Posted: June 27, 2008, 10 a.m. EDT
Q: We have a rat that can't shake a severe ear infection. We have been taking her to the vet and getting Baytril to fight it. She seems to get better, then scratches until her ear is very bloody. The slide showed six different bacteria in her ear. What advice can you offer on ways to help her heal? Do they make ecollars that small? How else can I deter her from scratching herself bloody? Is there an injectable or maybe a stronger antibiotic you can suggest?
We have been giving her oral and eardrop Baytril with little results. I have also tried swabbing the ear out with alcohol and again with peroxide, and we have tried similisan drops (a human homeopathic eardrop) with very limited results. I hate to think about having her euthanized. She is a very sweet pet even though she suffers so much. She has been suffering now for about a year. She is my 8-year-old daughter's first pet, and I am afraid euthanasia may be the only way to end her suffering.
A: I am sorry to hear about your rat. Ear infections in rats are not unusual. Even so, they can sometimes be difficult to cure. If the infection continues, the rat becomes very uncomfortable. Bacterial infections can be very itchy. That may account for why your rat is so itchy. Although the antibiotic in Baytril is very effective, it does not treat every bacterium. It may be that the bacteria that is now in the ear of your rat is not affected by the antibiotic in Baytril. It may be that another antibiotic is needed.
First, a culture of the bacteria in the ear will be very useful to determine if Baytril is the correct antibiotic or if another one is needed. Once your doctor has that information, the correct antibiotic(s) can be used to start treating your rat’s ear infection. In the meantime, you must control how itchy and uncomfortable your rat is until the antibiotic can start working. An anti-inflammatory medication can be put in your rat’s ear directly, and there are some oral medications that have an anti-inflammatory ingredient in them. Ask your vet for an anti-inflammatory medication either to apply directly to the ear or orally.