Rat/Mice Diseases - Food Allergies

Food allergy in rats
  • Food allergy is a hypersensitivity or adverse reaction of body tissue to a food substance.
  • Reactions may be immediate or delayed. In a delayed reaction, it occurs only after repeated exposure to the antigen (cause of the reaction).
  • It would also be classified as a hypersensitivity response.
  • Food intolerance can be from a lactose deficiency, causing gas build up, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • Other reactions can be from additives such as color dyes.
  • Some toxic food and plants can also cause reactions.
  • Proteins found in processed food, fillers, and colorings may trigger skin allergies.
  • Having a history of the rat along with what has been it’s diet is a good start.
  • Examine your rat for any signs of dermatitis and/or ezema rule out any parasites, infections, tumors, or other conditions.

    • Clinical Signs:
    • Pruritus (itching)
    • Inflammation
    • Lesions from scratching
    • May have patchy hair loss.

    Food allergy
    • If foods known to cause allergenic responses are found to be part of the rat’s diet, exclude these substances.
    • If no new foods have been added to the diet or the specific food agent is unable to be identified readily, then proceed with an elimination diet. A true elimination diet involves giving one novel protein source and one novel carbohydrate source. This type of controlled diet can be very strict. Listed below is a modified version of an elimination diet:
    • Give a base diet of cooked brown rice, raw millet, and include 1 teaspoon of Nutri-Cal (purchased at your local Pet Store or through your Veterinarian). Give over 7 to 10 days. If improvement is seen then begin adding a food to this base diet. Keep a record of when each food is added and the response. If symptoms return following the addition of a particular food then you have identified the culprit food and can remove it from the diet.

    • Provide recommended balanced diets for rats and mice
    • Avoid known foods to be causative agents of allergic response (e.g., peanuts, dairy products, eggs, and processed foods containing dyes).
    • Culprit foods identified and removed from diet.
    • Keep nails clipped to prevent injury or chance of infection to skin from scratching.