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Talking to DD about very poorly rat - delicate conversation

(7 Posts)
AuntieBulgaria Fri 14-Aug-15 16:21:52

Polo is 2 and we took him to the vet's a couple of weeks ago with wheezy breathing. He had baytril for a fortnight and his breathing seemed to improve but on Tuesday this week, we noticed he had a lump under his chin.

Because it has seemingly arrived so quickly we hoped (?) it was an abscess. Took him to the vets on Wednesday and they though not, but we came home with more anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories. Last week, he was taking the medicine fine in grapes or with cream cheese. This week, I can't get him interested in eating anything and his breathing is laboured. He seems very poorly and it's happened quite rapidly from Tuesday night.

DD and I are on holiday all next week and although DH will be at home, he's not the main rat carer. I don't want to have Polo getting worse all week whilst we're away so I think sadly, we might have to have him PTS tomorrow morning.

DD (7) knows we've been to the vet and that Polo is poorly but she thinks he will get better. I asked her today to consider the possibility that he might not but I think the idea of us having him put to sleep is going to be a horrible shock to her still. These rats are our first family pets so I'm looking for any advice on the best way to broach it with her - in particular the idea of us choosing to end his life rather than have him die naturally (sorry).

thanks

AuntieBulgaria Fri 14-Aug-15 16:31:47

I am aware for instance that I ought not use the term 'put to sleep' which is confusing, but I'm not sure euthanise is very helpful either. How can I describe what we are having to do?

zombiemeow Fri 14-Aug-15 16:45:58

I am useless with this stuff but could you possibly tell her the vet has sent him to sleep? (Rather than put to sleep?) seems a bit less blunt.

Could you possibly get him checked over at the vets and if he gets the ok give him the medicines syringed into his mouth? I did this with one of mine.

My last rat got a tumor on his head, it came on very very quickly. His head just looked a little large one day then a couple of days after he had a big lump sad the vets said it was treatable but he would be in discomfort so we chose to have him put down. Fwiw it was a very peaceful process for him. We took him in a rat carrier and they put some gas in the holes and he drifted off sad for me it was extremely traumatic as my rats were my babies

AuntieBulgaria Fri 14-Aug-15 16:51:17

Thanks for the reply Zombiemeow - I think it's the 'sleep' bit that's the problem - she's quite a grown up 7 year old but I don't her want to not understand he's going to die.

I have tried directly syringing but I am not having any luck (they are our first pet rats) and my husband would be in sole charge next week and is even less likely to be able to manage than me as I have handled them most. I don't want Polo to be in increasing discomfort while I'm away.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 14-Aug-15 18:49:11

It is difficult to explain to a child . Our elderly cat was PTS when she was 17yo (my DD was 3-4yo).

The "sleep" bit - they assume it will wake up.
The "injection" bit - might make a child scared of injections.
My DC reckoned that I "killed the cat" because I took her /the vet "killed the cat" because they performed it but didn't fully understand the whole thing.

We let them see her when she came home. The cat was still warm, not rigored but peaceful looking. The DC helped DH dig a hole and find a bag to put her in..
Our cat was their first experience of death, there's no easy way sadly.

DD was older when we got our guineas, they don't hang about when they set foot on The Rainbow Bridge.

MimsyBorogroves Fri 14-Aug-15 18:57:43

We had a similar situation last year when Ddog became very ill and had to be PTS. DS was almost 7. I explained that DDog was very ill and sadly wasn't going to get any better, and was in a lot of pain, and how this was one of the sad parts of pet ownership - that we live longer than they do, and we have to say goodbye to them at the end of their lives, but when they are suffering the can put an end to that with some special medicine which ends their life in a peaceful way, rather than them being in lots of pain or distress. DS asked a lot of questions, and was upset about the death, but accepted it well and has never had a problem with any of our other pets seeing the vet.

FernieB Sat 15-Aug-15 10:55:13

Agree with Mimsy. Explain it clearly. Please don't say the vet sent him to sleep in case your DD blames the vet.

I'd be very honest about what has to happen, how it's the kindest thing as a responsible and loving pet owner. Explain that an injection will make Polo very sleepy and then he will die peacefully. Ask if she wants to have a funeral or memorial for him. My DDs did this for a much loved rabbit at a similar age and it really helped them. You may be surprised at how well she takes it - children can be a lot more accepting of death than we think.

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