Have you ever struggled to get your rat to take his or her medicine? Pre-mixed medications for rats are often flavored to be appealing to cats or dogs or birds or hamsters, but leave rats wholly unimpressed. The solution for some rat owners, myself included, is to compound medications at home, using crushed tablets and simple compounding syrup. This very sweet syrup is palatable to most rats and can be obtained cheaply. It will successfully suspend most antibiotics prescribed to rats, including Baytril (enroflaxin) and Doxycycline.
Talk to Your Vet
Never use any medication or change the way in which you use your rat’s medications without consulting your vet. If you’re interested in compounding at home, speak with your vet and ask him or her to show you how. Some medications can’t be compounded at home because they are only available, even to vets, in liquid form.
If your vet trusts you to take home medicine and compounding materials, don’t take it as a license to perform diagnosis at home. Always take your rats to the vet for diagnosis and a recommended dosage for any medications.
If a medication dissolves and remains stable in a liquid, it is considered suspended. This means there should be no large lumps and chunks, nor any reservoirs within the liquid that lack any medication. Suspension is accomplished with the most common rat medications (Baytril and Doxy) by grinding tablets to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle then mixing the powder in small bottles with simple syrup or another compounding syrup. Don’t combine medications in the same bottle.
If your medicines won’t go into suspension after vigorous shaking of the bottles, you’re using the wrong compounding syrup. Doxy in particular is tough to suspend. Only simple syrup has worked for me–not even a commercial product that looks and tastes identical gave the same results. You can also try Karo syrup or even almond oil. Doxycycline suspends best in an oily compounding agent.
A one CC syringe is enough to administer most rat medications. If you’ve used the home compounding method and simple syrup, most healthy rats will drink straight from the syringe. If your rat won’t take medicine from a syringe on his own, you may need to scruff him and hold him firmly while you squirt the medicine in his mouth. Bitter medications or those with a metallic taste are poorly tolerated by rats. If you must use a bad tasting medication for a long period of time, try mixing it (after consulting your vet) with chocolate Ensure protein drink.