Rat Health Care & Information

Choosing a Vet

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The first step in finding a vet is probably to ask around locally for a recommendation. If you can find other rat keepers locally, they should be able to help you, but if not, you can try contacting the NFRS or your regional club if you have one. They may or may not have a recommended vets list, but may be able to put you in contact with local breeders or rat keepers who may be able to recommend a vet. This won't mean the vet is particularly experienced with rats, but it means that someone else liked their approach. You could also try asking online on one of the many forums and groups available.

Cavyrescue are maintaining a Recommended Rat Vet section on their website.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has a Find-a-vet service.

This site lists many veterinary practices and also gives some information about what qualifications mean and what the vets specialise in.

None of the above will guarantee you finding a rat friendly vet, you will still need to do some homework. Some questions you should ask a potential veterinary practice before you consider choosing them: -

  • Does the practice see many rats?

  • Do any of the vets have any specialist experience with rats?

  • Do any of the vets have experience in operations on rats? What sort of rat surgeries have the vets in your practice done? What is the success rate of these operations? (Things like tumour removals, castrations, lancing abscesses, caesareans (if you are planning to be or are a breeder))

  • How many hours before surgery do I need to have my rat fast? (The answer is not at all, rats should be encourage to eat and drink right up until the operation and unlike us or many larger animals, they do not need to fast.)

  • Do they know how best to treat a mycoplasma infection? (most common problem with rats)

  • Would they euthanise rats using Isofluorane anaesthetic overdose?

  • Things to look out for are vets that aren't keen to operate, saying they won't survive an operation because of the anaesthetic risks. This either shows inexperience in treating rats or old methods of anaesthetic which came with more risks. Also look out for a vet that wants to put a rat to sleep with a needle into the heart.

    Once you start to use a particular veterinary practice for treating your rats, you will soon decide if you like them or not. A personable attitude and friendly treatment of your rat and the way the vet picks the rat up. Do they answer your questions comfortably or do they give you the brush off? Many people will use the Internet as a resource for health care and your vet should be willing to discuss any suggestions or ideas you get from the Internet or books like Debbie Ducommun's Rat Health Care book. Treatment of your rat should be a partnership and you and your vet should respect each other.

    Should your rat need an operation, ensure you get a quote first as some vets will charge comparable rates to cats and dogs, while others will give reduced rates for small animals. Most operations that are likely to be done on rats are likely to be more fiddly and possibly more technical than many cat operations, so in real terms it is not unrealistic to charge the rates comparable to a cat. Always ask advice and read up on treatments for your rat and don't be afraid to question your vet on the treatment he is giving. Also, don't be afraid to get a second opinion if you are not confident your vet has got it right.

    Article written by Estelle

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    Images & Text Copyright 2009 Estelle Sandford, Alpha Centauri
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    Last modified: February 08, 2017