Saturday, February 01, 2014

Weekly Rat Facts: How and When To Euthanize A Pet Rat

In this post I'm going to talk about a hard subject: Euthanasia. 

Most times as a rat gets older we can see they are slowing down, getting older and we may need to think about making an appointment to have our rat euthanized if it looks like they are having a hard time breathing or are in pain. 

But what happens on weekends or in the middle of the night when the vet offices aren't open? Do we let them suffer all weekend? When rats get sick and start panicking because they can't breathe, it's a horrible thing to witness and even more horrible for your little friend. 

So I went in search of a way to end their suffering at home in case of emergencies that would be safe, humane and painless and I found one. A quick, peaceful and humane way to euthanize your pet rat at home. 

Warning: If you don't want to read how to euthanize a pet rat at home you should stop reading here. 

While I was doing research online a few years ago because a rat I had got sick so quickly we didn't have time to get him to the vet during the week. I didn't want him to suffer with breathing problems all weekend and he was panicking because he couldn't breathe and I didn't know how long he would be like that before he would pass away on his own, but I knew seeing him like that was killing me. 

I ran across this article online and did more research to see if this would work and found that there were other articles talking about pretty much the same thing and by this point I was willing to try this. The instructions for the baking soda and vinegar euthanasia is toward the bottom of the page. Now while I don't agree with everything the lady who wrote this article has to say about rats, I do agree with her on this. 

Now after reading that article you have a better understanding of what I'm about to show you. Below is a picture of my own home euthanisia kit. The precise instructions for how to prepare, mix and administer the baking soda and vinegar can be found in the linked article above.

You will need a a 10 gallon container and a small wire and plastic carrier. Measuring about 12" X 8" X 8" and no more than a 2" tall bottom pan. 

You will also need two containers with 2 cups of Distilled White Vinegar each. They should be in large cups or other containers that are easily pourable. 

5 tablespoons of fresh baking soda *Make sure it is fresh or it will not work*

(If your rat weighs more than 1 ½ lbs., you need to use an additional 1 ½ tablespoons of baking soda and an additional cup of vinegar at the end.)

I always have these things on hand while having rats or small rodents in my home because you never know when one will get sick really quickly and if I can't find a veterinarian office open I don't want my pets to suffer needlessly. *This is a last resort* You should always have Baytril antibiotics on hand and try to get your rat better before thinking of euthanisia. I replace my box of baking soda every month to make sure I always have a fresh box because old baking soda will not work.

Where I have drawn a red line is where you would sprinkle all of the baking soda, all the way around the container. I do this before putting in the smaller carrier so I don't get any inside the carrier. 

Put a small blanket or towel inside the smaller carrier so your pet has something soft to lay on. Put the rat inside the carrier. They may try to get out, so either comfort them by petting them or give them a treat to eat or if they are really trying to jump out and you are having a hard time keeping them in *Some rats will do this because they are in distress when they are having a hard time breathing*, close the gate so they can't get loose. This is the hard part for most pet parents. Now pour the first two cups of vinegar into the well where you have sprinkled the baking soda. Making sure not to spill any inside the carrier and make sure the baking soda and vinegar mixes well. 

This low concentration should put your rat to sleep within 1-2 minutes. When they start to become groggy you can unlock the gate if you closed it and pet and talk to your rat. After 1-2 minutes and your rat is unconscious *You can check this by touching the side of his eye. If he doesn't blink when you touch him there, he is unconscious and not feeling anything and not aware at this point* that is when you pour the second 2 cups of vinegar into the plastic container. Making sure any movements you make inside the cage are slow as to not disturb the gas inside the container too much. In my experience a rat will pass away within 2-3 minutes of administering the second 2 cups of vinegar but the instructions in the article I linked above call for placing a towel over the container and waiting 20 minutes just to be sure. 

I have used this method of home euthanisia a few times and never had any problems with it. But if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. 

I realize some people are going to have a problem with this and that's okay, I understand because I did at first too. But then I had to use this method because there were no vet offices open one weekend that saw small animals like rats and I didn't want my rat to keep suffering all weekend the way he was. I was able to gently put him to sleep and end his suffering at home in a very humane way.