How Much Does a Rat Tumor Removal Cost?
Rats make amazing pets for people of all ages. Small, quiet, sociable, and playful, pet rats have all the qualities of an ideal companion. However, rats are unfortunately short-lived and genetically predisposed to various health issues. The most common of these are tumors.
It’s estimated that 10-20% of unspayed rats will develop at least one mammary tumor throughout their life. However, many rats can get multiple tumors, which require repeated interventions. And these are just mammary tumors. Rats can also develop other types of cancers, albeit less commonly.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all rats are doomed to suffer health problems. Treatment options are available, and even rats that develop tumors can live long, healthy lives if they receive proper care. If you want to learn more about rat tumor treatments, keep reading! This information will come in handy whether you already have a pet rat or are planning to adopt one.
Rat Tumor Removal Cost
Multiple factors can influence the cost of a tumor removal surgery in rats. The size and location of the tumor, in particular, can make the surgery more complicated, which means additional costs. Prices might also vary between locations, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. For a general idea, here’s a table of the price ranges for different countries:
Note that these are general ranges. You may find veterinary services that are cheaper or a lot more expensive than this. Vets based in metropolitan areas will charge more. It’s worth checking the online prices before visiting a veterinary clinic.
The total vet bill will also increase if there are hidden costs. Always ask the vet to give you a bill breakdown first. Sometimes, the anesthetic, antibiotics, or CTs might not be included in the surgery price listing.
Is It Worth Removing a Tumor in a Rat?
Tumors are very common in rats. Removal surgery is rather easy and typically lasts only a couple of hours. However, considering the exorbitant price of tumor removal surgery, you might wonder if it’s worth the hassle. I say yes! Even if your rat has a non-threatening, benign tumor, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet for surgery.
Benign tumors grow slowly and don’t spread to other tissues in the body. Because of this, we consider them not life-threatening. However, benign tumors can still decrease your pet’s quality of life. Once such a tumor grows too big, it can affect the rat’s posture, walk, or ability to excrete waste. Once recovered from a benign tumor surgery, your rat can enjoy a long, healthy life.
Then, there are malignant tumors. These tumors are dangerous and require immediate surgical intervention. If left untreated, these can spread to other tissues and distant sites in the body, affecting various organs and eventually killing your pet. Removing malignant tumors as early as possible will result in a better prognosis for your rat.
What to Do if Your Rat Has a Tumor?
Do you think your pet rat might have a tumor? Don’t panic! Tumors are very common, and most are easily treatable. Here are the steps you should take to manage this situation:
- Check for other symptoms. Besides a noticeable lump, tumors can cause different symptoms, depending on their location. The most common symptoms include changes in the rat’s gait, lethargy, agitation, weight gain or loss, and a decreased appetite. It’s a good idea to document the symptoms before contacting your vet.
- Bring your pet rat to a veterinarian for a comprehensive diagnosis. A small pet veterinarian will examine your pet thoroughly and give you more information about the nature of the tumor, its size, spread, and treatment options. You might have to pay for an MRI or ultrasound investigation to get a clear diagnosis.
- Discuss treatment options with your vet. Once you have a clear diagnosis, the veterinarian will inform you about available treatment options. Most tumors are operable, and removing them will improve your pet’s quality of life.
In addition to removing the tumor, the vet might also recommend spaying. This procedure greatly reduces the recurrence of hormone-sensitive tumors in the future. Tumor removal surgery is an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to pick up your pet within the same day.
- Create a safe environment for your recovering rat. Your pet needs time to get back on its feet after surgery. Keep it in a separate cage away from other rats while the surgery scars heal. Provide a plain cage with no levels—your rat risks injury from climbing, falling, or over-exerting itself in this state.
While recovering, your pet rat is at a higher risk of infection. Keep the bedding clean and soft. Avoid things like wood shavings, litter, or paper. You don’t want to use anything that could stick to the surgery scars or cause an infection. I’d recommend using soft textile fabrics instead. Change the bedding every day to remove bad bacteria in the cage.
Consider using a heating pad to create a temperature gradient in the cage. A warm environment will help your pet get comfy and relaxed. Keep the heating pad covered with a towel to prevent your pet from getting injured.
- Inspect the surgery sutures daily and provide medication. The vet will prescribe a course of medicine for the following days post-surgery. This typically includes narcotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. These will help your pet overcome pain while healing.
Contact the vet for a check-in if you notice the sutures coming undone or the surgery site getting inflamed. If the surgery heals nicely, your pet rat should get well within a week.
How Long Can a Rat Live with a Tumor?
Whenever surgery is possible, it will improve your pet’s health outcomes and prognosis. However, if left untreated, a tumor might considerably shorten a rat’s life. The life expectancy in such cases varies greatly, depending on the type of tumor and its location. Aggressive tumors can weaken and kill your pet rat in just weeks. Other tumors will take months.
Malignant tumors are more aggressive, as are tumors of zymbal’s gland or the pituitary gland. Tumors affecting vital organs, unsurprisingly, have a poor prognosis. Such aggressive tumors often lead to behavioral changes, weakness, lack of appetite, and, eventually, loss of motor function. Such tumors come with a rapid onset and worsening of symptoms over one to two weeks.
Benign tumors grow slowly and don’t spread to other tissues in the body. These might take months to kill your pet. Mammary tumors, for example, don’t impact a rat’s quality of life drastically until they become large enough to impede movement. If your rat is already old, a vet might advise against operating such tumors.
When to Euthanize a Rat with a Tumor?
All tumors can cause pain for your rat. If left untreated, your pet will eventually succumb to the illness and die, but not without a great deal of suffering. In such cases, euthanizing your pet is the most humane option. A veterinarian might recommend euthanasia in the following scenarios:
- The tumor is inoperable, or treatment is ineffective. In such instances, we know the illness is only going to progress. With no effective treatment available, you’d only expose your rat to unnecessary suffering.
- Chronic pain and a decreased quality of life. Is your pet rat always in pain? This is a sign that things are coming to an end. It’s unlikely for the symptoms to get any better. As your pet rat is succumbing to pain and illness, it’s highly unlikely for the passing to be peaceful.
Of course, it’s difficult to tell whether your rat is suffering. Rats don’t express pain in the same way as humans or other animals. Still, there are some signs to look out for. These include a disinterest in regular activities like climbing, playing, or running.
Other symptoms include abnormal gait or posture, excessive licking or chewing of areas on the body, rough fur, and aggressive behavior when handled.
- Inability or disinterest in eating and drinking. If your pet won’t feed itself anymore, this is a clear indication that it is dying. Once you have to feed your rat with a syringe, you should probably consider euthanasia as the kindest option.
Saying goodbye to a pet is not easy. Deciding on such cases can come with a lot of guilt and afterthought. However, euthanasia is always a more peaceful and pain-free way for your pet to pass. The vet will first administer a sedative to soothe your pet first. During this time, you can be by your pet’s side for the final moments. Once the second round of medication is administered, the rat is completely serene and relaxed.
Pet rats are predisposed to tumors, which can negatively impact their quality of life and longevity. Fortunately, treatment options are available for most types of tumors. Tumor removal surgery is routine practice in small pet veterinary clinics and only takes a few hours.
Recovery after the surgery might take one to two weeks. You should keep your rat in a safe, warm, and clean environment during this time. Note that not all tumors are operable. If you believe your pet rat might be sick, check in with your vet for a comprehensive diagnosis and care plan.
For US residents, treatment prices range between $100-$500 in most areas. Most quotes include not only the price of the surgery itself but also added costs for antibiotics, anesthesia, CTs, and more. Always ask your vet for a bill breakdown to make sure. In some areas, prices might go even higher.