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Monday, January 20, 2014

Oh No! Not Again! Possible Pituitary Tumor for Loki

I mentioned earlier that Loki is having balance problems. He tends to roll a little to one side, especially his rear end, when he tries to move about. He is slower and has become more cautious about moving. He can grasp food okay so far, but only does so with one hand, saving his other for keeping him balanced. He seems uncoordinated.

Loki grasps a puff with one hand,
using the other for balance.
I was kind of hoping to be able to attribute it to hind-end degeneration (HED), but his rear legs seem to function fine, it is more of a balance/coordination issue. So that points to a neurological cause.

Those symptoms are starting to worsen. I am afraid he may be dealing with the early stages of a pituitary tumor. This is the worst diagnosis a rat could possibly have (of those things that I have experienced so far, anyway). Our sweet Weasel (unrelated to Loki) passed away from a pituitary tumor in late 2012 and it was the worst way to go.

A pituitary tumor is pretty much a death sentence. A steroid like Prednisone may help relieve the symptoms, but will not treat the condition. Weasel was on this med and it did give us a few good moments before his passing, but they didn't last long. I have heard that there are two other drugs that may give you more time - a few more months. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. They are cabergoline and bromocriptine.

Cabergoline is a more well-known treatment, but it is very expensive. And like I said, it won't cure your rat, it will only buy you some time. Maybe.

Bromocriptine is less well-known. However, it is cheaper than cabergoline and only slightly less effective. Weasel never had a chance to try these drugs - his symptoms came on quickly and while the vet prescribed the prednisone for me over the phone, Weasel didn't make it to his appointment where we were going to discuss other medication options.

Loki has a vet appointment scheduled for Wednesday. If she concurs with my assessment, I plan to discuss these options with her to see if either will be right for him. Loki's symptoms have started more slowly than Weasel's (or maybe I just am better at recognizing early signs now), so maybe there is a chance the medication can help him out for a while. On the other hand, I don't really want Loki to go through the bad periods that Weasel went through. I don't want to extend his life only to extend his suffering. At the first signs of those terrible symptoms, I would prefer to help him over the bridge.

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