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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11428
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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my pet rat is almost 2. I think he may have had a stroke last

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my pet rat is almost 2. I think he may have had a stroke last week. He is wobbly, cant hold food with front paws, and very lethargic. He cant scratch himself to get his back paws up to his head. I had him in to a vet afew months back for one bulgeing eye. Dr. put him on two difft. antibiotics thought maybe an infection or an absess, or cyste. He seemed ok, eye never went down really, but he was not in any pain and still ate well (he's a pig!), and playful.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.

Yes, rats can have strokes. Common signs of a stroke include weakness on one side, dragging one or both back legs, and in-coordination. However, other symptoms are possible, and symptoms of a stroke can indicate other conditions.

If your rat's head seems tilted to one side, his eyes are bulging or moving rapidly back and forth, he tips over, or moves in circles, he may have vestibular disease. It is caused by problems either in the ear or the brain stem. Vestibular disease is often mistaken for a stroke. Many times, it can be treated by a vet. There is no veterinary treatment for a stroke. Some rats recover from strokes over a period of several weeks, some die, and some remain disabled.

The symptoms you see in your rat are pretty general. They could indicate a number of different health conditions. He may even have more than one condition at the same time. The only way to be certain of what is wrong is to have your rat examined by a vet who is experienced with rats. Vets who see mostly dogs and cats may not be familiar with health problems in rats. Here is a link to a directory of rat vets:

If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your rat will reach a full recovery.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
he seems to not be able to hold his food to eat. His head does not tilt at all. His hind legs are fine and he can wobble a few steps, then just squats down for a few minutes. He can not climb at all. And seems very confused. Would stroke effects contiue to get worse over the period of days? The one eye that was bulging is now normal, thats why i thought that it (what ever was pushing it out) had ruptured and is causing this. he is pooping and peeing ok. I am very familiar with animals and the such (i am a 40 yr. old cat lover too!)
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
Strokes can be quite unpredictable. Yes, the effects could get worse over several days. If the vet was correct that a cyst or abscess was causing the bulging eye, and the cyst/abscess burst, it could spread infection through the body, resulting in a variety of symptoms. If that is what happened, antibiotics should help, but for something like that, antibiotics would usually be give for 7 to 14 days. You also have to be sure that the antibiotics will be effective against the particular bacteria causing the problem. That's why it's best to use them only by prescription from a vet.

It's not possible to diagnose a health problem based on an online description. Even vets often have to perform tests to reach an accurate diagnosis. I can only tell you that, yes, a stroke is possible. The only medical treatment that may help is injection of corticosteroids, but that has to be done as soon as possible. Sometimes the steroids help, sometimes they don’t. There is no medical treatment that will help after a week. You can read more about strokes by scrolling down about halfway at the following site. There are tips on things you can do at home that may help a rat recover. The site also has information on many other rat health conditions that may help you.

I believe there’s a good chance your rat has something wrong other than a stroke. If this were my rat, I would see a vet. However, you’re there, and are the best judge of your own rat’s condition, so you’ll have to make that decision. If you need anything else, just let me know.

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