Treating tumors and neoplasms in rats

If the veterinarian wants to treat tumors in rats, this is a challenge due to the rodent’s small, delicate body. Depending on the type of tumor – benign or malignant – a decision is made as to whether and how the therapy will turn out. Above all, the size of the tumor and the affected parts of the body play a role.

Tumors are common in rats and should be treated as soon as possible - Shutterstock / Kirill Kurashov

Tumors are common in rats and should be treated as soon as possible – Shutterstock / Kirill Kurashov

The most common way of treating tumors in rats is probably surgical removal of the tumor. Such an operation should be carried out as soon as possible: the smaller the tumor, the smaller the suture. Larger surgical wounds take longer to heal. The little rat’s body isn’t robust enough anyway to “open up” huge wounds on it. And even if a tumor has been surgically removed, it is possible that a new one will soon grow in the same part of the body.

Tumors in rats: can they be treated?

Unfortunately, if the tumors are malignant, things don’t look so good for your rat. The cancer may have already spread and metastasized. Often the only thing left is to live as pleasantly as possible with the help of painkillers or to put them to sleep. Osteosarcoma is a type of malignant tumor where amputation of the affected limb may be the solution. This is bone cancer, which, undetected, can unfortunately spread to all bones in the body. A thorough examination and diagnosis by a veterinarian is a basic requirement. Scanning, but also X-rays and tissue samples can provide information. To do this, consult a veterinarian who has experience with rats.

Drug treatments with tablets or injections are not common in rats. Nevertheless, there should already be remedies that have a positive effect on hormone-related cancers, such as pituitary or mammary tumors. Radiation therapy is also not possible when treating cancer, since the small rat body would not be able to withstand it. Other approaches, at least for prevention, already exist: the life expectancy of tumorous rats is said to increase if they are put on a diet, because then tumor growth is said to be slowed down. There is research that rats fed cloudy apple juice get up to 50% less cancer. It is believed that the ingredients in apple juice inhibit the formation of cancer cells.

The vet examines the cute pet rat for growths and tumors.  Be brave little Drops!  – Shutterstock / Roman Pelesh

09/18/2016 – 5:05 p.m

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When to treat tumors in rats?

Benign tumors can often be easily removed during an operation. Provided that the tumor has grown externally and is not already too big. For example, abscesses on the jaw are simply cut open and the pus washed out before it heals on its own. If this does not work, a surgical intervention is also an option. So as you can see, it really always depends on the circumstances. General indications that speak for an operation are:

  • It is a benign, non-metastatic type of tumor that is external and easily accessible.
  • Your rat-experienced veterinarian will give your rat a good chance of recovery – or at least a longer chance of survival.
  • The necessary “small change” for an operation is available. Such interventions have their price: the more complicated, the more expensive.
  • You are aware that the surgery involves risks for your rodent. Some animals, for example, do not wake up from anesthesia.
  • Your rat is still quite young. In older animals, the risk of not waking up from anesthesia is greater. The life expectancy of rats is between two and three years – consider whether it is appropriate to subject the rat to an operation in its final days.
  • Your protégé has not had multiple surgeries before. Such experiences should not prevail in the short life of a rat.
  • Your rat is otherwise in good health and not underweight.

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