Surgery and the aging Rat
Many people ask if its a good idea to operate on an older rat. Age is a number in most cases, but with rats, even a 2 year old rat may be a risk for surgery, depending on many things. First, as you would with a younger, healthy rat, you must consider if their immune system is as strong as it was when he or she was younger. Is the heart still healthy? What about the other vital organs? Liver is a very critical thing during anesthesia. If its not happy, it wont do its job and this could end your rats life. One of the biggest obstacles that rats seem to face as they age after surgery is not only problems fighting off infection but healing properly. If you have a rat that likes to pick at her stitches, your rat may have a harder than normal time healing properly. Not that he or she wont heal, but it will take longer than normal...which brings me to our next case study. Guess whos back? This time a little older and a little more fiesty, its Miss Skye, Again!! Unfortunately she was a victim of yet another mammary tumor that I have learned to despise so much to the point I wont own female rats any more. She is also our resident "picker!!" This time, the Vet opted to close her using staples rather than nylone sutures as she will only continue to pick and pull and cause possible infection. The staples are harder to get out mainly because they hurt to pull on making even the most stubborn rat think twice about doing it.
This time it took longer to heal due to Skyes age.
As you can see, it healed just fine in the long run without infection, but she was also on antibiotics throughout the healing process.
Here she is again, Miss Skye, looking all innocent! Do not allow yourself to be fooled. She had her owner, Miss Bree of Illinois, biting her nails for days until she was certain she was out of the woods and clear from the chance of infection. Little Miss Skye is over 2 and a half years old and going strong!
You can see the determination in her eyes. Staples in my belly? Not a chance! What are big yellow rattie teeth for, anyhow?
What a mess. Good job, Skye!
Note part of the incision is healing over and the angry red fleshy part toward the bottom of the incision is where the vet had to add new staples.
Healing is progressing slowly but surely.