Constipation in a small animal has the potential to quickly become serious, if left untreated. For best results, rat owners should be aware of the signs of constipation and take action to address and resolve the issue as soon as it becomes apparent.
Signs of Constipation
A constipated rat will likely produce hard, dry stool or no stool at all. A constipated rat may have a distended or swollen abdomen and may be listless or lethargic. Cleaning your rat cage on a regular basis, monitoring the frequency and consistency of his droppings, will help you track this aspect of his health.
A rat can become constipated if he doesn’t have a constant supply of fresh water. Make sure your rat’s water bottle is always filled and working properly. A lack of variety in a rat’s diet can also lead to constipation. While a high-quality commercial rat food will provide your rat with the nutrients it needs, you should supplement his diet with raw, leafy green vegetables to add fiber and extra water to his diet, which can help prevent or eliminate constipation.
A variety of dangerous medical conditions can lead to constipation in your rat. Intestinal blockage, tumors or parasites can all present, with constipation as a leading symptom. Consult your vet if constipation persists or if you notice a radical change in the eating and elimination habits of your rat. Your vet may be able to treat the problem with appropriate laxative remedies or surgical procedures. Never attempt to give your rat a laxative without medical supervision, as it could lead to more serious complications.
Megacolon is a serious condition in rats characterized by constipation, diarrhea, bloating and abdominal distention. The megacolon disease results in an enlarged intestine that is unable to move fecal matter through the colon. This can lead to bowel impaction and can be deadly if left untreated. Additional symptoms to watch for include broken, oddly shaped or foul-smelling stools and impacted stool around the anus. Immediate medical attention is required to treat this condition.
In addition to feeding your rat a fiber-rich diet and providing regular access to water, you'll help prevent constipation from affecting your rat in the first place by exercising him. Play with your rat on a regular basis and give him an exercise ball or wheel to exercise in. This will help keep him fit and healthy.
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Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.