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Medical Corner:

Medication Usage Chart for Rat Respiratory Illnesses and Other Conditions

Mary Ann Isaksen and Daryl Mabley, D.V.M. (Revised by M. Isaksen, July 2000)
From the July/August 2000 Rat & Mouse Gazette
DRUG DOSAGE USEFUL INFORMATION
AMIKACIN

BRAND: AMIGLYDE-V
5mg/lb BID or TID, SQ or IM
.10cc/lb for 7 to 14 days
Bactericidal, broad-spectrum antibiotic. Good for respiratory infections. Can cause kidney damage, but it is not at all common, however, encourage the rat to drink plenty of liquids to be safe. Should be used for severe infections, or after other possible drugs have failed. Relatively expensive. Prescription needed.
AMINOPHYLLINE

250mg/10mL solution
2.5 to 5mg/lb BID or TID, SQ
.10 to .20cc/lb
Bronchodilator. Relaxes and expands bronchial tubes, helping rats to breathe easier in cases of pneumonia. However, it should be used with caution as it sometimes has a stimulant effect which can cause an already stressed rat to have a panic attack. Injectable and oral forms available. Inexpensive. Prescription needed.
AMOXICILLIN

BRANDS: AMOXI-DROPS, BIOMOX, ROBAMOX
10mg/lb BID, PO
.20cc/lb for 10 to 14 days
Bactericidal, mild broad-spectrum antibiotic. Good to prevent infection after surgery or injury, for urinary tract infections, or secondary infections. Does not attack mycoplasma directly, but in cases of multi-factorial infection, may kill off the secondary infection allowing the immune system to get the mycoplasma infection back in check. Works well in combination with Gentocin. Bubble Gum flavored — most rats like it. Inexpensive. Prescription needed.
AMOXICILLIN TRIHYDRATE

BRAND: CLAVAMOX
6.25mg/lb BID, PO
.15cc/lb for 10 to 14 days
Bactericidal, slightly more broad-spectrum antibiotic than amoxicillin. Good to prevent infection after surgery or injury, for urinary tract infections, or secondary infections. Does not attack mycoplasma directly, but in cases of multi-factorial infection, may kill off the secondary infection allowing the immune system to get the mycoplasma infection back in check. Works well in combination with Gentocin. Especially good for treating skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses. Tasty and easy to give. Inexpensive. Prescription needed.
AZITHROMYCIN

BRAND: ZITHROMAX
PFIZER
4 to 8mg/lb BID-SID, PO
.1 to .2cc/lb BID for the first 14 days, then .1 to .2cc/lb SID for another 14 days, if needed
Bacteriostatic, broad-spectrum antibiotic. Good for respiratory infections. Has been shown to have excellent results on younger rats, but is less effective on chronic, older rats. Use in combination with Doxycycline for better results in these cases. (Caution: there have been two reported cases of stroke using this combination, although they have not been definitively connected to use of either drug.) Does attack mycoplasma specifically. Cherry flavored — most rats love it. Expensive. Prescription needed.
CEFADROXIL

BRAND: CEFA-DROPS
FORT DODGE
10mg/lb BID, PO
.20cc/lb for 10 to 30 days
Bactericidal, broad-spectrum antibiotic. Great to prevent infection after surgery or injury, for urinary tract infections, or secondary infections. Does not attack mycoplasma directly, but in cases of multi-factorial infection, may kill off the secondary infection allowing the immune system to get the mycoplasma infection back in check. Works well in combination with Gentocin. Pineapple-Orange flavored — most rats love it. Relatively inexpensive. Prescription needed.
CHLORAMPHENICOL PALMITATE


CHLORAMPHENICOL SODIUM SUCCINATE
25 to 90mg/lb TID, PO
Must be obtained from compounding pharmacy

15 to 25mg/lb BID, SQ or IM
.15cc to .25cc/lb for 7 to 14 days
Bacteriostatic, broad-spectrum antibiotic that penetrates tissues other antibiotics cannot (e.g., central nervous system and eyes). Effective against mycoplasma. Should not be used in combination with Tylan, Erythromycin, or Zithromax. Use with caution. Oral form may be obtained from a compounding pharmacy. Mixed to order in any flavor you request. Expensive. Prescription needed.
CISAPRIDE
.2 to .4mg/lb May be helpful in some cases of Megacolon (bloat). Success has been achieved in a small number of rats with this condition, however, there are still no known cases of it working for babies found to have megacolon. Prescription needed. Note: Rumor has it that this drug will soon be discontinued in the United States.
DEXAMETHASONE

BRAND: AZIUM 2mg/mL solution
.05 to 1mg/lb SQ or IM
.025 to .15cc/lb
Quick-acting anti-inflammatory corticosteroid which can be used as supportive therapy in inflammatory conditions such as pneumonia, inner-ear infections (wry neck/head-tilt), and injury. Use only for very short periods. Can be expensive if purchased as single injections in veterinary clinics. Prescription needed.
DOXYCYCLINE

100 mg capsule in 4cc water/fresh daily
2.5mg/lb BID, PO
.10cc/lb for 14 to 30 days
Bacteriostatic, broad-spectrum antibiotic related to tetracycline, but better. Active against mycoplasma. Great used in combination with Baytril or Zithromax. (Caution: there have been two reported cases of stroke using this combination, although they have not been definitively connected to use of either drug.) No milk products with this drug. Drug company will not guarantee drug stability beyond one day after mixing. Horrible taste when mixed with water, but there is some controversy over efficacy when mixed with VAL syrup. Inexpensive. Prescription needed.
ENROFLOXACIN

BRAND: BAYTRIL 2.27%
CIPROFLOXACIN
(human equivalent)
5mg/lb BID, PO
.20cc/lb for 14 to 30 days
(INCREASED 4 TIMES)
2.5 to 5mg/lb BID, PO
Bactericidal, broad-spectrum antibiotic once touted as being the miracle drug for mycoplasma, but we've found that using the recommended dose, symptoms return very soon after ending treatment (although some rat owners report having excellent results). Better results have been achieved using much higher doses (as shown). Use in combination with Doxycycline for best results. Injectable form tastes horrible and must be mixed with something to make it palatable. Can also be nebulized. Relatively expensive. Prescription needed.
NOTE: Baytril shouldn't be used in rats under 3 months of age.
ERYTHROMYCIN

BRAND: ORNACYN PET SHOP BIRD MEDICATION
5 to 10mg/lb TID, PO
1/2 to 1 tablet in 2oz. water mixed fresh daily or 1/8 tablet mixed in food TID
Related to Tylosin, but common side effect is gastrointestinal upset so it's probably best to use Tylosin for mycoplasma symptoms. However, it can also be effective against Strep, Staph, and Corynebacterium infections. Should not be used with Chloramphenicol or the Lincosamides. Injectable form is painful. No prescription needed. Inexpensive.
NOTE: PET SHOP BIRD ANTIBIOTICS ARE NOT VETERINARIAN RECOMMENDED
GENTAMICIN

BRAND: GENTOCIN 40 mg/mL solution
Generics available
1 to 2mg/lb BID, SQ or IM
.025 to .05cc/lb, BID for 7 to 14 days
Bactericidal, broad-spectrum antibiotic. Great for treating severe respiratory disease and secondary bacterial infections. Best used in combination with Cefa-Drops, Clavamox, or Amoxicillin. Can cause kidney damage, but it is not at all common, however, encourage the rat to drink plenty of liquids to be safe. Can also cause problems with the inner ear resulting in loss of coordination (also rare).
TOXICITY STUDIES: No toxic effects were observed in rats given gentamicin sulfate 9.09 mg/lb once daily for 24 days.
IVERMECTIN

BRAND: IVOMEC
Must be diluted
HORSE WORMER PASTE
BRAND: ZIMECTERIN, ROTECTIN 1, EQUIMECTRIN
SELEMECTIN TOPICAL
BRAND: REVOLUTION
(mauve package labeled for kittens)
100 to 200 mcg/lb PO or SQ
Once a week for 3 weeks


Once a week for 3 weeks
TOPICAL: .10mL Once per month
A systemic parasiticide used to rid rats of mites and lice and most internal parasites (pinworms, roundworms, etc. — not effective against tapeworms). The Ivermectin gets into the bloodstream and when the mite or louse bites the rat and drinks the blood, the bug dies. Injectable form can be used by injection or orally, however, Ivermectin is safer to use orally. Non-prescription, inexpensive.
Use horse wormer paste orally, the size of an uncooked grain of white rice once a week for three weeks. Non-prescription, inexpensive.
TOPICAL: application of selamectin can be less stressful for rats than injection. Follow directions on package. Prescription needed, somewhat expensive.
PRAZIQUANTEL

BRAND: DRONCIT
5mg/lb SQ
Once, and again 10 days
Treatment for tapeworms. Prescription needed. Relatively expensive.
PREDNISONE
ORAL SOLUTION 1mg/mL
.25 to 1mg/lb SID, PO
.25 to 1cc/lb
Anti-inflammatory corticosteroid which can be used as supportive therapy in inflammatory conditions such as pneumonia, inner-ear infections (wry neck/head-tilt), injury and cases of pituitary tumors. Use only for short periods in most cases as it depresses the immune system. However, it can be used long-term for chronic or advanced cases of respiratory disease (reduces inflammation of lungs making breathing easier). Available in palatable pediatric oral solution. Can be relatively expensive. Prescription needed.
SULFAMETHOXAZOLE/ TRIMETHOPRIM

BRANDS: TRIBRISSEN, COTRIM, BACTRIM, SEPTRA
15mg/lb BID, PO
.15cc/lb
Bactericidal, broad-spectrum combination (antibiotic) active against many secondary infections, but not mycoplasma. Great for urinary tract infections. Tastes terrible, so is difficult to get rats to take. Prescription needed. Inexpensive. Note: Sulfonamides without Trimethoprim are bacteriostatic.
TETRACYCLINE

BRAND: PANMYCIN
BRAND: TERRAMYCIN SOLUBLE POWDER
TETRACYCLINE CAPSULES
5 to 10mg/lb TID, PO
.05 to .10cc/lb


1/2 to 1 teaspoon/8 oz water/Fresh daily
500mg of powder from capsules mixed into 1 litre of water

Treat for 14 to 30 days
Bacteriostatic, broad-spectrum antibiotic. Good for treating mild respiratory infections and to prevent infection after surgery or injury. Active against mycoplasma. No milk products with this drug. Panmycin is prescription only. Inexpensive.
When Terramycin is mixed in water bottle, be sure to cover the bottle as the drug is light sensitive. You can keep the mixture in the refrigerator for 3 days, changing the water bottles on the cages daily. Place once ounce per rat in the water bottle daily. No prescription needed. Can be found in feed/tack stores. Inexpensive, but treating in the water is not desired. Remove moist foods from diet while treating with medication in the water to encourage drinking.
When tetracycline capsules are emptied into water bottle, be sure to cover the bottle as the drug is light sensitive. You can keep the mixture in the refrigerator for 3 days, changing the water bottles on the cages daily. Place once ounce per rat in the water bottle daily. Prescription/non-prescription available. Inexpensive, but treating in the water is not desired. Remove moist foods from diet while treating with medication in the water to encourage drinking.
TYLOSIN

BRAND: TYLAN SOLUBLE POWDER
4.5mg/lb BID, PO, SQ or IM
66mg per litre of water
1/8 teaspoon/8 oz water/Fresh every 3 days


Treat for 14 to 30 days
Bacteriostatic antibiotic used for treating mild and chronic symptoms of respiratory disease caused by mycoplasma pulmonis. An injectable form is available, but pain and swelling occur at the injection site. Remove moist foods from diet while Tylan is in the water to encourage drinking. You may also add sugar to decrease bitterness (change daily in this case). Should not be used with Chloramphenicol or the Lincosamides. Not the drug of choice. Frequently has no effect on symptoms. No prescription necessary. Inexpensive, but treating in the water is not desired.
SID = ONCE DAILY
PO = ORALLY
BID = TWICE DAILY
IM = INTRAMUSCULARLY (IM - NOT RECOMMENDED)
TID = THREE TIMES DAILY
SQ = SUBCUTANEOUSLY (SQ - INJECTED UNDER THE SKIN)
  • Bactericidal Antibiotics — Kills the invading bacteria. Bactericidal antibiotics are the choice for severe, acute infections.
  • Bacteriostatic Antibiotics — Prevents invading bacteria from reproducing, allowing immune system to kill them.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE — The effects of many bactericidal antibiotics may be impaired when used in combination with bacteriostatic antibiotics. Please take this into account when choosing your drug combinations.

[Drug Usage Chart for Rats in PDF format (11K, 4 pages printed)]

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Further reading:
Rat Medication Guide: The Layman's Guide to Medication Use in Pet Rats is an in-depth companion to the RMCA's Drug Usage Chart for Rats. The Guide goes into good detail on typical usage, drug interactions and adverse reactions, and even the best ways to store rat medicines.