Pet Rat Eye Infection

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Pet Rat Eye Infection

Beautiful siamese point rat Photo Credit: Alexey Krasavin
Beautiful siamese point rat
Photo Credit: Alexey Krasavin

Eye infections are no fun to deal with. At all. Rats are much more susceptible to eye infections than we are, as they live in close quarters with their own waste. They don’t have quite as clean of environments as humans do. While a dirty environment can have a lot to do with any infection, an eye infection for a rat does not necessarily mean that the human owner is at fault. They do just happen sometimes, and all we can do is treat them properly!

Soothing Irritated Eyes: Over the Counter

Since most of you who visit this page have a rat with an active infection, I wanted to offer a quick soothing treatment for the very moment. Before allowing the rat to suffer for days to weeks, try using preservative free tears like the ones to the right. This cheap, safe tear solution will allow you to gently rinse the rat’s eyes in between disposable cold compresses. Since many mild eye infections clear up on their own, it is an excellent idea to have these, Q-Tips, and homemade cold compresses readily available. They are also helpful in rinsing eyes with severe infections as well.

How Do You Know If your Pet Rat Has an Eye Infection?

bacterial rat eye infection treatmentsRat eyes should always be well rounded, bright, clear, moist, and free of porphyrin. If they are not, there could be issues ahead! A bit of porphyrin is not a major cause for alarm, but it needs to be monitored. Just like humans, illness can set in slowly. If the eye is becoming swollen, there is clearly something irritating or infecting the eye. If the eye seems to have a break or in it (like a scratch) it is safe to assume that they eye WILL become infected. This means you would go to your vet, get the proper antibiotics, and start them before the rat has a chance to lose its eye.

How to Treat Pet Rat Eye Infections

Pet rat eye infections can be easy to treat, so long as the infection is only a bacterial problem. If there is something lodged in the eye, it becomes drastically more complicated. If one of the eyes is lost due to any infection, then the rat’s vision will be greatly reduced; including its amazing binocular vision (it’s really cool! They have an eye on the area above them at ALL times!). Now that we know we have to get something done, let’s get down to procedure! Be prepared for the rat to put up a fight, as you can rest assured that she or he will NOT be feeling very good.

antibiotics for pet rat eye infectionThe eye should be flushed with sanitary, distilled water to loosen any dirt and debris. This will also loosen excessively crusted porphyrin that has deposited around the corners and lids of the eye. If the vet prescribes eye drops, they should be used as instructed on the bottle. If it is an oral medication, administer as prescribed as well. Never stop using antibiotics early just because the rat’s eye looks better; there could still be bacterial colonies waiting to rebound if they get their chance. Stopping antibiotics early is like washing your hands in soap for 5 seconds; you’re not going to do much good.

Will a Pet Rat Go Blind from An Eye Infection?

It is definitely possible for a rat to experience blindness after an eye injury or infection. If the rat seems to have an eye infection, get it treated; if the infection is already too far gone (such as in cases where animals are abandoned, rescued, or obtained from feeder breeder operations), it might be necessary to amputate the eye.

will rats go blind from infections?Many times though, rats who go through intense eye infections wind up blinded but do not need to have their eye removed. It is only necessary to remove it IF the eye could become a serious threat to the animal’s health or life. A bacterial infection can severely damage the sensitive inner components of the eye, especially when they breed out of control due to a suppressed immune system.

How Does a Rat Get an Infected Eye?

There are a variety of different ways that rats could sustain eye injuries. One of the oddest forms of injury and infection is when the rat is actually sleeping with an eye open, and accidentally rolls on debris within the cage, or even another rats nails. Usually, this is not how an injury is going to happen; but I felt like it was worth mentioning.

Sometimes, rats get a little too rough while playing and fighting. This can result in injuries to the eye. Photo Credit: Brad Clinesmith
Sometimes, rats get a little too rough while playing and fighting. This can result in injuries to the eye. Photo Credit: Brad Clinesmith

A majority of infections are a result of injury. If your rat has been playing, fighting, or brawling with other cage mates, that could be your answer. Other times, the infection simply happens. It could be because of something or someone in the cage that presented the bacteria, or it could be because the rat’s immune system was compromised. An at risk immune system is usually due to high levels of stress, young or old age, or an already existent illness. Secondary infections are very nasty creatures, and should be treated¬†as soon as possible.

Have You Ever Had a Rat Catch an Eye Infection?

With the proper glass water bottle, your rat can remain healthy while saving you money in the long run.
With the proper glass water bottle, your rat can remain healthy while saving you money in the long run.

At one time, I did have an infection crop up in one of my rats. He was one of my favorite boys, actually! At a young age, my little dumbo male had gotten into a play fight with one of his brothers. Later, I realized there was a scratch on his eye. Now, eye scratches can look absolutely terrifying; just think about seeing someone with a cut eyeball! Thankfully, the damage was not too bad at all. A little bit of antibiotics, and his irritation went away after a few days. Of course, they are going to need time to heal. Irritation is not always infection, it is just safe to assume so with mucus membranes. Therefore, you will see the irritation until it finally has time to heal up completely.

Can Bathing Cause Rats to Lose Their Eyesight Due to Infectious Bacteria?

do rats like to take baths
A rat can enjoy a bath greatly, so don’t be afraid to get them wet!

Contracting bacterial infections from a tub is always a possibility. Instead of giving your rats a bath in a dirty tub, try cleaning it out with a bleach solution before hand. Give it a good rinsing to ensure that all of the bleach is gone. You can also do the same with a sink. This will minimize any risks of getting unwanted bacteria into the rat’s eye. However, there are other bathing practices that pose more risks to the rat’s eyesight.

Some people fail to use the proper bathing products on their rats. You can’t just use Pantene Pro V or Herbal Essences on your pets. They aren’t even all that safe for humans, why would you use them on rats? I don’t know about you guys, but it SUCKS when I get shampoo in my eyes! Anyways, the best shampoo for rats is baby shampoo. It’s easy on their eyes and it’s better for their skin! Give this faithful old product a try before you use anything harsh on your babies.

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Can A Bacterial Eye Infection Kill a Rat If Left Untreated?

The truth of the matter is EVERY eye issue needs to be investigated by a vet. If your rat has an infection, you shouldn’t just try to wait it out. He or she may not recover, and could succumb to the infection. Eye infections can and will kill them if left untreated, as the bacteria can grow out of control. They can then spread to other areas of the body, ultimately resulting in a blood infection. Usually, this is the end of the line. Please don’t ignore the symptoms of infection, or you may lose your beloved pet.

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