From daily supplements for rats, to those that support aging and illness, finding our way around which are suitable, and at what stage of life, can be a confusing journey. This post aims to clarify which supplements are most commonly used and recommended for rats. With a link to a purchase point for each item, I have tried to make finding them as easy as possible for you.
Why use supplements for rats at all?
Micronutrients have been studied extensively, and many interesting studies point to their role in terms of ‘wellness’. They help in supporting the immune system, maintaining brain health and combating illness. Nothing replaces a great diet, and the micronutrients in grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruit, eggs, fish and meat are the basis of vitality and health for all rats.
We know that all commercial rat food is supplemented with a range of vitamins and minerals. These include, vitamins A, D, E (occasionally B group and C) plus calcium and copper. This is necessary because these micronutrients are not found at suitable levels in a grain based mix. Also, some naturally occurring vitamins are sensitive to processing (such as heat extrusion).
Hence, we need to add the right supplements for rats to any straight grain diet. If you make up a mix where straights make up a reasonable proportion, even when a commercial mix is used as a base, you’ll need to supplement. Beyond this, however, there is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that giving extra micronutrients for other reason may be useful. The prudent use of supplementation during times of stress, pregnancy, illness and for rapidly growing and aging animals can be of benefit.
The following information does not include dosage, as this can vary according a number of variables. Please refer to the Scuttling Gourmet for guidance, or email me. I would also like to note, that where a product link directs to Amazon – should you choose to purchase an item via that link – I will receive a small referral fee from Amazon. This does not affect the price that you pay. I have no affiliation to any product, and have searched each useful supplement for rats, to find the most appropriate in terms of pack size and quality. Many of the products that I have also chosen are also powders or liquids, as these are easier to measure and administer. Finally, I have tried to find the cheapest product that meets these criteria and have considered postage costs too.
Essential supplements for all rats
These nutrients need to be added to all grain based mixes. If you feed a commercial rat mix, these should already be in there. For those of you who feed straight grain mixes, or half straights and half commercial feed, it’s down to you to add them.
- Vitamin D
NB. If you really don’t like the idea of supplements, cooked chicken bones and liver cake fed regularly, would cover the need for extra calcium and copper, but you’d be hard pressed to get enough vitamin D into a rat without supplementing. It is in ALL commercial rat food.
Rat Rations DailyRat3 contains all off these essential supplements in a palatable powder, which can easily be mixed into wet food, or sprinkled over washed (damp) vegetables or fruit. Designed for anything up to daily use.
Dr Squiggles Daily Essentials 1 (AKA The Bird Care Company Daily Essentials 1) is a soluble powder that you add to water. It is a multi vitamin and mineral mix, without calcium, so needs to be used in conjunction with liquid Calcivet. Rats find it highly palatable. Dr Squiggles Tiny Animal Essentials and Calcivet powder are the dry alternatives to mix into food.
High energy alternatives for sick rats
Vetoquinol Calo-Pet (previously NutriCal) is marketed for cats and dogs. It has a good range of vitamins and minerals including D3 and calcium – but no copper – in a high calorie, palatable paste. Copper is easily given as liver, liver cake or liver products.
Vetcal Pro Gel is another similar high calorie paste with D3 and calcium among many other micronutrients.
Arden Grange Liver Treat Paste is one useful way to give a drop or two of liver for a copper top up!
Other general useful supplements for rats
Omega Aid is a liquid supplement that contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, plus vitamins A, D, and C. Its remit is to promote healthy skin and coat condition. A diet with a mixture of seeds, fresh fruit and veg and a little fish oil would achieve the same.
Kalm Aid is a blend of specific amino acids and B group vitamins, thought to have a calming effect in high anxiety situations. Could be useful for rats before they travel to shows, in and after rescue, during introductions and during events such as home improvement projects, that can cause fear and distress.
Senior Aid is designed to support aging animals, and it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, omega 3 fatty acids, immune system boosting polysaccharides (complex sugars), brain protecting Phosphatidylserine, amino acids and vitamins (B group and E). You can use this alongside the daily supplements to help support your older rats.
Salmopet Salmon Oil is an excellent source of omega 3 and vitamins (A and D).
Supplements for older rats
As well as Senior Aid and salmon oil listed above:
Flaxseed Oil is thought to slow the progression of kidney disease and is a great source of omega 3 and antioxidants.
Vitamin B12 Complex Sublingual Liquid contains all 8 B vitamins in a liquid form. May help support brain function and help protect against spinal nerve degeneration (often called hind leg degeneration or HLD).
Chromium Picolinate Solution is easy to add to wet food, and has been shown to support cardiovascular health, glucose metabolism and in one rat study extended lifespan.
Coenzyme Q10 Powder is an expensive supplement, but widely considered to have excellent antioxidant properties and boosts energy. Has been shown to have anti-aging effects in rat studies.
Ipakitine Powder is a phosphate binder that helps to reduce urea levels in rats with failing kidney function. This creates a greater feeling of well-being.
Vet UKs kidney powder is similar in function to Ipakitine.
Rubenal tablets can be crushed and are known to support kidney function. They seem to be universally out of stock from outlets around the UK. Might indicate re-branding?
Supplements that may help prevent or slow mammary tumour growth
As well as flaxseed oil, vitamin B complex, co-enzyme Q10 listed above:
CLA Powder (conjugated linoleic acid) is an antioxidant that is thought to hinder the growth of tumours.
Curcumin is likely to effectively slow the growth of any tumour. It is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.
High antioxidant Complex is a powder that gives a mega boost of antioxidants thought to support immune system function, promoting cellular death and mopping up free radicals that can lead to tumour formation.
Interesting review for anyone interested in the role of nutrition on brain health (essentially included for you humans, but rats have brains and neurotransmitters too!)