First Aid For Rats
As a responsible rat owner you need to be prepared for injuries and illnesses. The first step is to research rat health so that you will be aware of the health problems that may occur with the breed. The internet is an excellent source of information. Be sure to stick to reputable sites when gathering information. Another good source is the
Merck Veterinary Manual which can be ordered or read online.
It is advisable to make up your first aid kit and have these items on hand before your rat becomes ill or injured. Often rat emergencies occur during the times when the veterinarian’s office is closed. If you are ordering and receiving supplies through mail order companies (unless one can overnight express) keep in mind they can often take a long time to arrive at your door and result in delayed treatment to an already sick or injured rat.
Be sure to find a good veterinarian before you have any medical problems. Your vet can help you to learn basic first aid procedures and help you to obtain certain emergency supplies. Waiting for an emergency to find a veterinarian is not advisable.
Listed here you will find first aid supplies, instruments, equipment, and medications (both prescription and non-prescription).
Some of these items are to help you get through a medical emergency until you can get your rat to the veterinarian. Others are for illness maintenance and for injury or wound care. For more information refer to the RMCA article Be Prepared For Medical Situations.
Only perform health care and/or procedures on your rat if your veterinarian has shown you the proper methods. Only use prescription medications under the advice and assistance of your veterinarian. Be sure to use the proper methods for administering medications to your rats.
First Aid Lists
First aid tape or Zonex athletic tape (1 or 1 1/2 inch)
Gauze (pads and rolls)
Cotton balls & swabs
Coflex or Vetrap or Secure-Flex bandage tape
Corn syrup (sweetening medication)
Distilled water for mixing up medication into a liquid
Nolvasan (chlorhexidine) antiseptic solution or ointment (wound care)
Blairex Sterile Wound Wash Saline
Sterile saline solution (flushing, diluting injections, and hydrating)
Normal saline (synonymous with isotonic saline or physiologic saline) for use in cleansing skin or surface wounds. In an emergency can be made at home by placing 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 pint of warm water and mixing.
Lactated Ringer’s solution (hydrating)
Guillotine scissors (multiple tooth trimming)
Cat claw scissors (single tooth trimming)
Syringe- 12 cc Monoject curved tip (wound care)
Syringe- 1 cc without needle (oral medications)
Syringe- 3 cc without needle (oral medication and feeding) or specific oral syringes
Syringe- 1 cc with needle (injections)
Medications & Solutions (Non-prescription)
Children’s or Infants’ Tylenol
Bene-Bac (for gut flora stability when using antibiotics)
Fruit flavored yogurt with live cultures (also an aid for gut flora stability while on antibiotics)
Vet RX (eases congestion)
Styptic pencil or powder (stops bleeding)
Antibiotic ointment (topical)
Activated Charcoal (poisoning)
Ivermectin oral paste or topical (parasites)
Revolution (selamectin) topical (parasites)
Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution Hydrocortisone (used for bumblefoot)
Nolvasan (1% chlorhexidine) antiseptic solution or ointment (wound care)
Bach’s Rescue Remedy (anxiety and shock)
Lactulose (mild laxative)
Granulated sugar (wound/abscess care)
Manuka honey (wound/abscess care)
Dexamethasone (long acting corticosteroid by injection)
Prednisolone or Prednisone (intermediate acting corticosteroid by mouth)
Silvadine (topical for burns and wound care)
Aminophylline or Theophylline (bronchodilator)
Albuterol 0.083% (bronchodilator for nebulizing)
Banamine (pain reliever/non-steroidal anti inflammatory injection)
Metacam (oral pain reliever/non-steroidal anti inflammatory)
Terramycin or Vetropolycin (antibiotic eye ointment)
Animax (anti inflammatory ear ointment)
Note: Prescription drugs only to be obtained through veterinarian for use with rats. Refer to the Rat Medication Guide for proper usage and dosages.
Soy formula for infants
Jar baby food
Instant maple & brown sugar flavored oatmeal
Pedialyte or Gatorade, which can be found in local grocery stores. Please note that Pedialyte is only good refrigerated for 24 hours after opened, but can be frozen as ice cubes and kept longer, and then thawed when needed.
Heating pad (e.g. thermostat controlled heating pad,or microwavable heated pads such Snuggle Safe®)
Wire cutters (to free stuck rat from cage wire)
Carrier or hospital cage
First aid supplies photos and information:
Useful First Aid Links:
Making an Elizabethan Collar:
Merck Vet Maual Online
Pet Care RX
Pet Vet Supplies
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
1 (888) 4ANI-HELP [1 (888) 426-4435] Open 24 hours, $50.00 per case -or- 1 (900) 680-0000 Open 24 hours, $50.00 per case. (Remember, you cannot induce vomiting in a rat!)
Thank you to “Nat” Baldwin and Kristin J. Johnson, for contributing the photos shown in the various Figures links.
Posted on June 30, 2003, 08:45,
Last updated on September 8, 2012, 19:08