Pet Rat Care FAQ: Echinacea to Prevent Respiratory Illness

Pet Rat Care FAQ: Echinacea to Prevent Respiratory Illness

Pet Rat Care FAQ: Echinacea to Prevent Respiratory IllnessPet rats are prone to respiratory infections. Many tend to relapse after being ill just once. Giving pet rats the herb Echinacea may help prevent respiratory infections. It is an herbal remedy and a lot of research has gone into its uses. Based on personal experience, Echinacea has helped pet rats that were once severely ill remain healthy after initial antibiotic treatment for respiratory illness.

What is Echinacea?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Echinacea comes from the coneflower. The plant and its roots are used to make the herb. It comes in many forms, including a liquid form that can be used for rats. It is used to treat and prevent the common cold and other respiratory infections. It is believed that Echinacea can boost the immune system.

When should pet rats be given Echinacea?

Rats should be given Echinacea when they are showing early signs of illness, or after a respiratory infection has been treated. It is not used as a treatment for respiratory illness. Many rat owners may claim to use the herb instead of veterinarian prescribed antibiotics, but that is not recommended. Pet store rats often become ill within days of arriving at their new home and can be put on Echinacea to prevent illness before it starts. If a rat is very ill, such as lethargy and breathing problems, it should be taken to a vet for antibiotics. Do not rely on Echinacea alone. It can boost the immune system so that respiratory infections are less likely to happen, but shouldn’t be use to cure infections.

What kind of Echinacea can pet rats have?

Give pet rats children’s Echinacea. It contains no alcohol and has a sweeter taste. It is made from the Echinacea purpurea root and glycerin from coconut or palm. Adult Echinacea has alcohol in it and a bitter taste. Children’s Echinacea can be purchased at most health food stores or online. A one-ounce bottle usually costs between $8 and $11. That might seem high, but it is more than enough to last several weeks.

How much Echinacea should pet rats get and for how long?

There is no set dosage for pet rats. In fact, there are varying dosage amounts for humans. Since rats are so small, they need very little Echinacea. One drop a day per rat is sufficient. A big boy can have two drops. This might be a low dose, but works from personal experience. Check with a veterinarian before giving a higher dose. Put the drop on a small piece of whole wheat bread and let the rat enjoy the treat. Immunity can be developed if rats, or even humans, are kept on Echinacea continually. It is recommended to give the pet rats Echinacea for 7 days then 7 days without. Again, this is not a scientific dose or time frame. It is easier to keep track of a week on and a week off than it is 10 days on 10 days off, or 3 days on 3 days off.

Are there any side effects?

Too much herbal medication can be toxic for anyone, just as too much prescription medication can be toxic. Luckily, Echinacea is known to have few side effects. The biggest problem is an allergic reaction. Even that is rare in humans. Pet rats are prone to allergies to certain foods and some may have an allergy to Echinacea.

Sources:

Echinacea, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Skelly, Flora Johnson. Herbal Help for Rat Respiratory Problems, Rat and Mouse Club of America

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