around midnight, but I was so tired that I forgot to put it back in the refrigerator. I did not realize I had left it out in the open until around 11:30 a.m. today when I went to give her another dose. Is it still OK to use? Is it bad to use? Do I need to get another batch? If so, do I keep on with the seven-day routine or will I have to move backward a few doses?

A: You ask a great question about medication. The best answer is that you need to speak with your veterinarian who prescribed the medication or the pharmacist who dispensed it. It is possible that the medication was prepared in such a way that the ingredients need to be kept cold to keep their effectiveness. Or it could be that the ingredients are subject to bacterial or fungal contamination if the contents are not kept cold. Or it could be that the pharmacy puts a label on each bottle about keeping the medication in the refrigerator as a precaution, but this particular bottle may not necessarily require it to be kept cold to be effective. Only the office that prepared this medication for you would know that.

I would not use the medicine until you have spoken to someone at the veterinarian’s office. In most cases, if you did give it to your rat, the only problem would be that the medication was no longer effective. But we do worry about contamination if there was no preservative in the bottle. And if there is no preservative, then bacteria or fungi can grow and this may cause a very serious infection in your rat due to the contaminated medication.

See all veterinary Q&A about rats, click here>>
See veterinary Q&A for all small animal pets, click here>>

Posted: October 29, 2013, 7 p.m. EDT

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